January 28th, 2022

The book is off to an interesting start. It gives a summary of the French and Indian war and the Shawnee’s part of it, and afterwards the pan-Indian religious movement started by the Delaware Neolin. This movement spread to the Detroit area and was propagated by chief Pontiac, who watered down some of the more hardline aspects of it. Then he and his warriors attacked the British at Detroit and a war broke out. British reinforcements were brought in and the conflict ended in a stalemate. The British acknowledged Pontiac as chief of all the Algonquins, which the Algonquins did not go for. After Pontiac made peace, he was exiled and later murdered.

January 31st, 2022

The book describes the childhood of Tecumseh up until his father’s death in 1774. Essentially, after the French and Indian War, the Iroquois do whatever they want. They make a deal with the British to cede all territory south and east of the Ohio River and a line going to Fort Stanwix, thus the Fort Stanwix treaty of 1768. In reality, this was not Iroquois land but the land of their “dependents”. This ended relations between the Shawnee and Iroquois, as the Shawnee used the lands of modern Kentucky for hunting. Despite the agreement, Virginians and others crossed boundary looking for land. This blows up into killing and warfare, and Tecumseh’s father is killed in the Battle of Point Pleasant, part of Lord Dunmore’s war. Tecumseh is about age 8, and his ~15 year old brother becomes his guardian. Meanwhile, the nation of America tries to keep the Shawnee out of the war with England. The chief of the Shawnee, Cornstalk, is murdered at a meeting with the Americans in Pittsburgh.

February 1st, 2022

The second chapter discusses the little early history of the Shawnee that is known and some of their tribal characteristics. The Iroquois profited heavily after trading beaver pelt with the Dutch and British, but exhausted the supply. They then invaded the Ohio River Valley to extend their territory. Armed with British muskets, they decimated the local Hurons. The Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, and other tribes were pushed west into French territory. The French then allied with these tribes and armed them. Warfare went on for some 60 years. The Shawnee tribes broke up, though they have been fairly independent and autonomous groups. There are 5 divisions within the Shawnee, which may have once been individual tribes. Then there were about 18 (down from a traditional 34) “clans” named after animals. After a few decades of diaspora, the tribes reunited in the Ohio region. Some characteristics are that they are very free and democratic. They would also adopt whites after performing rituals to wash away the whiteness, but they could also be extremely cruel and tortuous with captives. Obviously this varies based on the individual, but a captive was the property of the man who took him and thus he was free to do whatever he wanted. Some very sick events were described.

February 2nd, 2022

The book continues to talk about the early years of Tecumseh’s life and the years of the Revolutionary War. Tecumseh, despite his young age, was given a gun and involved in the warfare. The small number of Indians defended their village from the generally inept Americans. There were raids and lots of back and forth fighting. The Shawnee tribes split up again, those desiring peace moving west. Tecumseh’s mother left, leaving the children in the care of their older sister and her husband. Much brutal warfare went on until 1783, when the British pulled out of the war and abandoned their Indian allies to the Americans.

February 3rd, 2022

The book isn’t necessarily hard to follow, but I find myself not really remembering much of it after the fact. Maybe it includes a lot of small details, if you can consider tens of people being killed or tortured a small detail. The gist of what happened next is Tecumseh and his brothers left to rejoin the Shawnee who crossed the Mississippi River because his oldest brother wanted to. During a hunt along the way, he fell off a horse and broke his thigh. They wintered in camp and, come spring, Tecumseh refused to stay behind. His thigh didn’t heal right and he had a slight limp for the rest of his life. In Spanish Louisiana, to their chagrin, they found Americans and Shawnee who did not mind it. The brothers stayed a year and left to head back east. The younger brothers went back to Ohio, while Tecumseh and his older brother went to Tennessee into Chickamauga territory. Though they spoke different languages, they had similar culture, and both wanted to kill lots of Americans. The Chickamauga were Cherokee who broke away after the rest of the Cherokee sold out for peace.

February 4th, 2022

Tecumseh and his brother fight with the Chickamauga and ambush a peace expedition sent by Washington. Tecumseh gains some fame as a good warrior, generous, and merciful. He decides to go back to Shawnee country, though his brother remains with the Chickamauga. He may have fathered a child here. Tecumseh with a few Chickamauga warriors take a meandering path to Ohio though east Tennessee and west Virgina. He abducts a slave boy out on an errand and struggle to find game. They come upon some travelling frontiersmen and attack them in the morning. The men are all killed and the slave escapes, but the Indians get some good supplies and food. Meanwhile in Shawnee country, war is going on. An expedition by Harmar was ambushed and many of them were killed. Then the war department demanded Governor (General) St. Clair to outfit an expedition. In November 1791, the Shawnee and their allies attacked their camp. The Prophet may have been here, but Tecumseh was not. It was a complete rout, with 600+ Americans killed and the entire camp left for the Indians. Good for them.

February 7th, 2022

More raiding. Tecumseh and his band kill and steal. The steal some horses from across the river from Kenton’s station, a man much like Daniel Boone. Kenton raises some men to cross the river to take the horses back and take Tecumseh unaware. He loses two men and a woman, which is a very poor showing. Out of shame or some other reason, he goes back to his brother in Chickamauga country. They are having a harder time than up north and are showing less pan-Indian unity. They’ve lost British support and their chief had died. The new chief convinces the Americans he is a friend while working with the Spanish in Florida for supplies. He plans an attack on Nashville, but Tecumseh’s brother convinces him to attack a small outpost first. This would ruin any chance of surprise on the Nashville attack, but the chief concedes. It goes poorly and several Indians are killed, including Tecumseh’s brother. That is the end of the whole campaign. Meanwhile in the Northwest, the several tribes have gathered to discuss what to do with the Americans. They are more in tune and, despite Iroquois representing American interests, are in one opinion of taking back and holding their land.

February 8th, 2022

Tecumseh and the Prohpet There’s some more raiding. Kenton forms another militia and sneaks up on Tecumseh yet again. Fortunately, an American fired his gun at a dog and the Indians were warned. The Americans were repelled, and the Indians lost a man. They went deep into Virginia for a revenge raid and attacked a homestead. The wife and several young children were killed, while three were taken hostage. Back in the NW, the Indians are preparing for war. Talks with the US government went nowhere, as the Americans were unwilling to leave the territory. The Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, and “Three Fires” form a war party. The Americans have prepared a professional army under General Anthony Wayne of Revolutionary fame. The Indians don’t agree on tactics. Some wanted to attack Wayne’s stretched out supply lines. The Three Fires, who had come late and assaulted the undefended Indian women, wanted to attack a fort which would have a supply train leaving. This was agreed to, though it did not go great. They attacked the train at Fort Recovery but it became a siege and they lost too many men. The Shawnees shock some Three Fires as they descended to attack the fort to avenge the women. Wayne advanced, and the Shawnee and Delaware left the Glaize and moved northeast towards British Ft Miamis. The Battle of Fallen Timbers took place between 3000 Americans and less than half that number of Indians. Tecumseh was in command of a contingent on the front center. His line breaks as the Americans advance.

February 9th, 2022

The Indians did not get a warm reception at Fort Miamis. The British, who were in the midst of negotiations for abandoning their northwest forts, did not allow any Indians in. They had to retreat further and were in for a rough winter. With everything they had destroyed by the Americans, they were dependent on the British for food and supplies. The battle was a loss and the war was over. The Confederation and Americans made peace, and, under conditions, the whites were allowed to settle in the northwest. During the peace, Tecumseh formed his own village with his family and some who followed him, especially as he had proven himself brave during the battle. His group of men did not like the situation, but accepted the peace. Tecumseh eventually moved closer to the Americans at the request of a chief and even befriended some. He was growing into a diplomat.

February 10th, 2022

I don’t think a lot had been said in this reading. It talked about the life of William Henry Harrison, who went from an army officer (who had been at Fallen Timbers) to the governor of Indiana Territory. The chapter also discussed the various land “deals” that took lands from the Indians and the problem of alcohol, which was destroying the native communities. Tecumseh went out to the west Shawnee to escape the surrounding problems, but returned after a few months. Essentially, there is no happy ending in sight. The Americans are systematizing their land grabs and the Indians are falling deeper and deeper into social turmoil. President Jefferson himself plans to either push the Indians out or convince them, through crippling debt, to stay and farm the land.

February 11th, 2022

Part 2 of this book opens up with Tecumseh’s brother becoming “The Prophet”. The Prophet had spent the 30ish years of his life as a burden mostly and became a terrible alcoholic. This was a dark time for the Indians and there had been several “seers” who preached about a return to the old ways of life. One day, the Prophet collapsed and everyone thought he was dead. He was immobile for the next day, and as they were digging his grave, he awoke. He described his vision on the path to hell and the tortures of the damned, how drunkards would drink molten lead. He was returned to earth by the Master of Life to tell what he had seen. Tecumseh’s village believed him and followed his new path. They were to create a new village in white territory at Greeneville. Tecumseh and the Prophet went to a neighboring Shawnee village to preach, and Delaware, Wyandots, and others were present. They did not take his new religion seriously.

February 14th, 2022

The Indians are very afraid of witches. The Prophet blames a lot of there woes on witchcraft and there are already witch hunts going on. Some Delawares have invited him to be the judge of suspected witches they round up. Several men and women are executed for obviously fake crimes. The Prophet gets his first “success” as in his role as holy man with these Delawares. Governor WH Harrison tells the Indians to make the Prophet really do a miracle to prove that he is a prophet, something Christ-like. Unfortunately for Harrison, the Prophet has learned of an upcoming total solar eclipse and plans to use this as proof. The Indians, already superstitious, fall for it and believe in his power. A second witch hunt was supposed to occur in Wyandot territory, but the Wyandots have a long exposure to Christianity from the French and many are Catholics. A Presbyterian minister moved in to preach against the use of alcohol and try to switch them to his team and was able to rally enough men to end the witch hunting. A loss of the Prophet.

February 15th, 2022

The Prophet’s word is spreading and pilgrims from the northwest had come to hear him. A man from one of the northern tribes, named the Trout (in French), becomes a disciple and is to be the Prophet’s mouth in this far territory. Tecumseh pushes back against the Americans who are trying to get the Shawnee out of Greeneville. He does not put up with their requests and refuses to see their messengers unless they come from a higher authority. Conflict nearly breaks out among the Indians as Tecumseh and another chief Black Hoof blame each other for the murder of a white man, but it is resolved peacefully later. In the northwest, the Prophet’s rhetoric takes the people by storm. The northwestern tribes in the Michigan/Wisconsin area take on a militant tone and refuse to negotiate with Americans about land, saying they will not give up one inch of hunting ground. The Americans live in fear but so far no harm has occurred. In 1807, conflict between the US and Britain is renewing. England is at war with Napoleonic France, who has commercial ties with the US. The British are blockading ports and bombard a US ship that has some Royal Navy deserters. Jefferson puts an embargo on British goods, which doesn’t do much. The British, who have given very little attention to Indian affairs, begin to look to rekindle old alliances.

February 21st, 2022

Everyone is distrustful of the Greenville settlement. Envoy after envoy is sent to monitor them and see if they are allied with the British. Many Americans and still distrustful of all things British, especially William Henry Harrison. All visitors find the Greenville Indians peaceful and sincere. Some of the leading men, Tecumseh included, even go to the state house to speak with the governor and legislature of Ohio. Blue Jacket makes a moving speech and Tecumseh delivers a powerful 3 hour long speech where he vows peace but not to give up any more land. The Americans trust the representatives and dismiss the militia. The Indians plan on leaving Greenville for an unknown location deep in Indian territory. Around this time some Indians in Michigan sign the Detroit Treaty, which gives away a huge tract of land in southeastern Michigan into Ohio for next to nothing. A Potawatomi chief/sorcerer, Main Poc, goes to Greenville to see the Prophet. He probably shouldn’t be trusted. Despite coming to an ideological impasse, Main Poc leaves as an ally and offers them land that he stole from the Delawares, near the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers.

February 22nd, 2022

Tecumseh and the Prophet’s people suffer a difficult winter and many people leave. They then leave for their new region, but are stopped and threatened with death by some Miami and Delaware along the way. They pay this no mind and muscle their way past. They establish Prophetstown in the area promised by Main Pac, despite it being Miami territory. Tecumseh is sent to Canada to meet with the British and makes a favorable impression. The British will try to placate the Indians to keep them on their side, or to prevent them from becoming friendly with Americans. Still starving and with no supplies from Main Pac, the Prophet goes to William Henry Harrison to play both sides. He also makes a good impression and gets plenty of food out of him. The whole time his men refuse to drink whiskey offered by the whites. Tecumseh goes north to try to recruit some more tribes to his side, but they are not interested. Meanwhile other Shawnees have taken up white living and started farming with help from a Quaker sent by the government. They’re a lost cause.

February 23rd, 2022

The Shawnee brothers straggle along. It looks like their power is waning. Tecumseh can’t do any recruiting, some Ottawas sneak into town and kill a woman and child. Tecumseh stops the Sauks and Foxes from attacking forts in the Illinois territory (split off from the Indiana territory in 1809) but they refuse to join his cult. Then Harrison tries some bonehead moves. In direct defiance of President Madison and the secretary of war, he tries to get more land from the Indians. He’s upset that his territory shrank and that he won’t be able to be governor of a state. He tries to swindle the Indians out of land, but they are firm. He gets them drunk on lots of whiskey and with some threatening he gets them to agree to the treaty of Fort Wayne. He really is garbage. The Shawnee brothers and their followers refuse to acknowledge this treaty and fight it at every turn. It helps bring many former adversaries to their side. And of course, it pushes them closer to the British.

February 24th, 2022

Tensions are high between Prophetstown and Harrison. Harrisons sees threats of war and British intrigue everywhere. He sends spy after spy to Prophetstown, and the last one barely escapes with his life, thanks to the intervention of the brothers. In response, Tecumseh and some of his men go to meet Harrison at Vincennes. The meeting nearly comes to blows and the Indians storm off. They meet again the next day but do not come to any understanding. Tecumseh will not acknowledge the Fort Wayne treaty and will kill any chief who signed it if they do not recant. They will prevent any attempt at American surveying of the land. Tecumseh then goes around the Michigan territory but only is successful in one Powtawatomi village. Main Poc had been shot in battle and his followers were shaken. However, many young warriors in the Indiana territory and Illinois territory start to see things Tecumseh’s way. Tecumseh, in a meeting with the various tribes and the British, professes friendship with the British and a change to warrior rule. The old chiefs will have no say on future events. They will not ask for British soldiers but request war material. The British will oblige, but advise against starting a war. The winter of 1810 passes without violence.

February 25th, 2022

I didn’t pay much attention today. There was another meeting with Harrison that goes nowhere and then Tecumseh made his way down to the southern tribes in Tennessee, Alabama region. Main Poc is causing trouble for everyone by attacking white settlements.

February 28th, 2022

Tecumseh’s trek south didn’t amount to much. The Choctaws threatened to kill him and the Creeks were less than interested. The Creeks, already in a divide between north and south. Tecumseh left one of his men there to spread the Prophet’s message, which may have contributed to a cultural revival and thus the Creek Wars. Either way, it was mostly a dud for Tecumseh and he left pretty empty handed for the western Shawnee. Meanwhile, the Prophet was gathering warriors from various tribes and alarmed Harrison. Under the pretext that the Prophet was responsible for assaults and thefts, he launches a military expedition. Peace talks fail and battle will take place.

March 1st, 2022

The Prophet convinced Harrison to hold discussions the next day and to camp that night in a certain spot. The American agreed and that night the Indians decided to attack. The Battle of Tippecanoe took place in the very early morning of November 7th, 1811. It was pitch black and pouring rain. The plan was to send a contingent of Kickapoo to sneak into the camp and kill Harrison, then the rest of the tribes would open the general engagement. The Kickapoos got found out and it turned into a chaotic engagement. Bonfires blinded the Americans and nobody could see anything. After hours of fighting and with the sun rising, the Indians retreated, practically out of ammo. The Americans went in and burned Prophetstown to the ground. The Indians barely spared the Prophet’s life, but dispersed as everyone had to survive the winter elsewhere. In December in New Madrid, a cataclysmic earthquake occurred with shocks felt throughout the country until March. Many Indians took this as a sign of god’s anger with them. Some rejoined the Prophet, or moved along their own path of cultural revitalization. Tecumseh traveled through this area, but the were not interested in him. The Osages, no longer enemy of the Shawnee, listened intently to one of his great speeches, but declined to join. Tecumseh went back with nothing to show for his travels. Back in Vincennes, Harrison boasts of his “victory”, in which he lost 1/5 men, and claims the Indians pacified.

March 2nd, 2022

Tecumseh tries to pull everything back together after his brother’s screw up, and doing all this cover anti-American stuff in the background. Unfortunately, Main Poc’s men start killing settlers left and right and bring more conflict to the forefront. A few months go by of this wheeling and dealing, forging closer alliances with the British while trying to get the tribes to unify. In the capitol, Congress gets filled with war-hawks, with Henry Clay as their mouthpiece. Old spineless Madison gives in and declares war on England and any allied Indians on June 17th, 1812. A pointless war has begun. Pointless for the US and England. For the Indians, it will be a war for survival.

March 3rd, 2022

The British, at least in the Fort Malden/Upper Canada area across from Detroit, were not ready for war. The fortifications were old and there were not many men, especially compared with the Americans. War with Napoleon would prevent reinforcements, but the war-hawks lack of thinking rejected a naval bill and left the Greak Lakes in British hands. Some Indians followed Tecumseh to the British, while others chose neutrality. The Americans under Hull marched unopposed to Detroit. The British commander was a bit inept and couldn’t do much, but Tecumseh and his men proved very formidable. The British commander was replaced by someone named Packet or Pocket or something like that, out of Quebec, who revitalized the British forces and fortifications. He and Tecumseh went over the river to recruit neutral Wyandots. They were not interested in the Brit’s words, but listened to Tecumseh. After several days of prodding, many Wyandot warriors defected to Tecumseh. So far, Tecumseh has been a great war leader and embarrassing the numerically superior Americans.

March 4th, 2022

The war continues and General Hull sends a force to secure his supply lines. The British and Indians, after their victory at Brownstown, wait for more Americans to show up. They set up an ambush at Manguama or some difficult Indian name, but it does not go as planned. Main Poc’s men accidentally fire on the British and both start to flee. Canadian militia men mistook American drums for a retreat signal. Tecumseh’s ambush, however, splits the American force and they end up retreating, so it was a tactical victory with few dead and wounded. Tecumseh himself suffered a nasty bullet wound in the shoulder. With no action in the Niagara front, the General Brock came to the western front. He and Tecumseh saw eye to eye and greatly respected each other. Brock called for an attack on Fort Detroit, where Hull was holed up with many civilians. After some shelling, they surrendered and were surprised at the restraint shown by Indians. Fort Dearborn also surrendered, but Potawatomis were not so restrained. After clearing out the forts, Tecumseh and his men set out for some raiding further south into Michigan. Unfortunately, Brock was called back to the Niagara front.

March 7th, 2022

Brock is killed during an American attempted invasion across Niagara. Tecumseh trusts the Prophet to lead an expedition against Forts Harrison and Malden, I think. The Potawatomis lead their own attack on Malden, while the Prophet leads the one at Harrison, though he lets a Kickapoo war chief lead the actual attack. The attack is well planned but does not succeed and both sieges end up repulsed. William Henry Harrison leads a Kentucky militia into Indian territory and starts scorching the earth. The fighting doesn’t really tip any scales, though a careless split of forces on the assault on Frenchtown allowed the British an overwhelming victory. Tecumseh spends the winter in his brother’s camp to recover from his wound. The British start to see things Brock’s way and become more favorable to the Indians, especially after Napoleon’s failure in Russia shows that the war in Europe may not last much longer. I can’t remember what else happened, there’s a lot of skirmishing. Harrison builds a new fort as a naval force is being constructed on Lake Erie. I think the British and Indians will assault that next.

March 8th, 2022

The British and Indians indeed attack Harrison’s Fort Meigs. General Proctor plans to weaken the fort with artillery and then the Indians will attack, but the artillery fails to deliver the damage. The Indians just sharpshoot, when surprise reinforcements from Kentucky join the battle. Some land south of the river (fort side) and assault the British guns, while a bunch more land north to take a different set of guns. The northern contingent has no idea what they’re doing and get drawn inland by the Indians. Tecumseh crosses the river to start a flank attack and the American under Dudley are decimated. Only 150/800 make it safely to the fort. Hundreds are taken to old Fort Miamis as prisoners, where they must run the gauntlet. Many survivors are killed, the British too few to stop them, until Tecumseh ends the bloodshed. The battle ends as Indians take plunder and leave, the fort still standing. General Prevost in Quebec does nothing to support Proctor in Upper Canada, and Proctor’s numbers dwindle as the Canadian militia head home for crop planting. He does not want to lead another attack, but knows he must follow Tecumseh or lose the Indian forces. Tecumseh attempts a ruse to draw out the men of Fort Meigs, but it does not work. The commanding officer sees through it. Despite the military successes, Tecumseh is no closer to his goal of reclaiming Ohio.

March 9th, 2022

Things go down hill from here. Desperate for a victory, Tecumseh organizes an attack on Fort Stephenson in Ohio. The assault on the fort was catastrophic for the British, losing 80 some men killed or wounded, with the Indians skulking away without a loss. The British are tired of the Indians and the Indians are tired of the British. Proctor gets no support from the capital. On September 1st, 1813, the Americans launch their Lake Erie flotilla. On September 9th, the British flotilla meets them to do battle. Not a single British ship returns. The lake is purely American. Fort Malden is cut off from their supplies and slowing go into starvation. The only option is retreat. As they dismantle the fort, angry Indians demand to know what is happening and nearly riot. They could easily kill all the British. Proctor convinces Tecumseh, who is fed up with Proctor, to move to a more tenable position down the Thames River. Many Indians refuse to leave, some say they will join the Americans. All the high hopes of Tecumseh have come to nothing.

March 10th, 2022

Through the end of September and the start of October, the British and Indians do a lot of marching and no action as Harrison pursues. Proctor disappears further along to Moraviantown on the Thames, where his wife is, without giving instructions to his subordinates. The Indians take their own stand and skirmish with the Americans in the river delta before retreating further. On October 6th, 1813, the forces meet outside Moraviantown. The Battle of the Thames sees the British quickly routed with many men taken prisoner and Proctor absconding. The Indians form a line along the marsh and start off well, picking off Kentucky calvary men. After their commander is killed, the next in line orders his men to dismount and approach on foot, using trees for cover. Tecumseh’s brother-in-law is killed. Then, Tecumseh himself gets a bullet to the heart, instantly killing him. Word of this spread along the line and the Indians retreat. Many leave the coalition and sneak off home or surrender to the Americans. Harrison goes to the field later, but Tecumseh’s mutilated body is unidentifiable by then. Word spreads quickly around America how the great Indian leader had been killed in battle.

March 11th, 2022

After Tecumseh’s death, the confederacy collapsed. The entire war on this front was essentially over. Proctor was courtmartialed and never given command again. The surviving combatants came to the eastern Niagara front, with the Americans choosing not to pursue. The Prophet, Tenskwatawa is his real name, tried to lead his people, but to no avail. The Indians would be forever dependent on the whites. Tecumseh used his cunning to try to get the most of the British, claiming he was chief of all Indians. Matthew Elliot, who had been so close to the Shawnee all these decades, died around this time. The new Indian agents would not know how to to work with Tenskwatawa, he kept alienating more and more people. The treaty of Ghent ended the war at the end of 1814, and the Indians were officially abandoned. No homeland would be guaranteed for them. Tenskwatawa moved to the Amhertsburg and begged from the British. He was exiled from America for the next decade. He was invited back to Michigan territory in 1824 to guide Shawnees to their reservation in Kansas. Always an outcast, after the hard journey he segregated himself with some family and built a shantytown called Prophetstown. He faded away, was nobody for the next 10 years. Except in this time, a painter wished to capture his portrait as a legacy of the Shawnee. Tenskwatawa posed in his medicine man garb, abandoning the European style he had posed for in earlier portraits. Some time in 1836, he died alone in his little cabin. What a downer. These two brothers were so close to changing the world. I guess they did, it just didn’t change in their favor.