The Shawnee war chief TECUMSEH contested the decision; his warriors were hesitant to retreat and were eager for combat against the despised Americans. Tecumseh soon questioned the willingness of the British to face the Americans with decisive action, fearing their ally would eventually betray the trust of the First Nations as they had in the past. Tecumseh held grave concerns that a weak retreat would leave the Aboriginal settlements west of Detroit at risk, so this American incursion needed to be confronted, not abandoned. Proctor managed to persuade the Natives to follow his lead, promising he would make a stand before they made way to connect with Major General Vincent's forces. Proctor had roughly 900 men under his command, a sizable force he was not adept at wielding, as well as approximately 500 warriors under Tecumseh. The retreat began on 27 Sep 1813.
The American Assault
The Americans launched an assault and landed at AMHERSTBURG, under the command of Major General William Henry Harrison, a future president of the United States, in late September, and gave a slow chase of the retreating British. They were soon joined by 500 mounted riflemen and Kentucky volunteers. Luckily for the British, Harrison was a cautious general who did not press hard to catch up with his foe. Luckily for the Americans, Proctor was both a slow and uninspired leader who did little to obstruct the American advance, failing to destroy bridges and other access points. Worse, Procter's command of battle tactics was soon tested and found wanting.
Procter's Stand at Moraviantown
After a slow and disorderly withdrawal, Procter took his stand near Moraviantown. The tired and dispirited British line broke early in the battle. They had a single 6-pounder artillery piece, but no ammunition. Still, they prepared for battle. The Aboriginals lay in the swamp to the British's right, and Tecumseh rode by the British line of soldiers, shaking hands with each man before the battle took shape.
Harrison concentrated his men in a centre column, with the Kentucky mounted riflemen riding hard and charging from the woods to discourage the British, who broke apart before they could deliver a deadly volley and soon were firing only scattered fire. As the British surrendered, the mounted US soldiers dismounted to confront the warriors in the swamp, meeting stiff resistance.
The Death of Tecumseh
As the battle in the swamp waged, Tecumseh was wounded and killed, as was the warrior chief Stiahta (also known as Stayeghtha and Roundhead), of the Wyandot people. Without their stout and capable leaders, the Aboriginal will to resist the very capable American soldiers was depleted, and retreat was more palatable. Proctor led the retreat after the battle.
Some 246 British soldiers escaped and retreated to the head of Lake Ontario, leaving behind 606 killed or captured. An estimated 33 Aboriginals were killed, their bodies taken with the retreating survivors. American losses stood at 7 killed, and 22 wounded. Harrison told US Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. that all his casualties were a result of the Aboriginal warriors, not the British regulars. Unable to sustain or build on his victory, Harrison and his men headed for Detroit, the Americans now in firm control of the North West frontier. Procter would continue to command those who had fought with him, but his poor handling of the retreat and battle would be his undoing.
Consequences of the Battle of Moraviantown
To the First Nations, Procter's actions confirmed their worst fears about the lack of resolution and commitment by their longtime ally, King George III. Internally, their coalition would not survive the deaths of Tecumseh and Stiahta, whose leadership, skill and presence were critical to cohesion between the tribes. Harrison would soon sign peace agreements with various tribes, in a move to divide and nullify Britain's chief ally. Most of the prisoners the Americans took ended up interned at an encampment in Sandusky, Ohio, suffering severe sickness in captivity. Relegated to menial commands for the rest of the war, Procter's military career was soon over. In May 1814, he was charged with negligence and improper conduct. His court martial, delayed due to operational reasons, was held in December. The judge chastised him for the conduct of his retreat, and suspended Procter from rank and pay for six months. He never held a senior command again.
Author CARL A. CHRISTIE Revised: JASON RIDLER
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
War of 1812: Detroit Frontier
Highlights of key battles along the Detroit frontier during the War of 1812. From the Archives of Ontario.
Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther
A review of a biography of Tecumseh, legendary First Nations warrior and leader who fought alongside British forces in the War of 1812. From the Manitoba Library Association website.
A biography of Henry Procter (Proctor), British army officer in the War of 1812. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
Battle of the Thames
View an ink print depicting the wounding of Tecumseh and other combatants at the Battle of the Thames, October 5th 1813. From website "1812 History."
The story of Tecumseh
The full text of a 1912 book "The story of Tecumseh." Scroll down to page ix for a list of images of Tecumseh and scenes of various battles. Right click on some images to rotate scenes clockwise. Part of the "Canadian Heroes Series" written for younger students. Contains some outdated phrases and vernacular language. Note: a large PDF document. From the archive.org website.
A biography of Shawnee chief Tecumseh. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
History of the War of 1812
Read the full text of a digitized copy of a 1905 book that chronicles key events in the War of 1812 from a Canadian perspective. Also describes issues and events leading up to the conflict. See pages 14 and 15 for a table of contents. Includes numerous maps and illustrations. From archive.org.
Leading Myths of the War of 1812
This article debunks some of the more outlandish myths about British and American achievements in the War of 1812. From the War of 1812 Magazine.
The Western Theatre in the War of 1812
An article about apparent deficiencies in Canadian and British historiography concerning events and notable figures in the "western theatre" of the War of 1812. From the War of 1812 Magazine.
The War of 1812 and the Tourist Encounter in Upper Canada
See a series of 1840 watercolour paintings depicting scenes of various sites related to the War of 1812 created by British military artist Lieutenant Philip John Bainbrigge. Includes an illustration of the original Brock's Monument and other structures that no longer exist. Also provides an account of Bainbrigge's travels through the region. Click on each image for a larger view. From the War of 1812 Magazine.
Unturned Stones in War of 1812 Studies
This article identifies a number of significant, but underreported, events in the War of 1812. From the War of 1812 Magazine.