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William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country

Frontier Fighting in the War of 1812

David Curtis Skaggs

Publication Year: 2014

In his study of William Henry Harrison, David Curtis Skaggs sheds light on the role of citizen-soldiers in taming the wilderness of the old Northwest. Perhaps best known for the Whig slogan in 1840—"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too"—Harrison used his efforts to pacify Native Americans and defeat the British in the War of 1812 as a means to promote a political career that eventually elevated him to the presidency. Harrison exemplified the citizen-soldier on the Ohio frontier in the days when white men only settled on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains at their peril. Punctuated by almost continuous small-scale operations and sporadic larger engagements, warfare in this region revolved around a shifting system of alliances among various Indian tribes, government figures, white settlers, and business leaders. Skaggs focuses on Harrison’s early life and military exploits, especially his role on Major General Anthony Wayne's staff during the Fallen Timbers campaign and Harrison's leadership of the Tippecanoe campaign. He explores how the military and its leaders performed in the age of a small standing army and part-time, Cincinnatus-like forces. This richly detailed work reveals how the military and Indian policies of the early republic played out on the frontier, freshly revisiting a subject central to American history: how white settlers tamed the west—and at what cost.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

About William Henry Harrison many Americans know only two facts: he campaigned for the presidency under the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” and he was in office the shortest time of any president. While some will tell you that “Tippecanoe” refers to a battle with the Indians (or was it the British...

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pp. xv-xxii

No scholar can completely express his appreciation and gratitude to those who directly or indirectly contributed to such a study. At the center of this study is the fine work done by Douglas E. Clanin of the Indiana Historical Society, and his staff , on the ten microfilm reels of the William Henry...

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Chapter One: Apprenticeship in Frontier Warfare

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pp. 1-42

About a mile and a half from Prophetstown (east of modern Lafayette, Indiana), the army paused in its approach to the native village. William Henry Harrison, Indiana territorial governor and militia brigadier general, sent Capt. Toussaint Dubois, commander of his scouts and guides, to request a truce...

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Chapter Two: To Tippecanoe

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pp. 43-75

The years between Harrison’s becoming secretary for the Northwest Territory and 1812 forced the young Virginian to acquire both personal and administrative skills. In those years he demonstrated ability as a territorial administrator, exhibited a talent for negotiations with Native Americans that...

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Chapter Three: The Politics of Command

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pp. 76-95

By early 1812, Governor William Henry Harrison recognized that, as his political rivals gained control of the territorial legislature, his political career in Indiana was about to end and that, with the territory soon to be admitted into the Union, he was too unpopular to win major elective office...

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Chapter Six: The Failed Counteroffensive

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pp. 96-149

Both the British and American leadership recognized that the critical North American strategic objective was the St. Lawrence lifeline to the lakes. British leadership saw the Midwestern natives as allies that might divert American military efforts away from this vital point. Thus the Indians found a...

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Chapter Five: Defending Ohio

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pp. 150-186

Both sides faced a quandary after the River Raisin battle. Harrison feared Procter and his Indian allies would push southward and attack his troops, who were without winter quarters or fortifications, along the Maumee. Colonel Procter, fearing an American counterattack, decided to withdraw from...

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Chapter Six: Invading Canada

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pp. 187-217

On 10 September 1813, the sound of guns echoed across Lake Erie; the rumble was heard from Detroit to Cleveland. But the outcome of the long-expected naval engagement was unknown to those on shore; even those at Put-in-Bay and the mouth of the Detroit River could not discern from the...

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Chapter Seven: The Politics of Victory

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pp. 218-246

The nation received William Henry Harrison’s triumph on the Thames with great enthusiasm. Some hailed the Eighth Military District commander as the “Washington of the West.” A nation whose army had been humiliated, defeated, and disgraced throughout the previous year now had a general with a...


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pp. 247-288

Essay on Sources

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pp. 289-292


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pp. 293-303

E-ISBN-13: 9781421411750
E-ISBN-10: 142141175X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421405469
Print-ISBN-10: 1421405466

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 1 b&w illus, 1 halftone, 12 maps
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 871204725
MUSE Marc Record: Download for William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- War of 1812 -- Campaigns.
  • Northwest, Old -- History -- War of 1812 -- Campaigns.
  • Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841 -- Military leadership.
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