Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum, Lafayette, Indiana, Part I

Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum in Lafayette, Indiana, commemorates the battle between United States forces and a coalition of Native Americans in 1811. It's located a few miles out of town, not far from the highway. I chose this as my lunchtime stopping point driving from Indianapolis to Chicago after Gen Con.

Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum

The museum has a wide range of exhibits, starting with some pre-historic items.

Pre-historic items

The next section has displays and artifacts from the Native Americans. This tinkle cone sleeve was fun to take and shake as the sign says.

Native American sleeve shaker

Replica of bow and arrow

A typical native home circa 1800

Items from the colonial settlers are also on display.

A plow

Weaponry used during the American Revolution period

The Wye Level is a surveying instrument from the late 1700s.

Surveying equipment

The story of the battle begins in the museum next. First, the local Native Americans are described.

The nearby settlement of Prophet's Town was the home of Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa. He and his brother Tecumseh settled there in 1805 as their tribe was pushed farther and farther west. The town had representatives from fourteen different tribes and became the headquarters of the Native American resistance to American expansion. The 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne became a major controversy because Prophet's Town was not involved in the negotiations.



Items from Prophet's Town

The belt axe and belt knife were common tools for the natives, the axe known also as a tomahawk.

Belt axe and belt knife

The tension escalated between the Native Americans and the United States Americans. Territory governor William Henry Harrison assembled an army of about 1000 men and planned to attack Prophet's Town if need be. Tecumseh was away, still gathering forces, when Harrison marched in on November 6. Harrison arranged for a meeting with Tenskwatawa on the following day.

William Henry Harrison

A boy's uniform

1810 American Uniform

The U. S. Musket, Model 1795, with bayonet was produced by a U. S. Armory and was the standard weapon used during the battle.

Early 1800s musket and bayonet

Materials for constructing a fort

A dining set

Tenskwatawa was not a good military leader but he did get some intelligence on Harrison. He would be riding a white horse the next day. The natives decided to strike and made a pre-dawn attack on the Union camp, planning for a sniper to hit Harrison when he mounted his horse. Having a surprise attack and taking out the enemy leader would make victory much easier. As luck would have it, Harrison's second in command took the white horse and was killed. Harrison led his forces ably. The battle raged for two hours and the attackers withdrew when their ammunition began to run low.

Exhibit describing the battle

Battle map

Diorama of the battle (click to enlarge)

Prophet's Town diorama

The coalition abandoned Prophet's Town. When Harrison discovered this the next day, he ordered his troops to burn the town to the ground and confiscate any valuable materials (including a large supply of grain and cooking equipment). Without the town and the supplies, the coalition fell apart. They eventually moved back and reestablished the town.

More on the museum and the grounds in the next post!

No comments:

Post a Comment