Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Frontier in Flames-- Part 24: Death of Tecumseh

Tecumseh was killed in the fighting at the Battle of the Thames.  However, historians disagree about how he died or what happened to his body.  Richard Johnson claimed he had killed Tecumseh and was hailed as a war hero.  A number of soldiers claimed that they had helped mutilate the chief's body for souvenirs, though these boasts were never substantiated.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

John H. Dent, USN-- Part 2

During the War of 1812, he was senior officer in charge of U.S. Naval affairs in Charleston, S.C..

He married in South Carolina and made it his home and is buried in Jacksonboro, South Carolina.

From another source:

John H. Dent commanded the USS Hornet from 1801-1809, took a cruise to the Mediterranean Sea and served on the Hornet while acting as senior naval officer in Charleston, S.C.  He next commanded the USS John Adams and operated along the southern U.S. coast and in 1811, took a voyage to Europe.

Promoted to captain in 1811 and was sent back to Charleston to serve as commandant of the naval station there and the one in Wilmington, North Carolina.  he held this post during the entire War of 1812.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

John H. Dent, USN-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

I wrote about the destroyer USS Dent in today's Tattooed on Your Soul: World War II Blog.

(15 February 1782 to 31 July 1823.

Officer U.S. Navy in Quasi-War, First Barbary War and War of 1812.  he was acting captain of the USS Constitution during the attacks on Tripoli in 1804.  Born in Maryland, the son of Congressman and Revolutionary War officer George Dent.

Appointed Midshipman 16 March 1794.Served on the USS Constellation when it captured the French frigate Insurgente in 1799.  Then served on the USS Constitution in the Mediterranean and later commanded the schooners Nautilus and Scourge during the First Barbary War.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

The Frontier in Flames-- Part 23: Battle of the Thames

William Henry Harrison, meanwhile, had a well-provisioned and motivated army of about 3,000 men.  They landed in Canada in late September and headed up the Thames River in pursuit of Henry Proctor.  The forces met on October 5,1813.   Proctor had his forced arrayed in two lines, with the small swamp in front of them.

Eyeing the battlefield ground, Harrison's cavalry leader, Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, proposed a cavalry charge against each of the British lines -- an unusual tactic in such a situation.

Harrison agreed.  Johnson attacked the British right, which was held by Tecumseh and his Indians, while Johnson's brother, James, attacked the British left.  The surprise maneuver broke the British lines and set up a deadly crossfire that forced their surrender.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Frontier In Flames-- Part 22: A Last Stand at Moraviantown

Instead, Proctor suggested moving a few miles farther upstream on the Thames River to Moraviantown, which could be more easily defended.  A river would protect one flank of the British Army, a large swamp shielded the other and there was a small swamp directly in front of British lines which would necessitate the Americans to divide their forces in an attack.

It was a desperate move.  The men were hungry, tired and dispirited.  Proctor's force comprised 800 militia and regulars; some 1,200 warriors when it began its march, but as many as 700 had left ranks since the retreat had begun.


The Frontier in Flames-- Part 21: Leading Up to the Battle of the Thames

Furious, Tecumseh accused Proctor of cowardice and vowed to remain and fight.  "We must compare our Father's [Proctor's] conduct to a fat animal that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted, it drops it between its legs and runs off," Tecumseh angrily told Proctor.

Knowing how important Tecumseh's warriors were to his side, Henry Proctor tried to sooth him by proposing relocating to present-day Chatham, Ontario, and fortifying it and making a stand against advancing Americans.  Tecumseah agreed, but when he arrived at Chatham he was stunned to find it unfortified.


Friday, May 20, 2016

The Frontier in Flames-- Part 20: Leading Up to the Battle of the Thames

While American soldiers had struggled with little success on land, U.S,. naval forces under Oliver hazard Perry won control of Lake Erie at the Battle of Lake Erie in early fall 1813, effectively cutting Proctor's main supply lines which ran through the lake.

When Proctor learned that Harrison and  Perry were preparing for a major invasion of Canada, he decided to leave Fort Malden and withdraw up the Thames River farther into Upper Canada (Ontario).


The Frontier in Flames-- Part 19: Why These Posts

I have been taking this directly from the September/October issue of the DAR's American Spirit magazine.  I have written about many of these actions and gone into greater detail, but I find this to be a good summary of events.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Frontier in Flames-- Part 18: Last British Offensive in Northwest Territory

Proctor and Tecumseh tried again in late July to take Fort Meigs with a combined force of 5,000 regulars, militia and Indians.  They tried to lure the Americans out of the fort by staging a mock battle, hoping they would think that a relief column had been ambushed.  But the defenders were not fooled and stayed in the fort.

On August 2, Proctor sent 400 regulars and militia, plus a number of his tribal allies to attack Fort Stephenson, a small outpost on the Sanduskey River commanded by George Croghan.  Though garrisoned by only 160 men, the fort was surrounded by a deep ditch that slowed the attackers, making them perfect targets for the Kentucky sharpshooters inside the fort.

Thwarted, Proctor again withdrew to Fort Malden in Canada, and abandoned Detroit, the recovery of which had caused so much death and suffering.

This campaign was the last major British attack on the Northwest Territory.


A Frontier in Flames-- Part 17: The Battle of Fort Meigs; "Go On and Put On Petticoats"

As happened before, some of the American prisoners were tortured, mutilated and killed.  Tecumseh tried unsuccessfully to halt the butchery.  When Proctor proved either unable or unwilling to stop it, Tecumseh supposedly told him, "Begone!  You are unfit to command; go on and put on petticoats."

Though the British were numerically superior, the siege was effectively over by May 9, when the Indians began to leave.  The Canadian militiamen also left, saying they needed to go home to plant their spring crops.

The British lost about 100 men, compared with 320 Americans killed and wounded and some 600 captured.  (This does not include Indians fighting on the American side as their casualties were rarely counted.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Frontier in Flames-- Part 16: British Offensive in April 1813: Fighting at Fort Meigs

In late April 1813, the weather was good enough for campaigning again.  British General Henry Proctor headed south to attack Fort Meigs with 900 British regulars and Canadian militia, and 1,200 Canadian and American Indians led by Tecumseh and Wyandot Chief Roundhead.

There were only 550 Americans in the fort when Proctor arrived, but his first assault failed.  He then tried bombarding the fort, but its strong walls easily withstood the cannon fire.

On May 5, William Henry Harrison arrived with a 1,200-man relief force composed mostly of Kentuckians. They dispersed the British but their undisciplined pursuit of the enemy led to nearly half of them being killed, wounded or taken prisoner.


A Frontier In Flames-- Part 15: Harrison in a Bind, But Still Destroying Indian Villages

Wintering at Fort Meigs on the Maumee River (today's Perrysburg, Ohio), William Henry Harrison held a precarious front and knew spring would bring a renewed British offensive.

Harrison had attacked and burned American Indian villages along his line of march north and continued sending out raiding parties to destroy other Indian villages.


A Frontier In Flames-- Part 14: The Raisin River Massacre

Henry Proctor left between 60 and 80 badly wounded Americans and took the rest of his prisoners back to Detroit.

What happened next is known as the Raisin River Massacre.    A group of warriors returned to Frenchtown and killed and scalped at least 30 of the wounded soldiers and took others away as prisoners.  Some of the Americans escaped and made their way to Harrison's Army.

The Raisin River massacre was another major defeat for the United States in the Northwest.  At the end of 1812, the British and their allies had taken control of previously American territory in Michigan, Illinois, northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio.


A Frontier in Flames-- Part 13: The Battle of Frenchtown

Instead of waiting for Harrison, however, James Winchester marched on Frenchtown after refugees from the town begged him to drive off the British.  Winchester's smaller force of about 850 men routed Proctor's army in the initial phase of the battle, but did not take precautions for counter attack.

It soon came.

Proctor's force then overwhelmed the Americans and captured Winchester.  Believing that further resistance would lead to a massacre of prisoners, Winchester then surrendered.

Though victorious, Proctor had lost nearly a third of his force and decided to abandon Frenchtown.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Frontier in Flames-- Part 12: Events Leading to the Raisin River Massacre

The fall of Detroit and Dearborn Massacre outraged America.  Seeking revenge, in late 1812, William Henry Harrison led a 9,000-man army through Indiana to recapture Fort Detroit.  A smaller, second American force was led by James Winchester was supposed to meet Harrison at the Maumee River near the border of Indiana and Michigan.

Colonel Henry Proctor had replaced General Brock, who had been killed at the Battle of Queenstown Heights, as commander of the British forces.  Rather than to allow Harrison to reach Detroit, Procter took an army of about 1,100 regulars, militia and American Indians south.

They captured Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan), on the Raisin River and dug in to await the Americans.


Monday, May 16, 2016

A Frontier in Flames-- Part 11: Fort Dearborn Surrender and Massacre

A few days before he surrendered Detroit, William Hull had sent orders to Captain Nathan Heald at Fort Dearborn (present-day Chicago) to abandon the outpost because Hull did not think it could be defended against the enemy (and especially the Indians).

When Hull's orders arrived, Fort Dearborn was surrounded by about 500 hostile Potawatomi warriors.  Heald was reluctant to surrender, but also did not want to disobey orders.  Like Hull, he also asked for, and was promised safe passage.

But, before leaving the fort, Heald had his men destroy stores of whiskey and guns.  Furious at losing these prizes, the Potawatomi ambushed the departing Americans.  there were about 65 soldiers and militia and two dozen women and children.

Most were killed outright, but some were taken prisoner only to be viciously tortured and killed later.


A Frontier in Flames-- Part 10: The Surrender of Detroit

When American General William Hull refused to surrender, the British shelled Fort Detroit and prepared to attack.  At this time, Hull lost his courage.  Although the fort was strong and well-equipped to withstand a siege, he decided to surrender.

This was due in large part to fear of Indian atrocities if he fought and lost.  British General Brock assured him that he he couldn't control his Indian allies if it came to a fight.  In addition, Hull had his family along with him.

On August 16, 1812, he agreed to surrender in exchange for promises of safe conduct back to the U.S. for his soldiers and civilians.

Hull and his party safely left the fort and returned home, where he was court-martialed for cowardice.


A Frontier in Flames-- Part 9: Bad Luck William Hull

Before officially declaring war, President James Madison sent General William Hull with a 2,000-man army to Fort Detroit to be in position to invade Canada right away.  Hull's plan was to cross from Detroit and attack British Fort Malden near Anherstburg at the southern tip of the modern province of Ontario.  from there, he would move on to the provincial capital of Upper Canada, York (today's Toronto).

But, he moved slowly and, by luck, British forces at Fort Malden learned of his plans when they captured the Detroit-bound American ship, the Cayahoga, carrying Hull's personal baggage and his plans.

Led by one of the British Army's most outstanding generals, Isaac Brock, the British had time to prepare. Gen. Hull did cross over into Canada, but the British and Canadians cut Hull's supply lines and forced him to take refuge back in Detroit, where they demanded his surrender.

Isaac Brock is One of the Names Used In This Blog's Sign-Off.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Frontier in Flames: War Along the U.S.-Canadian Border-- Part 8: Impact of the Battle of Tippecanoe

To many, the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 was the first battle of the War of 1812, though the war was not to be declared until June of the following year.  Historians differ on the impact the battle had on Tecumseh's confederacy.  Some say it weakened the alliance, while others say that this was propaganda spread by Harrison who lost twenty percent of his force.

In any event, attacks on American settlers intensified rather than decreased after the battle, which was immortalized in the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!" when Harrison ran for president in 1840.


A Frontier in Flames: War on the U.S.-Canadian Border-- Part 7: The Battle of Tippecanoe

In November 1811, William Henry Harrison led a force of about 1,000 regular troops and militia  against Prophet's Town.  Tecumseh was not there as he was in the American South trying to rally the Creek and Choctow tribes to his cause.

The Americans camped near the town on the night of November 6 when the Prophet launched a surprise attack.  There was bitter fighting, but the Americans held their ground and eventually repelled the attack.

Harrison counter-attacked the next day and  captured Prophet's Town.  Supplies of food and weapons were destroyed and the town torched.  Reports had the Americans scalping the dead warriors in revenge for the scalping of Americans the night before.