December 17th: The Battle of Mississinewa Is Fought, the Second Great Fire of New York and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events have taken place on December 17th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1812 – The War of 1812: Old Northwest: The Battle of Mississinewa is fought
The Indian wars were an integral part of American History at the beginning of the 19th century, and, of course, even the invasion of Canada and the War of 1812 couldn’t put an end to them. The Battle of the Mississinewa, which might also be referred to as Mississineway, was an expedition ordered by future 9th President of the U.S., and at that time – the governor of Indian Territory, William Henry Harrison against Miami Indian villages in response to the attacks on Fort Wayne and Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory. The site of the battle is located near the city of Marion, Indiana.
The Americans outnumbered the Indians by two, deploying 600 Cavalry Units against just 300 Miami Tribe Warriors, so the Indian force was only concerned with protecting their own lives and winter food supplies. In order to ensure this, they needed to stop Campbell's expedition and force it to return to its base, which they did. However Harrison claimed the expedition as a victory because of the prisoners that were taken, and he contemplated sending another expedition down the Mississinewa despite the fact that over half his cavalry was incapacitated either from battle wounds or frostbite.
As a result Harrison received approval and appointed Campbell a full colonel in the Regular Army. The casualties were relatively light, as the Americans lost 12 soldiers killed and 46 wounded, whilst the Indian force suffered losses of at least 38 men killed and 34 captured by the enemy.
It is interesting that today the location of the battle is the site of the “Mississinewa 1812” festival, which is the largest War of 1812 reenactment in the United States, held every October. The annual festival draws thousands of visitors from all over the world. 14 years ago, back in 2004, a large memorial was unveiled and is currently on display near the Mississinewa River in downtown Marion.
1835 – The Second Great Fire of New York
The history of the U.S. knows three Great fires that occurred in New York City throughout 18th and 19th centuries, the first one happened during the American Revolution back in 1776 and the third – in 1845. December 17th marks the anniversary of the Second Great Fire of New York back in 1835.
Unfortunately for the city and its inhabitants, the fire occurred right in the middle of an economic boom, covering 17 city blocks, killing two people, and destroying hundreds of buildings, with an estimated $20 million of property damage (which is an equivalent to $508 million in 2017).
The fire began on the evening of December 16, 1835, in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street, which is now known as Beaver Street, at the intersection of Hanover Square and Wall Street. As it spread, gale-force winds blowing from the northwest towards the East River spread the fire.
The conflagration was so huge it was visible from Philadelphia, approximately 80 miles away. Another reason the fire couldn’t be contained that easy was the frost, as the major water supplies across the city including the Hudson River were frozen due to the temperature being as low as −17 °F. Eventually, the Second Great Fire of New York destroyed up to 700 buildings in the city.
1862 – The Expulsion of Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky
When it comes to the issue of racism, nationalism and “ethnic cleansings” in terms of the American Civil War, one might think the Confederates were the only ones to blame, yet, what happened on this date back in 1862 as the Union Army General and future President of the U.S., Ulysses S. Grant signed order No. 11, expelling the Jews from the territories of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky!
The order was issued as part of a Union campaign against a black market in Southern cotton, which Grant thought was being run "mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders." In the war zone, the United States licensed traders through the United States Army, which created a market for unlicensed ones. Union military commanders in the South were responsible for administering the trade licenses and trying to control the black market in Southern cotton, as well as for conducting the war. Grant issued the order in an effort to reduce corruption, blaming Jewish traders for the violation of the rules of the game.
Of course, Jewish community leaders organized a series of protests against this decision, and after an outcry both from members of Congress and the press, President Abraham Lincoln revoked the General Order in less than a month, on January 4, 1863. This event later became an issue during Grant’s Presidential campaign in 1868, as he claimed that he had issued the order without any prejudice against Jews, but as a way to address a problem that "certain Jews had caused," which was really hard to believe.