Thames, Battle of the

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THAMES, BATTLE OF THE. The American effort to reclaim the upper Great Lakes, lost to the British in August 1812, was led by Gen. William Henry Harrison, who established Fort Meigs (above Toledo) as an advance base, and Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry, who built the fleet that, on 10 September, won the Battle of Lake Erie. Harrison's troops, convoyed by Perry's fleet, pursued British Gen. Henry A. Procter's forces into the interior of Ontario. The Americans engaged and defeated Proctor and his Indian allies, led by Tecumseh, a few miles east of Thamesville on 5 October 1813. Harrison's victory added to the future president's reputation as a military hero and restored American dominance in the Northwest.


Morison, Samuel E. "Old Bruin": Commodore Matthew C. Perry, 1794–1858. Boston: Little, Brown, 1967.

Peterson, Norma Lois. The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

Skaggs, David Curtis. A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign, 1812–1813. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1997.

Sugden, John. Tecumseh's Last Stand. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

———. Tecumseh: A Life. New York: Holt, 1998.

M. M.Quaife/a. r.

See also"Don't Give Up the Ship" ; Ghent, Treaty of ; Great Lakes Naval Campaigns of 1812 ; Lake Erie, Battle of ; Tecumseh's Crusade ; Tippecanoe, Battle of ; War of 1812 .

Thames, Battle of the

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Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over British naval forces on Lake Erie on 10 September 1813 rendered the resupply of British forces in Upper Canada difficult if not impossible. Now highly vulnerable to attack by the advancing American army commanded by William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, the British decided to withdraw their troops from Upper Canada and concentrate on the Niagara frontier. The local commander at Fort Malden, Major General Henry Proctor, failed to notify his Indian allies, led by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, of that decision before beginning the dismantling of his fortifications at Malden. Tecumseh, enraged by what he regarded as British duplicity and cowardice, demanded that Proctor either fight or turn over British military supplies to his warriors. Stung by Tecumseh's reproach, Proctor modified his plan of retreat and made a stand at the Thames River near Moraviantown on 5 October 1813. Outnumbered by the Americans by at least three to one, British forces left the battlefield in some disarray. Tecumseh and a hard core group of warriors loyal to his pan-Indian cause remained to fight, but were soon defeated. Tecumseh died in battle. Several Americans later claimed the honor of having killed the great Shawnee war chief. The most notable of these claimants was Richard Mentor Johnson, later the vice president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. But the greatest political beneficiary of the Battle of the Thames was Harrison, whose reputation as a heroic frontier fighter was essential to his election as president in 1840.

See alsoWar of 1812 .


Gilpin, A. R. The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1958.

Sugden, John. Tecumseh's Last Stand. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

Young, Bennett H. The Battle of the Thames. Louisville, Ky.: J. P. Morton, 1903.

Alfred A. Cave

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