On This Day

On this day, October 5th in 1813, a combined British and Indian force is defeated by General William Harrison’s American army at the Battle of the Thames near present-day Chatham, Ontario, Canada. The leader of the Indian forces was Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who organized inter-tribal resistance to the encroachment of white settlers on Indian lands, and the venerable war-making chief was killed in the fray.When the War of 1812 erupted, he joined the British, and with a large Indian force he marched on U.S.-held Fort Detroit with British General Isaac Brock. In August 1812, the fort surrendered without a fight when it saw the British and Indian show of force.

Tecumseh then traveled south to rally other tribes to his cause and in 1813 joined British General Henry Procter in his invasion of Ohio. The British-Indian force besieged Fort Meigs, and Tecumseh intercepted and destroyed a Kentucky brigade sent to relieve the fort. After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813, Procter and Tecumseh were forced to retreat to Canada. Pursued by an American force led by the future president William Harrison, the British-Indian force was defeated at the Battle of the Thames River on October 5.

The battle gave control of the western theater to the United States in the War of 1812. Tecumseh’s death marked the end of Indian resistance east of the Mississippi River, and soon after most of the depleted tribes were forced west.

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