I came upon this site unexpectedly while returning from an archaeological investigation I conducted near Marion, Indiana. I often drive on the back roads and “Blue Highways” when I am out doing field work. Interesting discoveries can be made when driving “off the beaten path.” The Mississinewa Battlefield is one of a number of historic sites in the Old Northwest Territories associated with the War of 1812.
Michilimackinac and Detroit were captured by the British by the summer of 1812 mostly with the assistance of the Native American Indiana populations in the region. Some from the Miami and Delaware groups had assembled along the Mississinewa River, a tributary of the Wabash River. Uneasy with the growing number of Indians gathering here William Henry Harrison, commander of the North Western Army, directed Lieutenant Colonel John B. Campbell to rout these people.
With a force of approximately 600 men Campbell marched through the regions burning villages they encountered. By the middle of December the returned to the site of their first attack along the Mississinewa River to camp. Early the next morning the were ambushed by an undetermined number of Indians. The battle was brief. Fifteen Indians and eight of Campbell’s soldiers had been killed. Forty two soldiers and an unknown number of Indians were badly wounded. Campbell gathered his forces and retreated to Greenville.
Today the battlefield can be found seven miles northwest of Marion, Indiana. It has two monuments: one dedicated to the American Indians and one to the American Soldiers. There are also twelve marked graves on the site. Every Autumn there is a reenactment of the battle at the site.
The Battle of Tippecanoe made William Henry Harrison president almost 30 years later (“Tippecanoe and Tyler too”). At the time of the battle in 1811, Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. The battle was his showdown with the Native American followers of the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and his brother, Tenskwatawa, also known as the Prophet. Tecumseh and the Prophet proclaimed an alliance across all the Native American tribes to renew their way of life and to drive the Europeans from their lands. In May 1808, the brothers settled at the junction of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, founding a village that became known as “Prophet’s Town.” From there they hoped to organize their Indian confederacy. As the following of Tecumseh and the Prophet grew, Harrison organized a small army to march on the village. He had the good fortune of being able to force the confrontation while Tecumseh was away recruiting new supporters and thus unable to curb his brother’s rashness. When Harrison’s army camped near the town, the Prophet ordered an attack at dawn. Harrison, however, had posted sentinels to give the alert, and the Indian attack was broken. The prophet was discredited, and Tecumseh drifted into an alliance with the British against the Americans in the War of 1812. He was killed in 1813 at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, where Harrison again commanded the America forces. The Tippecanoe County Historical Association maintains the battlefield grounds and museum today.
Location and Directions
Links: Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum
The boyhood home of Ernie Pyle (1900-1945) is maintained as a state historic site dedicated to his life and work. Ernie Pyle was a distinguished newspaper journalist who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his WW II battlefront reporting. During the war years, his assignments took him to all the major American battlefronts. Pyle had a gift for personalizing the GI experience, and his reports were avidly sought after and read on the homefront. Ernie Pyle was killed while on assignment on the Pacific island of IeShima during the waning days of WW II. He is buried at the Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery (National Cemetery of The Pacific), Honolulu, Hawaii. Today, Pyle’s boyhood home features a museum, video theater, exhibits and a research library dedicated to his work.
Location Information and Directions
Links: Ernie Pyle World War II Museum
The Underground Railroad is described by many historians as the most dramatic protest action against slavery in United States history. It was a loosely organized network of aid and escape routes provided by ordinary people to assist escaped slaves on their journeys to freedom. Beginning in the colonial period and continuing through the Civil War years, its participants included abolitionists, enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans and members of religious groups including Methodists, Baptists and Quakers. Indiana lauds two Quaker participants, Levi and Catharine Coffin, for their distinguished 20-year service on the railroad. Between 1826 and 1846, the Levis provided a freedom stop on the Underground Railroad. During those years, Fountain City was a predominantly Quaker community. It was a known refuge because many of its citizens shared anti-slavery sentiments, and it occupied a strategic location near the Ohio River crossings used by many escaped slaves. The Levis opened their home and offered a temporary respite, food, and encouragement to the escapees on their arduous journey. They are credited with assisting more than two thousand escapees reach freedom during the 20 years they lived in Fountain City. The Coffins’ 1839 National Historic Landmark home is open to visitors.
Location Map and Directions click here
Links: Levi Coffin House National Historic Landmark