The Battle of Mississinewa 1812:
A search and destroy mission, the Battle of the Mississinewa was one of the major engagements fought during the War of 1812. It marked the first offensive victory of the American army during the war.
When war began, the entire Northwest Territory (present day Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin) became a disaster area for the United States. What had been a smoldering conflict between white settlers and the Indians erupted into full-scale war between the Indians and the United States. In swift succession, Forts Mackinac, Dearborn (Chicago) and Detroit fell to British and Indian forces.
Those Indians who had been neutral now began aligning themselves with the British and threatened the United States control of the Northwest Territory.
In September 1812, William Henry Harrison was put in command of the army. His orders: Protect the western frontier and recapture Detroit. Harrison believed the Indian villages along the Mississinewa River were being used as a staging area for Indian attacks on his army.
Against this background, on Nov. 24, 1812, Lt. Col. John B. Campbell led 600 mounted troops out of central Ohio on a secret mission to destroy the Indian villages on the river.
On December 17, 1812, Campbell's troops surprised the first of four Indian villages, killing 8 inhabitants and taking 42 prisoners. They continued north for three miles, destroying three more vacated villages before returning to the site of the first village to camp for the night.
Just before dawn on the 18th of December, an estimated 300 Indians counterattacked. When the shooting ended an hour later, 15 Miami and Delaware warriors lay dead; and untold number of wounded had been carried from the field.
The two-day engagement had cost the lives of 12 federal troops and another 48 had been wounded. As many as 45 Indians may have died in the conflict defending their lands.
Campbell's half-starved troops marched in knee-deep snow for seven days as they returned to Greenville, Ohio, resulting in 300 casualties from frostbite. In an act of compassion, Campbell allowed the Indian women and children to ride horseback to Greenville forcing some of his own troops to walk.
The Mississinewa Expedition was the most successful of Harrison's military actions in the fall of 1812. It eliminated the Mississinewa River area as a haven for Indian resistance, restored the people's confidence in the army, and secured the route of Harrison's army for the recapture of Fort Detroit.
The Event - Mississinewa 1812:
Mississinewa 1812 is the largest War of 1812 living history museum in the United States. Sponsored by the Mississinewa Battlefield Society, it is a historical commemoration of the Battle of Mississinewa fought here on December 17-18, 1812.
Experience the days of the War of 1812 in the British and American military camps. View the daily life of the War of 1812 soldier. Ongoing demonstrations include field drill, artillery firing, musket and rifle drill, battlefield surgery, and daily battle reenactments.
The ancient culture of the woodland Indian dominates the largest reconstructed woodland Indian village in the United States. The traditional long house is the center piece for this glimpse of Indian life that has been on this site since 1752. In addition to storytelling and music, there are ongoing demonstrations of fire starting, cooking, and many other aspects of Native American life.
More than 140 merchants, artisans, food purveyors and musicians will delight you with their wares, demonstrations of 18th Century crafts, food and drink of 1812. Rivertown offers reproductions of many 1812 necessities including fine yard goods, silver and tin ware, pottery, muskets and candles.
Life along the rivers and streams in 1812 is recreated in the trapper, voyager, and pirate camps along the river. Each camp features ongoing demonstrations of fire starting, open fire cooking and storytelling in this unique display of wilderness life. Don't be shy about inquiring into to their lifestyle.
Food and Drink:
Twenty Rivertown food purveyors offer 1812 delicious foods ranging from barbecued chops, buffalo burgers, bratwurst, ribs and chicken, hearty stews, baked potatoes, fry bread, pies, ice cream and cold cider. The aroma will whet your appetite.
Stop and visit with any of Rivertown's 32 early 18th Century master printers, artists, gunsmiths, tinsmiths, silversmiths, soap makers, blacksmiths, flintknappers, weavers, and other traditional craftsmen.
Music, Song and Stories:
Rivertown is filled with ongoing performances by Clockwork clown and Company, Voyager Ancient Fife and Drum corps, Common Stock, Dennis and Barbara Duffy, Fiddlesix, Rick and Hillary Wagner, Tim Shaiper, Liza and Mark Woolever, Rodney the Younger, Simple Gifts, Carter Rost, Strolling Singers, Tom Franklin, Bonnie Strassel and the territorial Loud school.