Who was William Henry Harrison, and what does his military career reveal about the War of 1812 in the Great Lakes Region?
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 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 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.
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