Indiana has a National Historical Park, a National Memorial, and a National Historic Landmark. The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is in Vincennes, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is at Gentryville and the third is the Tippecanoe Battlefield National Historic Landmark near Lafayette.
All three mark sites that have a national significance and are rich in history with both a national and state importance. Clark helped change the history of not only Indiana, but also the entire United States. Lincoln helped save our country from being divided into two different nations, while Tippecanoe was really the first battle in the War of 1812 which has been called our second War of Independence. Let’s take a closer look at these three sites.
The George Rogers Clark National Historical park is at 401 S. Second Street in Vincennes. It is a very impressive memorial with an informative visitor center. It was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 14, 1936, with a huge crowd on hand to see this dedication. The memorial itself is of Classic Greek style that was designed by F.C. Hiroms and F.W. Mellor. It is really a round room that is surrounded by 16 huge Doric columns. It was constructed of limestone and marble and on the inside are seven very large murals that were painted by noted artist Ezra Winter.
These murals depict Clark’s campaign from Illinois to Indiana and his attack on the British at Fort Sackville. To highlight these murals an eight-foot, ten-inch statue of Clark in his full military uniform stands in the center of the rotunda. The statue was crafted by Herman MacNeil. Around the memorial building is a little park with a statue of Francis Vigo who helped fund much of Clark’s historic expedition that led to the capture of Vincennes.
The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Centerpiece is a U-shaped building that houses a visitor center, a museum, and an auditorium. Not far from the main building is the gravesite of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died at a rather early age of milk sickness obtained from milk that had been contaminated by a toxin contained in the plant white snake root which the Lincoln cows had consumed and then passed on to Nancy Hanks in the cow’s milk.
There are a lot of other historical sites in the vicinity of the memorial as well as the Lincoln State Park and the Col. William Jones State Historic site.
The Tippecanoe National Historic Landmark commemorates the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, which is often known as the first battle of the War of 1812. It was a savage battle between the U.S. Army led by William Henry Harrison and a large force of Native Americans urged into battle by the Prophet, the brother of Tecumseh. Tecumseh, who was away in Creek country in Alabama, was seeking help from the Creek and other Indian tribes in his planned war against the whites. The Indians were in conjunction with the British in what would become known as the War of 1812. The Indians numbered around 700 and were led by Winamac, Shabonee, and White Horse. The Prophet lured them on with his so-called magic, which he said would turn the army’s bullets into little more than rainwater.
Harrison had as army that consisted of the 4th Regiment of U.S. regulars, and both Indiana and Kentucky militia and dragoons, a force of around 1,100 men. The two sides met on Nov. 7, 1811, in what has been called one of the most contested battles ever fought between the United States and the Indians. The army finally won but it was a near thing that could have gone either way. Harrison had 66 killed and another 122 wounded. The Indians lost 45 that were killed and another 60 or so were wounded. An 85-foot marble obelisk and an interpretive center and museum marks the site of the battle and are open to the public most of the year. It is seven miles north of Lafayette off the 43 exit of I-65. It is indeed a vital part of our Indiana early history.