Assigned to ride beside Colonel Johnson, Dead Eye heard General Harrison’s order for James Johnson, the colonel’s brother, to lead a charge against the British regulars. William noticed a slight twitch in the Colonel’s cheek before he gave the order to his brother. James saluted, turned to his men and yelled “Charge” as he led them toward the enemy.
Although the charge was impressive it quickly came under fire by Indians who suddenly appeared on their flank. In the ensuing pause, as the men considered their dilemma, the British regulars opened fire causing consternation and confusion among the soldiers. As the sound of gunfire and the smell of smoke permeated the air, it looked like the attack was going to fail even before getting fully underway.
But the commanding officer was not about to run. Rallying his men, he led the Americans as they suddenly broke forth from the melee. Charging forward, they were amazed as the British regulars fled the scene. The sight of retreating redcoats emboldened the men further. Moments later, the Americans captured the lone cannon that had been controlled by the British. It wasn’t until later that is was discovered the canon was never fired.
Colonel Johnson quickly took in the scene. The small band of Indians that had attacked lay dead alongside British soldiers. The canon and the ground around them belonged to the Americans! As he scanned the battlefield he saw a large force of Indians.
Colonel Johnson urged his men forward.
“Here we go!” exclaimed someone nearby. Surging forward, the cavalrymen charged the Indians, who were so busy fighting the main force that they were unaware of the small cavalry force approaching their rear.
Seeing everything in slow motion, William immediately understood the strategy. Tecumseh had not anticipated the movement of troops behind him, thinking that all of the Americans were either in front or to either side. This error would give the Americans the element of surprise.
But, even though the strategy was well thought out, they underestimated Tecumseh and his braves. At first the Indians seemed totally confused by the attack, but Chief Tecumseh immediately knew what to do and ordered his Indians to turn around and turn their guns upon the cavalry. They responded with a volley of musket fire that stopped the cavalry charge.
In that brief moment, fifteen of Johnson’s men fell either killed or wounded. William, riding alongside the colonel, was sure that Johnson himself was shot at least five times! But to his amazement, Johnson still looked magnificent on his white horse. His rifle now empty and useless, Dead Eye pulled his pistol and shot an Indian who was taking aim at the Colonel. In that same instance, he saw Tecumseh standing in the midst of the battle with both Indians and soldiers lying around him. He stood tall, proud, and impervious. It was then that Will understood the mystique surrounding this Shawnee Chief (although his mother was Creek).
It’s like he can’t be touched, Dead Eye thought. For a moment, he stared in admiration at the Indian, who was dressed in a bright red British uniform. How can he not be shot? Bullets are flying all around and he stands there. What a magnificent sight!
Suddenly the moment was broken as Colonel Johnson saw the great chief. Taking aim with his pistol, he fired as did several other soldiers.
Will would never forget as time seemed suspended and Tecumseh still stood unmoving, his face full of pride and defiance. Then time crawled forward slowly as his face crumpled into shocked pain and disbelief, while his body collapsed to the ground in slow motion. The great Tecumseh was dead!
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