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The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was a decisive American victory in the War of 1812 against Great Britain and its Indian allies in Tecumseh's Confederacy. It took place on October 5, 1813 in Upper Canada, near Chatham, Ontario. The British lost control of western Ontario as a result of the battle; Tecumseh was killed and his Confederacy largely fell apart.
British forces under Major General Henry Procter had occupied Detroit until the United States Navy gained control of Lake Erie, cutting their supply line. Procter was forced to retreat north up the Thames River to Moraviantown, followed by the tribal confederacy under Shawnee leader Tecumseh and war chief Roundhead, who were his allies. American infantry and cavalry under Major General William Henry Harrison easily drove off the British regular and then defeated the Indians, who were demoralized by the deaths of both Tecumseh and Roundhead in action. American control was re-established in the Detroit area, the tribal confederacy collapsed, and Procter was court-martialled for his poor leadership.
During the last months of 1812 and for much of 1813, the American Army of the Northwest under William Henry Harrison was attempting to recover Detroit and also capture Fort Malden at Amherstburg, Ontario from the Right Division of the British Army in Upper Canada, commanded by Major General Henry Procter. Proctor's position depended on maintaining British command of Lake Erie, as the sparsely populated region did not provide enough crops and cattle to feed Procter's troops, the sailors of the British ships on the lake, and the large number of Indians and their families gathered at Amherstburg under Tecumseh. Supplies could effectively only reach the British over the lake.  Furthermore, if contol of Lake Erie passed to the Americans, they could land troops on the north shore to prevent any reinforcements reaching Procter from the east.
Armed British vessels had maintained control of the lake from the start of the war to the end of July 1813. However, the United States Navy was constructing its own squadron at Presque Isle Bay, commanded by Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry. The British fleet under Commander Robert Heriot Barclay had kept the Americans bottled up in Presque Isle, but near the end of July, they had to lift the blockade for two days to receive supplies. Perry was able to move his ships across the sandbar at the entrance to the harbor and enter the lake, and Barclay missed his chance to attack them. Perry led his now stronger squadron to maintain a counter-blockade of Barcly's fleet at Amherstburg. The British ships were now fully manned and armed, but once again supplies of food were running out. With his food almost exhausted, Barclay sailed out to engage Perry's fleet on September 10. In a fierce battle near Put-in-Bay, Ohio, Perry gained a complete victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, even though his own flagship had been captured by the British. Perry hastily wrote a note to General Harrison stating: "We have met the enemy and they are ours". Realizing that Procter would soon be forced to retreat, Harrison ordered an advance. One thousand mounted infantry began moving along the lake shore to Detroit, while 2,500 foot soldiers were carried there and to Amherstburg by Perry's ships, once they had repaired the damage received in the battle.
Procter had made preparations to fall back to the British position at Burlington Heights, at the western end of Lake Ontario, even before he received news of Barclay's defeat. Tecumseh knew that this would remove all protection from the confederation tribes whose lands lay to the west of Detroit. He attempted to dissuade Procter:
Our fleet has gone out, we know they have fought; we have heard the great guns but know nothing of what has happened to our Father with one Arm [Barclay had lost an arm in 1809]. Our ships have gone one way, and we are much astonished to see our Father [Procter] tying up everything and preparing to run the other, without letting his red children know what his intentions are.... We must compare our Father's conduct to a fat animal that carries its tail upon its back; but when affrighted, it drops it between its legs and runs off. 
Nevertheless, Procter knew he could not defend Fort Amherstburg, since not only was there was no food, but the fort's cannons had been removed and mounted on Barclay's ships. He began to retreat up the Thames River on September 27. Tecumseh had no choice but to go with him. Procter apparently agreed to a compromise to retreat only as far as Moraviantown, a settlement of Lenape Indians who had migrated from the United States. This was the highest navigable point of the river and was safe from flanking moves by water. Also, some supplies could reach there overland from Burlington Heights, although the roads were very poor. Pusslingly, Procter made no attempt to fortify this position.
The British retreat was badly handled, and the soldiers were reduced to half rations. Procter allegedly left the main body of his army under command of Colonel Augustus Warburton of the 41st Regiment without any orders, while he led the retreat with his wife and family, other women and dependents, and his own personal baggage.  The British soldiers were becoming increasingly demoralized, and Tecumseh's warriors grew quite impatient with Procter's unwillingness to stop and offer battle.
The Americans left one brigade under Duncan McArthur to hold Detroit and another under Lewis Cass to garrison Sandwich, Ontario. Harrison himself led the main body from Sandwich in pursuit of Procter on October 2. As they advanced, Harrison's men captured several abandoned boats and a steady stream of British stragglers. They caught with the retreating British and their Indian allies late on October 4. Tecumseh skirmished with the Americans near Chatham, Ontario to slow their advance, but his warriors were quickly overwhelmed. The boats carrying Warburton's reserve ammunition and the last of the food ran aground and were abandoned, soon to be captured by an American raiding party.
William Henry Harrison's force numbered at least 3,500 infantry and cavalry. He had a small detachment of regulars from the 27th U.S. Infantry and five brigades of Kentucky militia led by Isaac Shelby, the 63 year-old governor of Kentucky and a hero of the American Revolutionary War. He also had 1,000 volunteer cavalry under Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson. Most of Johnson's men were from Kentucky, but some were from the River Raisin area of Michigan, all of them spurred on by the slogan " Remember the River Raisin."
Procter had about 800 soldiers, mainly from the 41st Regiment. The veterans of the regiment's 1st Battalion had been serving in Upper Canada since the start of the war and had already suffered heavy casualties in several engagements in 1813, including the Battle of Lake Erie, where more than 150 of its men serving aboard Barclay's ships had been killed or captured. The veterans had been reinforced by the young soldiers of the 2nd Battalion. Most of the regiment's officers were very dissatisfied with Procter's leadership, but Colonel Warburton, the next in seniority, opposed any suggestions to remove him from command. Tecumseh and Roundhead led about 500 Indian warriors.
Procter ordered his troops to abandon their half-cooked breakfast and retreat a further two miles shortly after daybreak on October 5. He formed them into line of battle with a single 6-pounder cannon. Proctor planned to trap Harrison on the banks of the Thames, driving the Americans off the road with cannon fire, but once again he had made no attempt to fortify the position by creating abatis or throwing up earthworks, even though the ground presented no obstacle to the American horsemen, while scattered trees would masked the British fire. Tecumseh's men formed a line in a black ash swamp on the British right to flank the American advance. Tecumseh rode along the British line, shaking hands with each officer before rejoining his warriors.  General Harrison surveyed the battlefield and ordered James Johnson (brother of Richard Mentor Johnson) to make a frontal attack on the British regulars with his mounted riflemen. Despite the Indians' flanking fire, Johnson's Kentuckians broke through, the British not even cannon firing a single shot. The exhausted, dispirited, and half-starved British regulars fired a one ragged fusillade and retreatied. Procter and some 250 of his men fled from the battle, while the rest of his soldiers threw down their muskets and surrendered.
Tecumseh and his followers remained and carried on fighting. Johnson charged into the Indian position at the head of about 20 horsemen to draw attention away from the main American force, but Tecumseh and his men answered with a volley of musket fire that stopped the cavalry charge. Fifteen of Johnson's men were killed or wounded (Johnson himself was hit five times), and his main force became bogged down in the swamp mud. Tecumseh is believed to have been killed during this fighting. The main force finally made its way through the swamp, and James Johnson's troops were freed from their attack on the British. The American reinforcements were converging as news spread of Tecumseh's death, and Indian resistance dissolved. Richard Mentor Johnson claimed to have shot Tecumseh,  though the evidence is unclear; William Whitley was a Revolutionary War veteran who is also credited with killing him.
The enlistments were about to expire for the militia component of Harrison's army, so the Americans retired to Detroit. Three modern battalions of the United States Army perpetuate the lineage of the old 27th Infantry Regiment, elements of which were at the Battle of the Thames.
Harrison reported that the British regulars had 72 killed and 22 wounded prisoners. Lieutenant Richard Bullock of the 41st Regiment, however, said that there were 12 killed and 36 wounded prisoners. More than a year after the battle, British Colonel Augustus Warburton and Lieutenant Colonel William Evans both reported that 18 were killed and 25 wounded.  Harrison reported 601 British troops captured, a figure that included the prisoners taken during the retreat leading up to the battle and stragglers captured after it. 
The Indians recorded their own casualties as 16 killed, including Tecumseh and Roundhead,  although Harrison claimed that 33 dead Indians were found in the woods after the battle.  General Procter wrote in a letter dated October 23, 1813, "The Indian cause and ours experienced a serious loss in the death of Round Head."
There are conflicting versions of the American loss in the battle. Harrison stated that 7 were killed outright, 5 died of wounds, and 17 more were wounded. Major Isaac Shelby said that 7 or 8 were killed outright, 4 died of their wounds, and about 20 more were wounded. Participant Robert McAfee gave 10 killed and 35 wounded, while Peter Trisler, Jr. said that there were 14 killed and 20 wounded.  Historian Samuel R. Brown states that there were 25 killed or fatally injured and 50 wounded in Johnson's regiment, and 2 killed and 6-7 wounded in the infantry, for a total of 27 killed and 56 or 57 wounded.  Harrison informed Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. that the only casualties inflicted by the British were three men wounded; all of the rest were caused by the Indians. 
The American victory led to re-established American control over the Northwest frontier, and the Detroit area remained comparatively quiet for the rest of the war, apart from skirmishes such as the Battle of Longwoods and an American mounted raid near the end of 1814 which resulted in the Battle of Malcolm's Mills. American victory at the Thames failed to translate into recapture of Illinois, Wisconsin, and other Midwestern territories, which the British and Indians held until the war's end; efforts also failed to regain control of the Old Northwest and of fur trade routes after the British victory at the subsequent Engagements on Lake Huron.
The death of Tecumseh was a crushing blow to the Indian alliance which he created, and it dissolved following the battle. Harrison signed an armistice at Detroit with the chiefs or representatives of several tribes,  although others fought on until the end of the war and beyond. He then transferred most of his regulars east to the Niagara River and went himself to Washington where he was acclaimed a hero. However, a comparatively petty dispute with President James Madison and John Armstrong resulted in him resigning his commission as Major General.  Harrison's popularity grew, and he was eventually elected President. Richard Mentor Johnson eventually became Vice President to President Martin Van Buren, based partly on the belief that he had personally killed Tecumseh.
Procter later rallied 246 men of the 41st Regiment at the Grand River,  reinforced by some young soldiers of the 2nd battalion who had not been present at the battle. The two battalions were reorganized and merged, as the regiment was severely understrength at this point, and the survivors of the 1st Battalion were placed in the grenadier and light infantry companies.  The soldiers of the 41st who were taken prisoner at Moraviantown and the Battle of Lake Erie were exchanged or released towards the end of 1814. They had been held in encampments near Sandusky, Ohio and had suffered severely from sickness during their captivity.
In May 1814, Procter was charged with negligence and improper conduct, though a court martial could not be held until December, when campaigning had ceased for the winter and a senior board of officers could be assembled. They judged that Procter had managed the retreat badly, failing to secure his stores, and also disposed the troops ineffectively at Moraviantown. He was sentenced to be suspended from rank and pay for six months. 
- Sugden (1997), pp. 368-72
- Sugden, p. 133
- Gilpin, p. 226
- Sugden, p. 127
- Antal, p. 347
- Sugden, p. 249
- Sugden, p. 250, citing Samuel R. Brown's, 'Views of the Campaigns of the North-western Army", W.G. Murphey, Philadelphia, 1815 (first published, 1814), p. 73
- Forester, p.142
- Hitsman, p.339
- Katherine B. Coutts, Thamesville and the Battle of the Thames, in Zaslow, p.116
- Katherine B. Coutts, Thamesville and the Battle of the Thames, in Zaslow, p.117
- Elting (1995), p.113
- Hitsman, p.176
- Elting, p.114
- The 41st Regiment and the War of 1812, by Jim Yaworsky
- Hitsman, p.344 en
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- Antal, Sandy (1997). A Wampum Denied: Proctor's War of 1812. Carleton University Press. ISBN 0-87013-443-4.
- Carter-Edwards, Dennis. "The War of 1812 Along the Detroit Frontier: A Canadian Perspective," in The Michigan Historical Review, 13:2 (Fall 1987), pp. 25–50.
- Cleaves, Freeman. Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time. New York: Scribner, 1939. ISBN 0-945707-01-0 (1990 reissue).
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- Gilpin, Alec R. (1958 (1968 reprint edition)). The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest. East Lansing, MI: The Michigan State University Press. Check date values in:
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- Latimer, Jon. 1812: War with America. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-674-02584-9
- Sugden, John. Tecumseh's Last Stand. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8061-1944-6.
- Sugden, John. Tecumseh: A Life. New York: Holt, 1997. ISBN 0-8050-4138-9 (hardcover); ISBN 0-8050-6121-5 (1999 paperback).
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