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Death of Tecumseh, Frieze of the United States Capitol Rotunda (Public Domain)

The Fate of Fierce Chief Michikinikwa, ‘Little Turtle’ Resistance Fighter


Chief Michikinikwa, who is more popularly known as ‘Chief Little Turtle’ originated from the Miami tribe and was born in 1752, near the Eel River in what is today Union Township in Whitley County Indiana. His father’s name was Turtle and when this son was born, the prefix ‘Little’ was added to Turtle, to differentiate between the elder and the younger.  Little Turtle’s mother was a maiden from the Mahican tribe. Due to Little Turtle’s parents belonging to two different tribes, custom dictated that he could never attain the chieftainship of the Atchatchakangouen division of the Miami tribe.  However, as he grew up, he displayed such warfare skills and leadership qualities that the tribal elders ignored tradition and appointed him Chief of the Atchatchakangouens.

Chief Little Turtle (Public Domain)

Chief Little Turtle (Public Domain)

La Balme’s Defeat

Little Turtle earned his title as war chief by defeating Augustin de La Balme, a military French adventurer who launched an attack on the Miami village and Fort of Kekionga, (present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana). In October 1780, La Balme led a company of 63 men along the Wabash River, but the British and the Miami tribe were prewarned by a British agent that La Balme was on his way, so they decided to vacate the fort. La Balme plundered the fort, taking ammunition, blankets, guns and horses and stationed 20 men to guard the fort when he left. The reasoning behind La Balme’s attack on Fort Kekionga was due to his campaign objective to attack the British and to disrupt trade and communications, but his primary objective was to attack Detroit.

La Balme waited three days at the fort for additional forces to arrive, but they never came, so he left the 20 men to guard the fort and proceeded on his route.  La Balme then decided to retrace his steps along the Wabash River, since there was a trading post down the Eel River (present-day Columbia City, Indiana). At the trading post, he made camp, for he understood that an attack on Detroit would have been pointless with only 43 men in his company. As La Balme waited for reinforcements, Little Turtle attacked Fort Kekionga, disposing of all 20 militia inside, he retook the fort. Little Turtle and his men then set off after La Balme and his diminished forces.


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Cam Rea is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including:  The Wars of Israel: A Military History of Ancient Israel from the End of Judges to Solomon

Top Image: Death of Tecumseh, Frieze of the United States Capitol Rotunda (Public Domain)

By Cam Rea

Cam Rea's picture

Cam Rea

Cam Rea is a Military Historian and currently the Associate Editor/Writer at Strategy & Tactics Press. Mr. Rea has published several books and written numerous articles for Strategy & Tactics Press and Classical Wisdom Weekly. His most current publication is... Read More

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