|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Constructed in 1812 to protect settlers in the area, Fort Vallonia occupied a site next to an old Indian trail. Major John Tipton and his Indiana Rangers occupied the fort in 1813.
Of the two companies of Indiana Rangers stationed at Fort Vallonia, one was newly formed and untrained. This company went out to the vicinity of Brownstown, Indiana to investigate some reports of Amerindian activity. Finding nothing, they began their return to the fort. During their return, a band of warriors ambushed Robert Sturgeon, who had ridden on ahead of the company. The untrained rangers took flight, leaving Sturgeon to fend for himself. The natives killed him and left his body. Five men from the town eventually retrieved his body and buried him near the fort. John Tipton visited the fort and heard of the incident. He immediately took command of the fort and trained the Rangers. During later actions at the Battle of Tipton's Island and other skirmishes, the Rangers comported themselves well.
John Tipton (August 14, 1786 – April 5, 1839)
John was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, where his father died in an Amerindian raid. He moved to Harrison County, Indiana in 1803 and married Martha Shields. He farmed and fought natives, leading a unit of the famed Yellow Jackets during the Battle of Tippecanoe. His next military experience was commanding Fort Vallonia as major during the War of 1812. He gained election to the Indiana State House of Representatives from 1819 to 1823. During this time, he was involved in the formation of Bartholomew County and its county seat, Columbus.
William Henry Harrison formed the Rangers in 1807 in response to a raid along the Vincennes Trace. In one of these raids, a settler was killed and his family abducted. The Rangers initially patrolled three areas. Captain William Hargrove's 1st Division patrolled the area between French Lick, Indiana and the Ohio River. The Second Division maintained a base along the Vincennes Trace at Cuzco, Indiana near the Patoka River. The Third Division patrolled the area near Lawrenceburg, Indiana on the Ohio River. During the War of 1812, Harrison used the Rangers to augment the regular army troops. At first, the Rangers patrolled on foot, but later were mounted. The Rangers received $1 per day and had to provide their own weapons and supplies. Harrison deactivated the Rangers in 1809, but reactivated them in 1812. The Indiana Rangers served as the inspiration for the more famous Texas Rangers. The 151st Infantry Regiment of the Indiana National Guard traces is lineage to the Indiana Rangers.
Vallonia, Indiana has recreated the stockade that existed during the War of 1812. The community maintains a museum on the site and each year celebrates its pioneer heritage with Fort Vallonia Days. For more information:
Fort Valonia Days
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning