While still a youth, Tecumseh—a Shawnee Indian chief born near the present site of Springfield, Ohio, sometime in or around 1768—won renown as a brave and skillful warrior. He devoted his life to opposing the advance of white settlers. Reasoning that land in North America—especially in the Ohio valley—belonged to all of the tribes in common, Tecumseh maintained that sales of territory by any single tribe to the United States were null and void. After the Federal Government refused to recognize this principle, Tecumseh attempted to organize a great Indian Confederacy to stem the white tide.
However, while he was in the South working to unite the tribes, Federal troops under Governor William Henry Harrison defeated and scattered Indian forces on 7 November 1811 in the battle of Tippecanoe. This defeat doomed the Indian Confederacy.
After Congress declared war on Great Britain the following year, Tecumseh accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the British army. He cooperated with British troops to win a number of victories in the Great Lakes region, including the capture of Detroit. However, Comdr. Oliver Hazard Perry's victory on Lake Erie, late in the summer of 1813, cut British supply lines and prompted them to withdraw along the Thames Valley. Tecumseh and his braves covered the British retirement until American troops led by Harrison—now a major general—caught up with them at Moravian-town. Tecumseh was killed in the ensuing Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813.
In June 1930, a bronze replica of the figurehead of ship-of-the-line Delaware was presented by the Class of 1891 to the United States Naval Academy. This bust—perhaps the most famous relic on the campus— has been widely identified as Tecumseh. However, when it adorned the American man-of-war, it commemorated not Tecumseh but Tamanend, the revered Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn to America when he arrived in Delaware country on October 2, 1682.
(Tug: dp. 214; 1. 88'6"; b. 21'6"; dr. 9'3" (mean); s. 11 k.; cpl. 15; a. 1 1-pdr., 1 Gatling)
Edward Luckenbach—a tug laid down by J. H. Dialogue & Son at Camden, N.J., and completed in 1896— was acquired by the Navy from L. Luckenbach & Co.in the spring of 1898; renamed Tecumseh; and placed in commission at New York City on 6 April 1898, Lt. G. R. Evans in command.
Six days after her commissioning, the tug headed south to join in the war against Spain. After stops at Norfolk, Charleston, and Key West, she joined the North Atlantic Fleet's blockade of Cuba on 26 April. Thereafter, she made frequent shuttles between Key West and the area off Havana. She came close to action only once during her four months of service in Cuban waters. On 5 May, she was nearby when Vicksburg captured the Spanish fishing schooner Oriente in the Gulf of Campeche. The end of hostilities that summer brought the tug north once more. She reached Hampton Roads on 21 August and, after a period of operations between Norfolk and Hampton Roads, she was placed out of commission on 17 September 1898—presumably at Norfolk.
Tecumseh was placed back in commission in 1899 and, by 30 June, was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard as a district tug. The nation's capital remained her duty station for over four decades. She made frequent trips up and down the Potomac River, most often between the navy yard and the proving grounds at Indian Head, Md. She also visited Norfolk from time to time.
During that period, she was twice out of commission. No decommissioning date for the first period exists, but it must have been brief since the annual reports of the Secretary of the Navy for both 1910 and 1911 indicate that she was active at the Washington Navy Yard. In any case, she was decommissioned on 1 July 1911. Her second decommissioning was probably a result of her sinking which occurred at her wharf in Washington about daybreak on 22 October 1919. In any event, she was decommissioned once again on 1 April 1920. On 17 July 1920, when the Navy adopted its alphanumeric system of hull designations, Tecumseh was designated YT-24.
The tug was raised, refitted, and—sometime between July 1921 and January 1922—was placed back in commission at Washington where she served through the 1920's and 1930's. In mid-1940, Tecumseh was reassigned to the 5th Naval District. On 5 October 1942, her name was cancelled so that it could be assigned to YT-273. However, she continued to serve, known only by her hull designation, YT-24. On 15 May 1944, she was redesignated YTM-24. Sometime between 15 April 1945 and 25 January 1946, she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list. On 22 August 1946, she was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal.