Governor Henry Harrison and the Battle of Tippecanoe
Successful leadership on a battlefield can be measured in different ways. It is possible for a good, successful leader to lose a battle. Conversely, it is possible for an ineffective leader to win a battle, given the right circumstances. What distinguishes a successful leader from an unsuccessful one is his/her ability to oversee an operation using effective mission command. In ADP 6-0, mission command as a philosophy is defined as “as the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations” (ADP, 1). William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, executed good mission command in the Battle of Tippecanoe because of his ability to effectively utilize the doctrinal tasks of “understand, visualize, describe, direct, and lead” operations.
Overview and Implications
The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought on November 7, 1811 in Battleground, Indiana between a confederacy of Native Americans and American forces. The confederacy of Native Americans was led by Tenskwatawa, often referred to as the Prophet, in lieu of his brother Tecumseh who was absent from the battle. The United States forces were commanded by William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory. Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were massing Native American warriors at Prophetstown because they were opposed to cessations of Native American land carried out by the United States government. Governor Harrison marched 1000 troops to Prophetstown as a demonstration of force and in order to eliminate the enemy if necessary. On November 6, 1811, Harrison’s troops set up camp on a hill near the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers. Tenskwatawa, under the guise of peace, requested a ceasefire from Harrison until the next day when they could discuss terms. However, early on the morning of 7th of November, Tenskwatawa’s warriors attacked Harrison’s encampment. A short battle ensued with both sides taking casualties. Tenskwatawa was eventually forced to break contact with Harrison’s troops when his warriors ran low on ammunition. Following the battle, Governor Harrison approached Prophetstown and found it abandoned. He burned the town and returned to his garrison with his troops. He publically declared the battle a success.
The battle occurred as a result of tensions between the confederacy of Native Americans and the United States government. The confederacy of Native Americans was upset by the United States’ cessations of territories previously occupied by Native American tribes. Though both sides lost less than 100 troops, the Battle of Tippecanoe is a decisive point in United States history because it reinforced the rising tension with Great Britain, who many Americans saw as Tecumseh’s puppeteer. This view contributed to a declaration of war...