The Peoria War was an armed conflict between the U. S. Army and the Native American tribes of the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo that took place in the Peoria County, Illinois area, near the current location of the city of Peoria, from September 19 to October 21, 1813.
On one side there were about 150 US soldiers and 800 Rogers’Rangers while on the other there were about 1,000 warriors. On the US’ side there were 43 killed and about 150 injured. Nothing is known about the Indians’ losses.
The Native American tribe of the Peoria was not involved in this conflict. Rather, its name comes from the location of the events, which had originally received its denomination from that of the tribe.
The Peoria War was closely related to the larger scale Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812, while essentially circumscribed to actions within the Peoria area. It also ended after the Battle of the Thames and the death of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh on October 5, 1813, which is generally considered as the ending date of the Native American involvement in the War of 1812.
Most members of the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo had joined the Confederacy of tribes that had been formed around 1808 by Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, and fought on his side in Tecumseh's War and with the British in the War of 1812. Some local tribal leaders based in the Peoria Lake area like Gomo and Black Partridge (Makadebakii), however, leaned towards the American side, as they had done during the War of Independence.
This changed with a series of attacks against these tribes ordered by Illinois territorial governor Ninian Edwards. In October 1812, forces under Major General Samuel Hopkins and Colonel William Russell left Fort Knox on a punitive expedition to Lake Peoria. Hopkins, leading Kentucky militia, came within eight miles of a village on the Illinois River when the Kickapoo set fire to the wild grass and drove the militia back to Vincennes. Meanwhile, Colonel Russell, leading a force of Indiana Rangers and Illinois militia, located a Kickapoo village on Peoria Lake and destroyed it, killing all the fleeing villagers in a nearby swamp while suffering only 4 wounded rangers. The plunder from the village included several white scalps and over eighty horses, but the destruction enraged nearby village, and the Kentucky militia under Hopkins could not be located, so Russell retreated to Cahokia.
In November 1812, another attack occurred in which many neutral Potawatomi were killed. The allegiance of these remaining groups switched completely to the British and Tecumseh's side, and the entirety of the tribes took part in all the remaining actions of the war until the Battle of the Thames.
Native American resistance generally stopped after the death of Tecumseh, but it continued for a short period at a few places, like in the Peoria Lake area by the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo. In August 1813, 150 soldiers from St. Louis came to Peoria and began building Fort Clark. On September 19, an attack by Black Partridge's Potawatomi was repulsed, and soon afterwards, reinforcements arrived in the form of 800 mounted Roger's Rangers.
The troops engaged the combined Potawatomi-Kickapoo force on October 21 and defeated them, and destroyed two nearby villages (including chief Gomo's). Faced with overwhelming military force, the Potawatomi made peace that fall, and Black Partridge met with Governor William Clark at St. Louis in January 1814. Gomo began supplying Fort Clark's garrison with meat, and all the local chiefs kept the peace afterwards, with only occasional skirmishes for several years. Some Kickapoo would later take part in the Black Hawk War on the side of their allies, the Sauk.