Tippecanoe and Tecumseh Too!!

A Volley & Bayonet scenario by Greg Novak. 

Background

During the early morning hours of November 7th, 1811, the first shots were fired in a battle whose results would echo through the infant American nation. On the banks of the Wabash near the Native American settlement of Tippecanoe, American forces carried out what the modern day world would view as a "preemptive strike". When the smoke cleared that morning, one of the major casualties of that action was death of an even younger Native American nation, designed to be a counterpart of the American "Seventeen Fires". 

Members of the 4th US Infantry take up positions on the edge of the American encampment. Figures are from the Old Glory "War of 1812" line and are from the collection of Greg Novak.

The dream of a Native American Confederacy to stem the onrushing tide of settlers in the Ohio valley was the work of twin brothers of the Shawnee nation. These two men, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, the last being better know as the Prophet, realized that unless the various Native American tribes could unify as a single force, they would always be in danger when faced by an American government who was able to divide the various tribes and play them off against one another. To combat this, the brothers called for a return to the ways of their fathers and founded a new village at Tippecanoe which would welcome all Native Americans regardless of tribal background. Tippecanoe would become the seat of government for their new Confederacy, a counterpart to the "Seventeen Fires" to which the various tribes would pledge their support.

Of the two brothers, by the mid 1800’s Tecumseh had become a warrior of renown on the field of battle, who was also noted for his refusal to torture prisoners or harm women or children. He spoke out against the cession of lands to the United States government under any circumstance. Fluent in English as well as his tribal languages, his abilities as an orator and his leadership impressed the military and government officers that he came into contact, to the point that his eventual nemesis, William Henry Harrison, called Tecumseh "one of those uncommon genius, which spring up occasionally to produce revolution and overturn the established order of things". Tecumseh traveled across the Native American areas of the Northwest, and even journeyed to the Creek and Cherokee areas of the south to preach his message. As more and more tribesmen listened to his message, the representatives of the United States government on the frontier became more and more concerned.

While Tecumseh traveled across the area preaching a message of unification, his brother the Prophet gained a following though his use of magic. Whereas his brother appealed to the better nature of man, the Prophet appealed to perhaps a darker side. Those other leaders who might rival him were often accused of witchcraft and other crimes and put to death. When called on by Harrison to produce a miracle, the Prophet stated that he would "blot out the sun on a given day" and did so – though it should be noted that his brother could find the needed information in a yearly almanac. By 1811, many in the Old Northwest considered the Prophet as the more influential member of the team as Native Americans looked to village at Tippecanoe for leadership.

The Indiana Militia takes up their position - figures are from the old Foundary" War of 1812" line and are from the collection of Greg Novak.

 

 

On the other side of the field that morning at Tippecanoe was William Henry Harrison, one of the most unusual American commanders of the War of 1812. Born into a well to do Virginian family and educated by a private tutor (his father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence), Harrison acquired a taste for the classics of Roman literature which lasted his entire life. He was appointed to the infant US Army in 1791, later serving as an aide to Anthony Wayne, the commander of the "Legion of the United States" As such he served in the Northwest campaigns of 1793 - 1794, and was present at Fallen Timbers when the Native American coalition was first abandoned by the British, and then crushed by Wayne’s forces. Harrison learned from "Mad Anthony" that among the many secrets of military success was what would be called today "logistics, logistics, logistics", a lesson that Harrison took well to heart.

Harrison resigned from Army in 1798 to enter the political life of the new western territories. First as Secretary of the Northwest Territory, and then as the territories representative to Congress, he made a name for himself among the settles of the western frontier. When the Northwest Territory was divided into the two territories of Ohio and Indiana in 1800, he was appointed by John Adams to the post of Governor. As such he had authority over modern day Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and until 1805 Michigan as well.

Trimming his political views to fit with the times, he was not only retained in office by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, but also given the specific task of carrying out Jefferson’s mission of civilizing the Native Americans. To do so Jefferson felt that it was necessary to acquire land from the various tribes, till the point was reached that they could no longer support themselves as a nomadic society by hunting. At that point Jefferson saw the Native Americans transforming themselves into an agrarian society and becoming part of his view of the new nation. Hence, to save the Native Americans it was necessary to strip them of their land.

Harrison went to work on this task with a will and in a series of treaties from 1802 onward managed to compel the various tribes to cede millions of acres to the control of the United States. In the course of these proceeding he incurred the enmity of Tecumseh as Harrison used a policy of "divide and conquer" to split the various tribes apart, encouraging each to sell off land that they had no title to in the hopes of protecting their own.

In addition to his work with the Native American’s; Harrison was a master at building political fences. From his 13 room brick home "Grouseland" located at Indiana’s capital at Vincennes, Harrison made connections with influential politicians in Kentucky, to the point where he would not only be made a citizen of that state, he was made a major general of that states militia. Popular among Indiana’s settlers, he was retained in the governor’s office by James Madison in 1809. However as Harrison continued his policy of land purchase from the different tribes, he and Tecumseh were on a collision course.

The crisis point was the village at Tippecanoe, as Harrison claimed that the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne ceded the ownership of land on the upper Wabash River to the American government. Tecumseh refused to move from Tippecanoe as his people were not party to the treaty and refused to allow surveyors in to ready the land for sale. At conference at Vincennes between Harrison and Tecumseh in the summer of 1811, Tecumseh made his point when, sitting on the same bench as Harrison, he kept asking Harrison to move down the bench and give more room to Tecumseh. Harrison, forced to the end of the bench, pointed out that he had nowhere to go – Tecumseh replied that indeed was the problem facing the Native American tribes in view of Harrison’s land policies – they had no where to go!

Learning in the fall of 1811 that Tecumseh had left the area on a trip to the southern Creeks and other tribes, Harrison decided to take action. The 4th US Infantry had been sent to Vincennes, and Harrison ordered out the Indiana militia once the harvest had been brought in. Other reinforcements arrived from Kentucky in response to Harrison’s call and by mid September a force of 1,100 men plus gathered on the banks of the Wabash for the march north. Officially this army was an "escort" for Harrison as he attempted to arrange a meeting between the Prophet and himself near Tippecanoe to resolve the issues remaining. However if by chance his force were to be attacked, his command would be able to defeat any Native Americans in the area, and destroy the infant capital of Tippecanoe.

Bearing in mind the teaching of his mentor Wayne, Harrison took care to see that his logistics were covered as he advanced. One new post, Fort Harrison, was built near present day Terra Haute on the way north to cover the supply route up the Wabash River. Just before starting on the final march towards Tippecanoe, a fortified depot was constructed at the mouth of the Vermillion River and the Wabash. This allowed Harrison to leave any unneeded baggage and sick behind, so that the force was encumbered as little as possible as it advanced on Tippecanoe.

With Tecumseh absent, his brother the Prophet was in charge at Tippecanoe. Though instructed by his brother NOT to engage in hostile action until the Confederacy was stronger, the Prophet chose to disregard his brother’s command. Instead he preached to the several hundred warriors there that with the help of his magic they could destroy Harrison’s force once it arrived. Rather then attack Harrison’s force on the move, the Prophet intended that it safely reach Tippecanoe. There it would be destroyed so as to better demonstrate his power.

On the 6th of November Harrison’s force encamped outside Tippecanoe by Burnet’s Creek, in a wooded grove above the prairie grasslands and Native American cornfields that occupied the Wabash bottomlands. Messages had been exchanged with the Prophet with both sides agreeing to a peace council on the following day. Harrison, fully expecting an attack in the morning, ordered his men to light watch fires, put out a strong line of pickets and to sleep on their arms in line of battle.

The Native Americans moved out during the night under the leadership of Stone Eater, White Loon, and Winnemac into the positions from which they would attack the American camp prior to dawn. The Prophet stood nearby on a bluff from which he could watch the battle and give magical encouragement. At 4 AM in the morning the first rush of warriors towards the encampment was spotted, and the action broke out.

The result was a savage twilight battle which lasted until dawn, in which 20% of Harrison’s force was killed or wounded, while the several hundred Native Americans took similar losses. The failure of the Prophet’s medicine to protect the Native Americans caused a morale collapse and once full light appeared Harrison was able to unleash his mounted troops on those Native Americans still on the field of battle. The rest of the day was spent policing the battlefield, but on the 8th elements of Harrison’s command entered and burned Tippecanoe. Tecumseh’s Confederacy was destroyed at its birth as the Native Americans proved powerless to withstand Harrison’s Army, and Tecumseh himself was forced to seek refugee in Canada with but a few followers.

 

BUT WHAT IF?

In the spirit of gamers everywhere – what might have happened had Tecumseh returned in time to be present at the battle? Could have history be changed and instead of Tippecanoe being burned, could have Harrison’s army been destroyed? With the outbreak of the War of 1812 less then a year away, would the Native Americans of rallied to Tecumseh’s side and joined ranks against the "Seventeen Fires"?

In that spirit let one present Tippecanoe and Tecumseh Too!!

Specific Changes and Rules

The Basic Rules will be Volley & Bayonet Division Scale with the following modifications

Ground Scale is 1" = 12.5 yards, 1 SP is 30 men, and each turn is 15 minutes:

Loss of a commander rule: Due to the scale of this game. The role of the commanders and their possible loss in battle becomes very important. Anytime a stand within 6" of a command figure to which it is subordinate takes fire or is engaged in melee, that commander must check at the end of the combat phase for a possible casualty. Only one check per combat phase need be made regardless of how many attacks were made on stands commander by the figure.

If the stands were attacked by fire, then two D6 and rolled and a result of a 12 indicates a casualty. If stands were attacked in melee, then 2 D6 are rolled and a result of a 2 or a 12 results in a casualty. Roll over on the casualty table with a D6 to determine the actual result:

  • 1: No effect
  • 2 - 3: Remove from action for the next friendly force phase.
  • 4: Remove from play for 1 D6 phases
  • 5: Badly wounded – remove from play and do not replace
  • 6: Killed in action – remove from play.

Combat by Skirmish Stands: Skirmish stands, ie riflemen, light dragoons or Native Americans that are mounted on skirmish sabots are considered in skirmish order and receive saves from all hits by fire in addition to any saves for terrain. (Native Americans are always considered in cover if deployed on a sabot base.) They may not enter into melee while serving as skirmishers.

Native American stands may become "unformed" by the act of removing them from the sabot. They may then enter into melee, but get no saves from either cover or from being skirmish stands while so "unformed". There is no cost to Native American stands for moving from skirmish to "unformed" or back.

The light dragoon stands may act as "unformed" troops while dismounted and thus enter into melee. They have no fire value while dismounted.

Indiana Militia Drill: Normally, formed infantry stands which goes stationary get two extra dice for both fire and melee. Due to a lack of training and drill the Indiana militia was not as proficient as the Regular Army, nor were all militia units issued bayonets. To show this in the game, those militia units which go stationary only get one die extra for fire and melee.

Native American Morale Checks: Normally, stands which attempt to close into melee which fail morale are marked as disordered and continue their charge. Native American stands which attempt to enter into melee and which fail their morale check are not marked as being disordered, but do not enter into melee. Rather they stop halfway to their intended target and can if wished engage in fire combat.

Visibility: Most of the battle was fought in the predawn darkness, though Harrison’s camp was outlined by a series of large campfires. To represent this, from 4:00 to 5:45 (Turns 1 to 8) the maximum visibility for fire and melee is set at 12" At the start of the 6:00 turn it jumps to 24", and once dawn occurs at 7:00 it becomes 24" in the woods, and unlimited in any open areas.

The Native Americans must deploy on a map outside of visibility at the start of the action. Those stands which have not engaged the enemy may move as wished outside of visibility, but the referee needs to be notified of any such movements. If the moving stands come within visibility of an American stand they are placed on the table. Native American stands once placed remain on the table even if out of visibility.

Harrison’s Army:

For this game Harrison’s Army has been reinforced somewhat as all ten of his regular infantry companies are considered filled out to 60 men (2 SP) and Lieutenant Colonel Miller has been brought along to serve as regimental commander.

The five stands of light dragoons may when dismounted may engage in melee in the same manner as the Native American stands. (Historically Harrison planned to use the dismounted light dragoons as a counterattack force in any night or dawn action due to their armament of pistols and swords.) The light dragoon stands may not engage in any fire combat either mounted or dismounted. Mounted light dragoons always get shock when attacking regardless of whether the Native American stand is in disorder or not.

The mounted rifle stands may only fire when they are dismounted. If mounted they may only engage in melee combat. The mounted riflemen only get shock if attacking a disordered Native American stand.

Native Americans:

There is some question as to how many Native Americans fought at Tippecanoe, ranging from a low of 350 to a high of 900. Harrison believed that the Prophet had some 600 warriors under his command on the morning of the 7th. For game purposes the total number of Native Americans is set at 700 - 800 and divided into four forces, one loyal to Tecumseh and commanded by his lieutenant Shabonee and the others by the three chiefs who served at the battle, White Loon, Stone Eater, and Winnemac.

Tecumseh and the Prophet will act as Army Commanders (AC) for all forces present, though the Prophet can not move into small arms range of any American stand.

Tecumseh’s Conferacy force will be made up of warriors loyal to him, and will function as a normal command with a set morale level and exhaustion point. His warriors will be considered as shock when attacking in melee.

The Native Americans start their attack on the northeast corner of the camp. Figures are a mixture, with the majority being the Perry Brothers new line. The figures are based on Volley & Bayonet bases each 1.5" square. 

The other three commands will represent the Native Americans under the control of the Prophet and use a sliding morale scale similar to that use for the Jacobites in 1745. Those stands will start with a morale of 7, until the first stand is lost at which time the morale for all stands will drop to a 6. If another stand is lost the morale level will drop to a 5, the loss of a third stand drops the morale level to 4, etc, This will reflect the loss of confidence by the warriors in the power of the Prophet to protect them from death or injury at the hands of Harrison’s army. The loss of a Native American stand only effects the morale of the group to which it is a member.

While any of the Prophet’s Native American forces are at morale 7 or 6, those stands will count as shock. Any loss of a stand in the course of combat will effect the morale of those stands which have yet to enter into combat, as well as their status as shock.

 

GAME SET UP

The Americans deploy on the high ground as wished and form a perimeter. Within that perimeter should be placed wagons for the supply train and a number of tents. Treat that area as disordering terrain for any mounted or formed troops attempting to move though it. Allow the Native Americans to start 16" from the American lines as wished. The map below shows the deployment of Harrison’s command.

 

Tippecanoe Order of Battle:

1" = 12.5 yards, 1 SP = 30 men, 1 turn = 15 minutes. The number within ( ) is number of men present at historical battle.

Army CinC: Governor William Henry Harrison (AC)

Army Deputy CinC: (Acting Brigadier General) Colonel John P. Boyd (AC)

4th Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel James Miller (not present)

1st Battalion: Major George Floyd, Exhaustion 6

  • Lieutenant Larrabee’s Company, 4th US Infantry (48)       M5 [ ][ ]
  • Captain Snelling’s Company, 4th US Infantry (62)          M5 [ ][ ]
  • Captain Prescott’s Company, 4th US Infantry (62)          M5 [ ][ ]
  • Captain Brown’s Company, 4th US Infantry (46)             M5 [ ][ ]
  • Lieutenant Hawkins’ Company, US Rifle Regiment (38)       M5 [ ][ ]
  • Lieutenant Albright’s Company, 7th US Infantry (25)       M5 [ ][ ]

2nd Battalion, Captain Bean, Exhaustion 6

  • Captain Barton’s Company, 4th US Infantry (28)            M5 [ ][ ]   
  • Captain Cook’s Company, 4th US Infantry (53)              M5 [ ][ ]
  • Captain Fuller’s Company, 4th US Infantry (73)            M5 [ ][ ]
  • First Lieutenant Burton’s Company, 4th US Infantry (31)   M5 [ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia Regiment: Lt. Colonel Bartholomew         M5 [ ][ ]

1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bartholomew, Exhaustion 4

  • Company of Indiana Riflemen, Captain Bigger (69)          M4 [ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia, Company of Infantry, Captain Scott (78)  M4 [ ][ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia, Comp. of Infantry, Captain Wilkins (72)  M4 [ ][ ]

2nd Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Luke Decker, Exhaustion 4

  • Indiana Militia, Company of Militia, Capt.  Norris (71)   M4 [ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia, Company of Inf., Capt. Warrick (59)      M4 [ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia, Company of Inf., Capt. Hargrove (68)     M4 [ ][ ]
  • Indiana Militia, Company of Mil., Capt. Wilson (48)       M4 [ ][ ]

Corps of Mounted Dragoons, Major Joseph Davis, Exhaustion 3

  • Company of Indiana Light Dragoon’s, Captain Park, (83)    M5 [ ][ ][ ] (3 stands 1–5 light dragoons).
  • Company of Indiana Light Dragoon’s, Captain Beggs (34)    M5 [ ]
  • Company of Kentucky Light Dragoons, Captain Funk (22)     M5 [ ]

Corps of Mounted Riflemen, Major (General) Samuel Wells, Exhaustion 3

  • Company of Indiana Mounted Riflemen, Captain Robb (77)    M5 [ ][ ][ ] (3 x 1–5 mounted rifles or 1 – 5 skirmisher)
  • Company of Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, Captain Geiger (62) M5 [ ][ ]    (2 x 1–5 mounted rifles or 1 – 5 skirmisher)
  • Detachment of Indiana Mounted Riflemen, Lt. Berry (22)    M5 [ ]         (1–5 mounted rifles or 1–5 skirmisher)

Corps of Spies and Guides, Captain Spier Spencer, Exhaustion 2

  • Spencer’s Company of Mounted Riflemen, (60)               M5 [ ][ ]   (2 x 1–5 mounted rifles or 1–5 skirmisher)
  • Spies and Guides, Captain Toussant Dubois 1 x 1 – 5 (19)  M5 [ ]      (1 x 1-5 mounted rifles or skirmisher)

Native Americans

Tecumseh (AC)

Prophet (AC) – may not move with range of any American unit

Confederacy – Shabonee, Exhaustion 4
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock
  • Warriors                                                  M5 [ ] Shock

Confederacy – Shabonee, Morale Variable

  • Warriors (7 x 1 SP stands)                     [7*][6*][5][4][3][2][1]
Shawnee -  White Loon, Morale Variable
  • Warriors (7 x 1 SP stands)                     [7*][6*][5][4][3][2][1]
Huron – Winnemac, Morale Variable
  • Warriors (7 x 1 SP stands)                     [7*][6*][5][4][3][2][1]
Ottawa – Stone Eater, Morale Variable
  • Warriors (7 x 1 SP stands)                     [7*][6*][5][4][3][2][1]

Note: Native Americans marked with "*" have Shock status until casualties reduce morale.

 

The Map:

 

Playing Aids:
Troop Roster Sheet Download the troop roster sheet as a PDF document in a ready to play format.
Quick Reference Sheet Download a customised Quick Reference sheet for the battle.

 


[Return to the Volley & Bayonet Page]