Tecumseh (/tɛˈkʌmsə/ te-kum-sə) (March 1768 – October 5, 1813) was a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy (known as Tecumseh’s Confederacy) which opposed the United States during Tecumseh’s War and became an ally of Britain in the War of 1812.
Tecumseh grew up in Ohio during the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War, where he was constantly exposed to warfare. With Americans continuing to move west after the British ceded the Ohio Valley to the new United States in 1783, the Shawnee moved farther northwest. In 1805 Lalawethika, one of Tecumseh’s younger brothers, experienced a series of visions becoming a prominent religious leader. Taking the name Tenskwatawa, or ‘The Open Door,’ the Prophet’s message seemed to offer the Indians a religious deliverance from their problems.
Tecumseh seemed reluctant to accept his brother’s teachings until June 16, 1806, when the Prophet accurately predicted an eclipse of the sun, and Indians from throughout the Midwest flocked to the Shawnee village at Greenville, Ohio. In 1808, they settled Prophetstown in present-day Indiana. Tecumseh slowly transformed his brother’s religious following into a political movement. With a vision of establishing an independent Native American nation east of the Mississippi under British protection, Tecumseh worked to recruit additional tribes to the confederacy from the southern United States.
In November 1811, while Tecumseh was in the South attempting to recruit the Creeks into his confederacy, U.S. forces marched against Prophetstown. In the subsequent Battle of the Tippecanoe they defeated the Prophet, and burned the settlement. After returning from the South, Tecumseh tried to rebuild his shattered confederacy. When the War of 1812 broke out, Tecumseh’s confederacy allied with the British and helped in the capture of Fort Detroit, and subsequent actions in southern Michigan (Monguagon) and northern Ohio (Fort Meigs).
After the U.S. Navy took control of Lake Erie in 1813, the Native Americans and British retreated. On October 5 1813, American forces caught them at the Battle of the Thames, (also known as the Battle of Moraviantown,) and forced to retreat with the demoralized British, Tecumseh was killed. With his death (his body was never recovered), his confederation disintegrated. Tecumseh’s political leadership, oratory, humanitarianism, and personal bravery attracted the attention of friends and foes. And Tecumseh became an iconic folk hero in American, Aboriginal and Canadian history.
PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS
Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.
My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.
Further reading on The War of 1812:
He was just trying to establish a place for his people. Sad.
A place in the land where they belonged – before someone else needed it.
I’ve always liked Tecumseh. He was a natural leader, he had a profound understanding of the human nature, but he also had a very sharp political and military mind. I do think he was a special man, a brave one and a just one.
I think the relationship between the two brothers was actually quite complex and I’m not sure it didn’t have anything to do with Tecumseh’d death.
Doing the research I wondered if it was the failure of the British to stand firm – they retreated too easily it seemed. Not sure about his brother’s role at the final battle.
The British did retreat early, when instead he stood firm.
The relatioship between the two brothers goes beyond the final battle, in my opinion.
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