November 7, 1811 is a day that went down in Indiana history. The Battle of Tippecanoe was a conflict between Tecumseh’s American Indian Federation and U.S. military troops led by General William Henry Harrison. Harrison’s victory on that day destroyed any hope for a complete Indian confederacy. This battle is one of the major events that sparked conflict leading up to the War of 1812.
The Battle of Tippecanoe raged on for only two hours before the Indians retreated. Casualties on both sides amounted to nearly 40 men, but it is expected that many more Indians died and were taken with the retreating soldiers. This important battle over Indiana Territory (before Indiana was officially a state in the union) helped William Henry Harrison become the ninth president of the United States. One of his campaign slogans, with running mate John Taylor, read “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” Harrison later became the first American president to get his photograph taken and then the first to die in office, after less than two weeks of service.
Harrison left a long lasting legacy in the Hoosier state, including his grandson Benjamin Harrison who became the 23rd U.S. president. The Harrisons are the only grandparent and grandchild pair of presidents in the country’s history. More historical documentation the the family can be found on display at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Home, in Indy.
The Tippecanoe Battlefield Park land was bought by an officer in Harrison’s army, John Tipton. The state later took over the 200-acre area, and in 1844 Governor Noah Noble pushed for a state monument. Today, visitors can enjoy the commemorative 80-foot monument that was built 79 years after the Battle of Tippecanoe. The park is now a National Historic Landmark, and the Tippecanoe County Historical Association operates a detailed history museum on the grounds.
The park is open each year from April to November from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Like many Indianapolis parks, the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park has a picnic shelter, hiking trails, swimming pool and a nature center. A historic chapel is located on the grounds, and several weddings are celebrated each summer at the park. This historic and educational park adventure makes for a quick day trip from Indianapolis. The museum charges a small admission fee, but entrance to the park and monument is free.
Indianapolis kids would love this outdoor adventure away from the Circle City. Each fall, Tippecanoe Battlefield Park is visited by ghost hunters who consider the park a haunted Indiana site. While you’re there, be sure to visit the nearby Purdue University campus. The zoo at Columbian Park is another great attraction in Tippecanoe County.
Tour all the military history sites in Indiana, including the Eli Lilly Civil War Museum at the Soldiers’ and Sailors Monument, the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial on the Canal at White River State Park, Military Park located in downtown Indianapolis, and many many more historic tributes.
Tippecanoe Battlefield Park
200 Battle Ground Avenue
West Lafayette, Indiana 47920