William Henry Harrison was to become the ninth President of the United States. Tecumseh was the proud Chief of the Shawnees. His and his brother’s, Tenskwatawa, also known as The Prophet, lives would become entwined with Harrison’s.
In 1809, Harrison made a treaty with the Shawnees in which they would lose almost three million acres of ancestral lands to the white man. Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa intended to take back their land.
Tecumseh and the tribes that joined him and his warriors terrified settlers. William Henry Harrison was now the Governor of the Indiana Territory Militia. He and his troops left to go to the Tippecanoe River to drive the AmerIndians out of their land.
Tenskwatawa said he and his men wanted to meet with Harrison on November 7th to talk. The white chief agreed. That dark morning, a freezing rain fell. The Shawnees warriors swooped onto the soldiers.
The battle was rough. Sixty troops died and over 100 were wounded. Many Shawnee fighters were killed or injured. Tenskwatawa and his men left before dawn. This became known as the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Harrison retaliated by burning the Shawnee encampment, but The Prophet and his warriors had already fled. Tecumseh was in southern Indiana when the battle happened and was furious with his brother for ruining his plans to defeat the white man.
New Madrid Earthquake
In early 1811, Tecumseh traveled to villages in the Midwest and the South, urging them to join the Shawnees in their quest to regain their property.
He spoke to the Apaches, the Sioux Nation and the Alabama people. Many warriors joined his tribe, although they doubted they would succeed. One Alabama tribe who camped by the Mississippi held Tecumseh in contempt.
Snow fell early that year. The Shawnee Chief told the Alabamas that when he returned to his homeland in Detroit, he would stomp on the ground and their wigwams would tumble down. They treated him with mockery.
Tecumseh’s curse or, perhaps, prophecy, appeared to be fulfilled several weeks later.
On December 16th, the worst earthquake in US history stuck. Its epicenter was close to the Missouri town it was named after. Wigwams and homes Kansas City to Cincinnati were shaken.
Farms and towns were inundated by the earth. The loss of lives is unknown. Estimates varied from several hundred to thousands. The Mississippi River actually flowed backward swamping boats.
Some of the Alabamas believed Tecumseh stomped his feet making the earth shake while others thought he predicted the quake. They were scared.
Aftermath and a Ghostly Cavalry
Tecumseh and most of his warriors went to Canada where they joined the British forces in the War of 1812. The Shawnee Chief was killed in Ontario during the Battle of Thames.
A ghostly cavalry makes it way to Tippecanoe. In early November, people hear the marching of phantom feet the beating of their drums. The sounds grow louder in approaching, then fade out after the spectral soldiers pass by. Their remnants are not seen….
Still, the question remains, did Tecumseh predict the Madrid Earthquake or did he cause it?