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.
(YT-273: dp. 260; 1. 101'; b. 26'; dr. 11'; s. 11 k.; cpl. 19; cl. Pessacus)
The third Tecumseh (YT-273) was laid down at Brooklyn, N.Y., on 31 August 1942 by Ira S. Bushey & Sons; launched on 30 December 1942; and completed and placed in service on 27 April 1943.
Tecumseh was assigned to the 3d Naval District and served in the New York-Connecticut area. Reclassified a large harbor tug—YTB-273—on 15 May 1944, she continued her towing duties in that area through the end of World War II and into 1946. In March 1946, she was placed out of service, in reserve, and berthed at New London, Conn. The tug was placed back in service a little more than six years later in July 1952. She operated in the 1st Naval District until 1957 when she was transferred south to Charleston, S.C., and the 6th Naval District.
Tecumseh spent the remainder of her Navy career at Charleston. On 24 November 1961, she was reclassified a medium harbor tug and redesignated YTM-273. Less than five months later, on 5 April 1962, her name was changed to Olathe (q.v.). Following more than 13 years of service under her new name and classification,
the tug was placed out of service. Her name was struck from the Navy list in June 1975.