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General Harrison and the Battle of Tippecanoe Essay

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In 1811, Indiana was a territory rather than a state. A charismatic Indian leader, Tecumseh, led a confederation of tribes in central and northern Indiana and opposed further American expansion. Governor William Henry Harrison aimed to gain land for settlers and achieve statehood. These competing interests led to conflict in the fall of 1811, culminating in the Battle of Tippecanoe and the destruction of an Indian town and the center of a new Indian confederacy, Prophetstown. Harrison’s strategic aims and actions were not in line with the intent of his commander, President Madison. However, Harrison’s leadership during tactical action in the Battle of Tippecanoe demonstrated effective execution of the doctrinal tasks of Mission Command.
In addition to the road to battle, it is important to know that historical accounts of what led to the battle and what transpired are in dispute. These are not disputes over minor items, such as the exact order of battle or a clear sequence of events in what was a confusing night and dawn battle. Accounts of what transpired are often fundamentally different, and it is clear that various actors suppressed or championed differing accounts for political or personal reasons. By some accounts, the battle began by accident as an Indian patrol sent to keep watch on the Americans drew fire from nervous American sentries, leading the Indians only a mile away at Prophetstown to attack. By other accounts, the Indians planned a deliberate attack in order to strike the American force before the Americans could strike the Indians. Harrison touted the battle as a decisive victory that broke up the Indian confederacy and many historians agreed. However, modern accounts argue that the battle actuall...


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...making and leadership. The Indian confederacy was no longer a unified front. However, in its stead were displaced, vengeful, and competent Indian warriors without the discipline of Tecumseh or the Prophet to keep them in check and stay their desires for vengeance.



Works Cited

Davis, Paul K. 100 decisive battles: from ancient times to the present. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1999.

Jortner, Adam Joseph. The gods of Prophetstown: the Battle of Tippecanoe and the
holy war for the American frontier. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Owens, Robert M. Mr. Jefferson's hammer: William Henry Harrison and the origins of
American Indian policy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.

Tunnel, Harry D. To compel with force: A staff ride handbook for the Battle of
Tippecanoe. Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2000.




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