By Harold Allison Local Columnist
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — In a past column I featured the Mississi-newa River, but it has so many interesting sites along it that I ran out of space before I could relate all there is to see and learn about this scenic northeastern Indiana river.
In addition to Lake Mississinewa and its huge dam, I detailed the Seven Pillars of the Mississinewa, a Miami Indian heritage and geological site. Also I featured the Godfrey Cemetery, a Miami heritage site in the past column, but there is another Indian cemetery near the Mississinewa River.
This one is a one-acre site that was once a part of a 6,400-acre Indian reservation. The cemetery is on a hilltop and contains the graves of descendants of Chief Metocinyah.
The reservation was founded in 1840 and lasted until it was divided and closed. An Indian school was established on the reservation and many of the Indians became Christian converts. This location was on CR 600N at the southern end of the Mississinewa Lake Project area. In the same area near the hamlet of Jalpa is the site of a very savage battle between the Indians and forces of the United States Army during the War of 1812.
Gen. William Henry Harrison, in charge of American troops in the Indiana-Ohio area, sent Col. John Campbell and 787 officers and enlisted men all mounted on a raid against the Indians living in the Mississinewa River region.
The army left Franklin, Ohio, on Nov. 15, 1812, and rode to Fort Greenville, Ohio, to obtain supplies and fresh horses. On Dec. 14 they crossed into Indiana. Campbell’s force found and attacked some Indian villages that had not taken an active part in the war. During one encounter, eight Indian men, the only ones in the village as the rest were away hunting, were all killed as were two white soldiers.
Moving along the Mississinewa, Campbell found three other villages, all now deserted, as learning of the first attack the Indians had all fled. The army looted and burned the towns and then retreated back to the first village and camped for the night with 40 or so women and children taken captive in the first village.
The Indians, upon learning of the attack, began to gather and soon 300 or so Miami and Delaware were ready to try and recapture the prisoners. It would be 300 against almost 800 whites, but the Indians were mad and wanted revenge.
On the morning of Dec. 17 the braves attacked Campbell’s camp. What followed was one of the most savage battles in Indiana history. Outnumbered, the Indians had little chance of victory, but they attacked with a savage fury born of desperation to recapture their women and children.
The Indians attacked again and again, but were finally driven off. A total of 12 whites had been killed and 44 more had been wounded. At least 30 of the Indians had been killed and a number of others wounded.
Campbell was afraid of another battle and headed back to Ohio. His trip back was a nightmare. It was very cold and snowy and his troops suffered terribly. Many came down with frostbite and by the time they reached Fort Greenville 335 troops were invalid and unfit for duty.
With those killed and wounded, Campbell had lost almost half his force.
Long almost forgotten, the Battle of Mississinewa is now once again brought to life each year with a re-enactment of this fierce battle on the banks of the Mississinewa.
If you like Native American history, lore and legend then the Mississenewa area is your cup of tea. The region from Peru to Marion is the heart of Indiana’s Indian heritage, and is a must if you, like me, love the story of our Native American saga.