Stepping Back 200 Years - Mississenewa 1812
An Indiana Premier Fall Event
Mississinewa 1812 is an annual event occurring every October in Grant county, five miles north of Marion, Indiana.
Being a native Hoosier in addition to being a history buff, it would seem that one would be a little more astute regarding state history, but I had never even heard of the events surrounding the annual festival until 2011, the year prior to the bi-centennial of the actual battle.
Video from the Mississinewa Battlefield Society
The event depicts the day-to-day life of all types of people of the era as the participants spend the entire 3 days existing on the grounds as the folks did during the period. The level of detail is impeccable, right down to the clothing, music, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, jugs of sassafrass "root" beer, pit grilled pork chops and corn on the cob roasted over an open fire.
The Battle of Mississenewa marked the first American victory of the War of 1812. Many Indians were supported, armed and coerced by the British while many sided with the Americans who were still in the struggling infancy of their new nation. There were also those Indians who stayed neutral to either side.
During this period, there were many facets to the tensions in the area around the Great Lakes between the still newly formed United States, Great Britain, France and many different nations, tribes and clans of the native Americans.
Early in the war and even prior to it, Indians were raiding American settlements, installations, and supply convoys all along the frontier of the Northwest Territory, which consisted of what later became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.
From Fort Greenville, Ohio Territory, American General William Henry Harrison ordered a detachment of 600 mounted troops led by Col. John B. Campbell to direct an expedition to root out Chief Tecumseh's and other groups of native Americans from the surrounding areas to the west and from along the Mississenewa River to it's juncture with the Wabash River.
Winter had set in by mid-December as Campbell's forces departed Fort Greenville through knee-deep snow in bitterly cold conditions.
Campbell's troops advanced approximately 80 miles to the location of present day Jalapa on the North bank of the Mississenewa. Multiple exchanges occurred with various tribes camped along the river in the area resulting in a few casualties and several natives taken prisoner.
One of the captured Indians informed the questioning officers  that Chief Tecumseh was nearby and was planning a night attack soon. This concerned the American commanders and provoked the decision by Col. Campbell to retreat back to Fort Greenville.
Just before dawn on December 18, 1812, a force of 300 Miami Indians counterattacked the American camp resulting in 8 soldiers killed, 48 wounded and 109 horses killed. At least 15 Indians were reported killed, though that was likely an understated figure due to the Miami's tradition of carrying off their casualties. Campbell then began his withdrawal to Fort Greenville.
Though recorded as the first American victory of the war, it turned-out to have had detrimental consequences as the entire regiment was rendered out of commission for the remainder of the war due to wounds, disease and frostbite.
About "Mississinewa 1812" the Historical Event
For 3 days, the activities at Mississenewa 1812 provide an enjoyable experience for practically anyone. It is educational, entertaining and is for individuals, couples, families and children of all ages though maybe a little over-bearing for infants and toddlers.
The site spreads over several square miles situated along the north side of the Mississenewa River with walkways traversing the 3 different camps involved in the production - Indians, settlers and U.S. Army regulars.
Indiana State Historical Marker
With all of the sights, smells and sounds, the blazing campfires cooking, the smell of fresh apple cider and the turning leaves that Indiana Autumn is so well known for, all of the senses come alive.
There are 2 re-enactments which are scheduled at multiple times daily. The primary battle is reconstructed in the field north of the river near where the actual conflict occurred followed by a smaller skirmish in the river itself which consists of warriors in canoes, shore batteries and bands of hostiles firing from a small river islet.
The main re-enactment at Mississenewa 1812 has an historic inaccuracy which is acknowledged at the beginning of the show, in that the actual battle did not include British or Canadian Infantry Regulars, but consisted of militia members, mercenaries, various clans of Indians on both sides, and American mounted regulars. The show is meant to depict a typical confrontation between the opposing sides of the War of 1812.
Plan Your October
As an award winning, living history event in Indiana and the finest War of 1812-era re-enactment in North America, Mississenewa 1812 would be a great way to spend a few hours or a couple of days If you happen to be in East Central Indiana during the second week of October.
 - Assigned to Campbell's unit as a trapper, guide and interpreter, was a man named William Conner. Conner is prominent in state history for settling Hamilton County and it's county seat of Noblesville, which is a Northern suburb of Indianapolis in Marion County. His original property in Fishers, also in Hamilton County, is now the living history museum Conner Prairie Settlement.
Having settled among the tribes of the White River area, William married a Delaware woman named Mekinges, or "Dancing Feather", who's father was Chief Kikthawenund, aka Chief William Anderson, of whom the city of Anderson, Indiana, is named.
Conner also platted the town of Connersville, named after Williams' brother John, in East Central Indiana.