Between 1800 and 1810, American settlers flooded into the Ohio area south of the Great Lakes. The First Nations, however, were opposed to such settlement. Indeed, under the leadership of two Shawnee-Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (also known as "the Prophet")-they had begun to resist American expansion. Tecumseh had managed to establish a confederacy led by the Shawnee and composed of neighbouring nations including the Potawatomi, Winnebego, Sauk, Wyandot, Chocktaw, and Miami. The Shawnee Confederacy, supplied by Canadian and British fur traders, was well armed with weapons.
In 1811, Brigadier-General William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, led a force of 1,000 American troops to the main Shawnee settlement, a community called Prophet's Town on the Tippecanoe River. Harrison hoped to deal with the Shawnee threat and, having received information that Tecumseh and the majority of Shawnee warriors were not at Prophet's Town, decided to launch an attack as quickly as possible.
A small group of Potawatomi and Winnebago warriors defended the settlement. On 7 November 1811, as the American troops advanced, the warriors launched a desperate attack to stop them before they reached Prophet's Town. A battle ensued, and the American force repelled the warriors' assault. Low on ammunition, the Potawatomi and Winnebego retreated, and Harrison's troops entered Prophet's Town on the morning of 9 November. They destroyed the settlement and burned the crops and food stores. Harrison also discovered a large cache of British muskets.
Tecumseh and his Shawnee allies had been acquiring arms and ammunition from the North West Company. For the Americans, it was clear that the Canadian fur traders must be stopped and that an invasion of Canada was the obvious solution.