The War of 1812 and Tecumseh

Indian people of the area south of the Great Lakes experienced further warfare. Efforts to stop the American advance into their territory did not entirely end with the Battle of the Fallen Timbers and the Treaty of Greenville. Under the leadership of Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) and Tecumseh, the sons of a Shawnee Chief, a religious revival inspired further resistance to the American advance during the decade of the nineteenth century. The Indian cause received a set-back when their force was defeated by the American General Harrison, at Tippecanoe (Indiana) in 1811. These events prepared the way for Indian participation in the War of 1812.

The old British-Indian military alliances had been maintained after the American Revolution and on into the new century through the activities of military garrisons and quasi-military Indian agents. Presents were regularly distributed as a part of this process. Britain had considered it too dangerous, however to give active military support to the Indian cause against the Americans. By 1812, she had been drawn into war with the United States anyway. Britain had the advantage of support from her Indian allies, while the Indians had a final opportunity to strike at the old enemy without having to stand alone.

There is a tradition that Tecumseh became a brigadier-general in the British army, the only Indian to reach that rank. Tecumseh met General Brock, Commander of the British Forces, at Amherstburg. Brock wrote to friends in England:

"A more sagacious or a gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist".

After the American naval successes had given thm control of Lake Erie, General Harrison, the victor of Tippeccanoe, crossed the Detroit River in pursuit of Tecumseh and the British General Proctor. At the Battle of the Thames or Moraviantown (October 5, 1813), Tecumseh was killed and Procter fled. The Americans now had firm control over the frontier areas south of the Great Lakes which Tecumseh had sought to protect.

When Tecumseh was slain at the Battle of Moraviantown, Indians came at night and took his body away. For many years Tecumseh's bones had no permanent resting-place. Although they were moved several times, there was always someone who knew where they were. Rumours repeatly circulated that the bones of Tecumseh had been found. Finally, the men of the Soldiers' and Ex-Serviceman's Club of Walpole Island took action. These men had served in the Great War of 1914 under the same flag as Tecumseh. Their military service with non-Indians had given them confidence. They did not think it right that the bones of the great chief should be treated with disrespect. Accordingly, in 1931, a Grand Council passed a resolution that the bones which had been preserved on Walpole Island were the actual bones of Tecumseh. The Soldiers'Club raised money, buried the bones of the old leader, and erected a simple monument over it. Today this monument overlooks the St. Clair River at the junction of the main road to the Island and River Road.

One of the Indians who carried Tecumseh's body away from the battlefield at Moraviatown was said to have been Oshawana (variously given as Shawnoo, Shawanaw, and Oshawahnoo) or John Nahdee. He had been with Tecumseh in his last battle. He settled in the Township of Anderdon. In 1848, Chief Nahdee and members of his band surrendered the 300 acres they held at Anderdon and moved to Walpole. He is said to have buried Tecumseh's bones on St. Anne Island and, when he died, passed on the knowledge of where they were. They were in the care of Chief John White when the Soldiers' Club reburied them.

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