News: Indiana National Guard soldiers experience heritage
Story by Staff Sgt. Les Newport
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 151st Infantry paused to remember their roots during the 200th year commemoration of the Battle of Tippecanoe near Lafayette, Ind. The Indiana National Guard units trace their lineage to the battle that is widely considered the first engagement of the War of 1812.
By the fall of 1811, Shawnee leader Tecumseh had established an imposing confederacy of Native American tribes in the Old Northwest Territory. With support from British forces, the confederacy threatened to drive American settlers from the Ohio River valley.
Territorial Gov. William Henry Harrison rallied Indiana and Kentucky militia and along with regulars moved to strike a preemptive blow to the confederacy. But the confederacy attacked the U.S. force first. Indiana’s Yellow Jackets, militiamen who served with Harrison, took the brunt of the initial assault. They were able to rally and hold until Harrison could reinforce the line and organize a decisive cavalry charge.
The Tippecanoe County Historical Society welcomes hundreds of historical re-enactors to the battlefield every year, and an Indiana National Guardsman with special ties to the park felt strongly the 151st should make a strong showing.
Indiana National Guard Capt. Michael Hall, 2-151st operations officer, often brought his 5th-grade history students to the battlefield during his tenure as an elementary teacher in nearby Logansport, Ind.
“I taught for eleven years,” said Hall. “I brought the kids down to the battlefield, I‘d explain things, we’d go through the museum. It was a good field trip.”
Hall said the gathering was also an important milestone for the 151st, noting the two battalions had not reunited since the 1950s when the Army abandoned regimental organization.
“I want to show them that two hundred years ago our unit started here and they fought hard. I just want to give them a sense of history,” said Hall.
As he made his way across the battlefield, giving detailed accounts of how the battle unfolded, Hall’s audience grew when civilians joined the 151st until there was roughly an equal mix.
John Powers of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association watched from a distance, greeting guests and mixing with re-enactors.
“There’s a tremendous amount to be gained. There’s a lot to learn just by walking the ground and learning why these commanders made the decisions they did. I hope they take pride in this, it was a very tough battle,” said Powers.
Indiana National Guard Lt. Col. Brent Richards, commander of the 2-151st, said he appreciated the planning Hall and the historical association put into the commemoration for his soldiers to not only read about, but also experience their heritage.
“We’re just so proud and humbled to be a part of this,” said Richards. “We’re proud to be 1st Indiana and of how our roots are in the Indiana militia, and how we’re keeping our roots here in this part of the state,” said Richards.
Learn more about the Battle of Tippecanoe at www.tippecanoehistory.org