In 1812, USA had declared war against Britain. This was because Britain forced thousands of American ships and sailors to serve in the Royal Navy. At the time, Britain was also fighting a war with France. In North America, Britain had colonies in Canada and friendly Native American tribes in American West. So when USA declared war, Britain decided to fight back.
Initially, Britain was able to secure many victories but gradually the tide turned and then American forces were able to defeat Britain in a number of battles.
Soon after the war had started in 1812, a British army defeated the American forces and captured the American city of Detroit. The American forces had been trying to gain back the city. For the British army stationed at Detroit, the control of Lake Erie was very important.
It was through this lake that the British received important food supplies. But on September 10, 1813, an American fleet defeated the British fleet on Lake Erie and took control of the lake. The British army that was stationed in Detroit knew that they could no longer receive supplies. So they decided to retreat. It was along this retreat that the Battle of the Thames took place.
When and where did the battle take place?
The battle took place on October 5, 1813. It took place in Ontario, Upper Canada along the bank of river Thames. It was for this reason that it was called the Battle of the Thames.
The American army comprised of 3500 proper soldiers and 1000 volunteers. The British army, on the other hand, had only 800 soldiers and 500 Native American warriors under the command of the famous leader Tecumseh. On October 5, the American army reached within miles of the retreating British army.
The British army, under the command of Major General Henry Proctor decided to fight back. British soldiers secured position on a high spot and lined up for battle. The American army, under General Harrison, also drew up in line and attacked.
But the fighting was very brief. General Proctor and 250 British soldiers fled from the battlefield while the rest surrendered and were taken prisoners by the American army. The Native Americans on the British side continued to fight but their leader, Tecumseh, was soon killed in the fighting. They too surrendered and were taken captive.
The battle helped USA re-establish its control over the Northwest frontier. The death of the Native American leader, Tecumseh, was a serious blow to many tribes in the region. With his death, many tribal chiefs decided to agree to peace with the United States.
General Harrison, under who’s command the American army had fought and won, was hailed as a hero in Washington. Thanks to this popularity, he would eventually become the President of the United States. On the other hand, Major General Proctor of the British army was held responsible for a poor retreat and failure in the battlefield. He was eventually court-martialed.