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Yellow Jackets part of Tippecanoe battle

Celebrating Statehood
Yellow Jackets part of Tippecanoe battle Yellow Jackets part of Tippecanoe battle
Karen Schwartz, Special to The Corydon Democrat

The Harrison County Yellow Jackets fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe under William Henry Harrison in November 1811.
The Yellow Jackets were a mounted militia company consisting of 60 men and officers, recruited from Harrison County in Indiana Territory. They received this nickname because their uniforms sported brightly colored yellow cuffs and fringes. Harrison County Sheriff Spier Spencer organized and commanded the company.
Secretary of Indiana Territory John Gibson called out the troops due to increasing difficulties with Native American tribes.
The Yellow Jackets first gathered and camped overnight on Sept. 7, 1811, at Harrison’s Mill located on Harrison Spring, a tributary of Blue River, near Harrison County’s western border where Harrison owned 640 acres of prime farmland. The Yellow Jackets set out on Sept. 8, 1811, along the Buffalo Trace moving toward Vincennes.
After fording the White River, they joined with other forces under Harrison.
The Yellow Jackets were removed from the military hierarchical chain of command and received orders to answer only to Gov. Harrison, who planned to use them as foragers and advance scouts. The Yellow Jacket unit was strategically arranged around the main body of the army to watch for enemies and provide food, including wild game and honey, for the troops.
On Oct. 3, Harrison’s army constructed Fort Harrison at a strategic point along the Wabash River at the present site of Terre Haute. The Yellow Jackets’ number increased when they were joined by Lt. Thomas Berry’s detachment.
On Oct. 10, a small band of Native Americans ambushed sentries at the fort. The Yellow Jackets took up defensive positions but the anticipated attack never materialized.
The troops progressed to (modern) Vermillion County, where Gov. Harrison ordered the entire army to parade for inspection on Nov. 2. Since the Yellow Jackets were otherwise occupied with scouting and foraging, they failed to appear. Harrison threatened to demote all the officers but failed to make good on his threat for fear of desertion.
Harrison moved his army out on Nov. 3 with the Yellow Jackets and dragoons in a skirmishing formation in advance of the army. They reached Prophetstown by Nov. 6 and camped near the edge of the Native American settlement. Harrison ordered his men to be at the ready and to sleep with their guns under their heads.
In the early morning hours of Nov. 7, at about 5, the Native Americans, led by Tecumseh’s brother, the Prophet, attacked. The two sides engaged in hand-to-hand combat for about two hours as a chilling rain fell. It ended just after the break of day when the Native Americans fled the battle scene.
More than 179 of Harrison’s men were killed in action or wounded in the Battle of Tippecanoe.
A marker commemorating the Battle of Tippecanoe and War of 1812 has been erected on the Corydon town square on the south side of the Harrison County Court House.
Militia members included:
Spier Spencer’s Company of Mounted Rifleman (Harrison County Area)
Spier Spencer, captain, killed in action
Richard McMahan, 1st lieutenant, killed in action
George F. Pope, 2nd lieutenant, resigned Oct. 21
Samuel Flanagan, promoted from ensign to 2nd lieutenant and later to 1st lieutenant
John Tipton, promoted from private to ensign and then to captain
Jacob Zenor, promoted from private to 2nd lieutenant
Philip Bell, promoted from private to ensign
Sergeants: Pierce Chamberlain, Henry Batman (wounded), Elijah Hurst, Benjamin Bogard
Corporals: Robert Biggs (wounded), John Taylor, Benjamin Shields, William Pennington
Musician: Daniel Cline (drummer), Isham Stroud (drummer, wounded)
Privates: Ignatius Able, John Ariek, Daniel Bell, Enom Best, Alpheus Branham, Gadow Branham (wounded), James Brown, Jesse Butler, Mason Carter, John Cline, William Davis (killed in action), Thomas Davidson, Marshall Dunken (killed in action), James Dyer, Henry Enlow, James Harbison, James Hubbard, Beverly Hurst, William Hurst, William Hurst Jr., Robert Jones, James Kelley, Thomas McCaulley, P. McMickle, Noah Matheny, William Nance, Thomas Owens, Samuel Pfrimmer, Edward Ransdle (slightly wounded), Sandiford Ransdle (slightly wounded), Joshua Shields (badly wounded), Christopher Shocke, Jacob Snider, George Spencer (badly wounded), James Spencer (slightly wounded), Isham Vest, James Watts, John Wheeler (slightly wounded), James Wilson (badly wounded), Jonathan Wright, George Zenor
Thomas Berry’s Detachment of Mounted Riflemen (Harrison County Area)
Thomas Berry, lieutenant, killed in action
Zachary Lisley, sergeant, badly wounded
Privates: John Beck, John Briese, Frederick Carns, (badly wounded), John Doughery, Thomas Elliot, Grifith Edwards, Joseph Edwards, Peter Hanks (mortally wounded), David Henderick. Henry Hickey, (killed in action), Caleb Harrison, William Lee, Samuel Lockhart, Jacob Lutes, George Mahon, Daniel McMickle (killed in action), Henry Moore, Anthony Taylor, Frank Wyman
Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. In preparation of Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016, she is providing a monthly column ‘ focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County’s history ‘ that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. To suggest a topic, contact Schwartz at 812-736-2373 or 812-738-2828, by e-mail at [email protected] or by regular mail at 5850 Devil’s Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.

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