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Turning Point: Battle of Thames

Active Military
Active Military
October 5, 2017
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On this day in U.S. military history, we struck one of the final blows to the crown in the War of 1812 fought in response to their economic sanctions and policy of impressment. The War of 1812 certainly had its drawbacks, like the White House being burned, to name one. But on this day, American forces won the field. Commanders in the field were Maj. General William Henry Harrison for the American forces and a combination of Maj. General Henry Proctor and Tecumseh for the British and Native forces.Due to a hard fought battle won by famed U.S. sailor, Oliver Hazard Perry, a battle between Harrison and Proctor was all but inevitable. An alliance between the British and the Native American’s under the Tecumseh confederacy met with forces under the command of Maj. General Harrison in the area of the great lakes.On the early morning of October 5th, commander of the British forces Maj. Gen Henry Proctor ordered his troops to hastily retreat another two miles from the advancing American forces. While he set up a defense and hoped the terrain would be enough to entrap the American’s with cannon and rifle fire. However. Hope is not the best defensive strategy in a war and Proctor’s decision to not set up any obstacles proved fatal to his battle plan. Under the command of James Johnson, mounted infantry charged the British lines and broke through. Without a shot of cannon being fired the British commander and about 250 of his men fled while the rest surrendered.

However, the Tecumseh Confederacy continued fighting and bogged down the horsemen in the swamp where they had set up their flanking position. During the stalemate, it is believed that Tecumseh was killed either by Johnson (who had been hit five times with rifle fire) or William Whitely (a revolutionary war veteran, talk about a salty senior NCO). As the news of Tecumseh’s death spread throughout the camp, coupled with the advancing main American force, the Tecumseh Confederacy finally dissolved and stopped fighting. Harrison then signed an armistice with many of the tribes that had rallied under Tecumseh, although a few of the tribes kept fighting 'til the war's end. Despite this great success, the Americans failed to recapture Illinois, Wisconsin and other territories to the west. Harrison’s troops then deployed eastward towards New York.This allowed the American’s to control the Great Lakes region and the Midwest frontier. It was also instrumental in securing William Henry Harrison the popularity necessary to become President of the United States and Richard Mentor Johnson the Vice Presidency under Martin Van Buren on the belief that he had killed Tecumseh.

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