No detail is too small as war re-enactor brings Battle of Tippecanoe to life in diorama
BATTLE GROUND, Ind. — Kenneth Bloom grew up enthralled by his family’s history.
“There’s a legend in my family, and I’m not sure if it’s correct, that I had family members from my mother’s side fighting on both sides (in the War of 1812),” Bloom told the Journal & Courier.
As he matured, however, the scope of his interest widened. A re-enactor for two units — the First U.S. Light Artillery and the Second Kentucky Volunteer Militia — Bloom now also can call himself a diorama artist.
“I had been to other sites for re-enactments and they all had dioramas,” but Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum in Battle Ground did not, he said. So Bloom spent the past several years painting, positioning and constructing a scale model of the Battle of Tippecanoe, earning himself the Tippecanoe County Historical Association’s 2013 volunteer of the year award.
Bloom also created a diorama of Prophetstown village.
“Aren’t they fun?” said Kathy Atwell, executive director of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association. “We were approached by Ken and two others in 2010 or 2011 in preparation for the 200th anniversary in commemoration of the Battle of Tippecanoe.”
The battle happened Nov. 7, 1811. Despite a truce between William Henry Harrison and the Prophet — brother of Shawnee leader Tecumseh, named Tenskwatawa — and orders from Tecumseh for his people to not attack Harrison, the Prophet led an offensive in the wee hours of the morning in what is now Battle Ground.
The natives lost and abandoned Prophetstown, located down the hill from the battlefield.
Bloom researched the depths of the battle, walking the field and Prophetstown State Park to gather what it felt like to wake the morning of Nov. 7 to natives or to sneak up the hill to attack the white man for your nation’s honor.
Fellow re-enactor Ernie White painted the backdrops to illustrate the time of day the battle took place and the foliage of Prophetstown during fall.
“My interpretation came from everything I read,” Bloom said. “What Native American life may have looked like. There are hunting parties out. Some women are depicted scraping hides, and men are out teaching their sons how to shoot a bow and arrow.”
His attention to detail focused on the coloring of Harrison’s troop’s coats, Native American’s wigwams as opposed to the stereotypical teepee and the weaponry of both sides. Bloom painted hundreds of inch-tall figurines.
“I was looking at it from the standpoint of the kids,” Bloom said. “Dots on the map do not mean anything to them.”
Battle Ground site assistant Karin Bergman said: “It’s one thing to be out on the field, but then when you see how the tents were actually set up and where the people were coming from, it really brings it to life.”
Information from: Journal and Courier