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The Northwest Indian War (1785–1795), also known as the Ohio War, Little Turtle's War, and by other names, was a war between the United States and a confederation of numerous Native American tribes, with support from the British, for control of the Northwest Territory. It followed centuries of conflict over this territory, first among Native American tribes, and then with the added shifting alliances among the tribes and the European powers of France and Great Britain, and their colonials.

Northwest Indian War
Part of the American Indian Wars
Treaty of Greenville.jpg
This depiction of the Treaty of Greenville negotiations may have been painted by one of Anthony Wayne's officers.

United States victory

US occupation of the Northwest Territory
 United States
Western Confederacy
 Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
United States George Washington
United States Josiah Harmar
United States Arthur St. Clair
United States Anthony Wayne
United States James Wilkinson
Blue Jacket
Little Turtle
Kingdom of Great Britain Alexander McKillop
4,000 colonial militiamen 10,000 Native American warriors
1 British company
Casualties and losses
1,221 killed
458 wounded
1,000+ killed
Unknown wounded

Under the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded to the U.S. "control" of what were known as the Ohio Country and the Illinois Country, which were occupied by numerous Native American peoples. Despite the treaty, the British kept forts there and continued policies that supported the Native Americans. With the encroachment of European settlers west of the Appalachians after the War, a Huron-led confederacy formed in 1785 to resist usurpation of Indian lands, declaring that lands north and west of the Ohio River were Indian territory. President George Washington directed the United States Army to enforce U.S. sovereignty over the territory. The U.S. Army, consisting mostly of untrained recruits and volunteer militiamen, suffered a series of major defeats, including the Harmar Campaign (1790) and St. Clair's Defeat (1791). About 1,000 soldiers and militiamen were killed and the United States forces suffered many more casualties than their opponents.

After St. Clair's disaster, Washington ordered Revolutionary War hero General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to organize and train a proper fighting force. Wayne took command of the new Legion of the United States late in 1792. After a methodical campaign up the Great Miami and Maumee river valleys in western Ohio Country, he led his men to a decisive victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers near the southwestern shore of Lake Erie (close to modern Toledo, Ohio) in 1794. Afterward he went on to establish Fort Wayne at the Miami capital of Kekionga, the symbol of U.S. sovereignty in the heart of Indian Country. The defeated tribes were forced to cede extensive territory, including much of present-day Ohio, in the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. The Jay Treaty in the same year arranged for cessions of British Great Lakes outposts on the great U.S. territory.



Control of the area south of the Great Lakes and north of the Ohio River was contested for centuries. European influence first began with the Dutch and English supported the Iroquois in the 17th century Beaver Wars. In the 18th century, the region became a focal point for colonial wars between France and Great Britain, especially in the Ohio Country. The French and Indian War initiated when France and Virginia disputed control of the area, and the different Native nations in the region supported their favored trade partners (French or British) or remained neutral. In the Treaty of Paris (1763), France ceded control of the region to the British, although many French colonials remained and Native nations resisted the arrival of British control in Pontiac's War.[1] Eager to avoid a new conflict, the British government issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix in an attempt to fix the boundary between Virginia, Pennsylvania, and native lands.[2] However, this created discontent among the British colonials who wanted to settle in the region, and was one of the early causes eventually leading to the American Revolutionary War.[1][3]

During the course of the war, American forces captured outposts in the lower areas of the territory, but British forces maintained control of Fort Detroit. Additional actions in the Western theater of the American Revolutionary War further damaged relations between the United States and many of the region's native inhabitants. In 1780, British and Native American forces swept across the Midwest to clear the territories of rebels and Spanish forces, attacking St. Louis and Cahokia and Kentucky, but were repulsed in both battles. Within months, General George Rogers Clark retaliated by crossing the Ohio River and attacking Shawnee towns Chillicothe and Piqua. That same year, French officer Augustin de La Balme led a militia force towards Fort Detroit, stopping to sack Kekionga along the way. The Miami tribes, which had been divided in their allegiances during the Revolution, now joined against the United States, and the retaliation against La Balme's militia launched the military career of an obscure Miami named Mihšihkinaahkwa, known as Little Turtle.[4]:88-89 Two of the last battles of the Revolutionary War include the 1782 Siege of Fort Henry and Battle of Blue Licks, both attacks by British and Native Americans on settlers across the Ohio River in Virginia and Kentucky. The same year saw the Gnadenhutten massacre and Crawford expedition, which further increased distrust between Native Americans and the United States. The western theater had a markedly different tone than the European style battles in the east, which left a generational impact on US settlers and Native Nations.[Note 1]

In the Treaty of Paris (1783), Great Britain ceded control of the region, but the native nations were not party to these negotiations. Many preferred to trade with the British rather than the young United States, and British agents continued to operate in the region and influence the residents. The Iroquois and the western tribes met on the Sandusky Bay in the same year and, after listening to the pan-Indian ideals of Joseph Brant and Alexander McKee, pledged that no one would concede land to the United States without permission of the entire association.[4]:89-91 Fighting in the west did not end with the treaty, however. 40 Pennsylvanians and Virginians were killed by Native Americans in Spring 1784, and conflicts continued in Kentucky.[5]

The young United States negotiated the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), in which the Iroquois Nations ceded control of the region, but the Iroquois leaders refused to ratify the treaty because it gave away too much land, and the Western Confederacy refused to recognize any right of the Iroquois to give away control of lands which the Iroquois did not occupy. In the following year, the Treaty of Fort McIntosh attempted to open most of the Ohio Country to American settlement. This united the tribes of the Western Confederacy in opposition to American encroachment on their territories. In 1786, a Wyandot messenger named Scotosh warned Congress that the Wabash, Twightwee, and Miami nations would disrupt U.S. surveyors, and Congress promised reprisals if that occurred.[6] The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 formally organized the entire Northwest Territory under United States control, and prohibited the taking of Indian lands "without their consent."

The governor of the Northwest Territory, General Arthur St. Clair, invited American Indian nations to Fort Harmar in Autumn 1788, in order to negotiate terms by which the United States could purchase lands from them and avoid war. The sight of Fort Harmar and nearby Marietta North of the Ohio River convinced some that negotiations with the United States were necessary. At pre-negotiation meetings, Joseph Brant offered a compromise to other Native American leaders: to allow existing US settlements north of the Ohio River and draw a new boundary at the mouth of the Muskingum River.[4]:108-110 Other leaders were infuriated by US incursions across the Ohio, and rejected Brant's compromise. A Wyandot delegation offered a belt of peace to the Miami delegation, but they refused to accept it. One of the Wyandot then placed it on Little Turtle's shoulder, but the Miami leader shrugged it off to the ground.[4]:112 Brant then sent St. Clair a letter asking that treaty negotiations be held at a different location; St. Clair refused, and accused Brant of acting for the British. At this, Brant determined to boycott negotiations with the United States, and suggested others do the same. About 200 moderate American Indians came to Fort Harmar in December, and agreed to concessions in the 1789 Treaty of Fort Harmar, which moved the border and named the United States as sovereign over native lands.[4]:112-113 To those who had refused to attend or sign, the treaty re-enforced the United State's appetite for native lands in the region without addressing the concerns of the native nations.

Formation of the confederacyEdit

Map of Native tribes in the Northwest Territory

Co-operation among the Native American tribes forming the Western Confederacy had gone back to the French colonial era. It was renewed during the American Revolutionary War. The confederacy formally came together in Autumn 1785 at Fort Detroit, proclaiming that the parties to the confederacy would deal jointly with the United States, forbidding individual tribes from dealing directly with the United States, and declaring the Ohio River as the boundary between their lands and those of American settlers.[7] This determination was renewed in 1786 at the Wyandot (Huron) village of Upper Sandusky.

The confederacy was a loose association of primarily Algonquin-speaking tribes in the Great Lakes area. The Wyandot (Huron) were the nominal "fathers," or senior guaranteeing tribe of the confederacy, but the Shawnee and Miami provided the greatest share of the fighting forces. Other tribes in the confederacy included the Delaware (Lenape), Council of Three Fires (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi), Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, and Wabash Confederacy (Wea, Piankashaw, and others).[8] In most cases, an entire tribe was not involved in the war; the Indian societies were generally not centralized. Villages and individual warriors and chiefs decided on participation in the war. Nearly 200 Cherokee warriors from two bands of the Overmountain Towns fought alongside the Shawnee from the inception of the Revolution through the years of the Indian Confederacy. In addition, the Chickamauga (Lower Town) Cherokee leader, Dragging Canoe, sent a contingent of warriors for a specific action.

Some warriors of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes from the southeast, which had been traditional enemies of the northwest tribes, served as scouts for the United States during these years.

British influenceEdit

Still opposed to the US, some British agents in the region sold weapons and ammunition to the Indians and encouraged attacks on American settlers.

British Lieutenant Governor John Simcoe, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, was delighted with the United States' failures, and hoped for British involvement in the creation of a neutral barrier state between the United States and Canada.[9]:229 In 1793, however, Simcoe abruptly changed policy and sought peace with the United States in order to avoid opening a new front in the French Revolutionary Wars.[9]:231 Simcoe treated the United States commissioners – Benjamin Lincoln, Beverly Randolph, and Timothy Pickering – cordially when they arrived at Niagara in May 1793,[9]:238–40 seeking an escort by way of the Great Lakes in order to avoid the fate of John Hardin and Alexander Truman in 1792.[10]:105

Course of the warEdit

Map of the Northwest Indian War

Logan's raidEdit

War parties launched a series of isolated raids in the mid-1780s, resulting in escalating bloodshed and mistrust. In the fall of 1786, General Benjamin Logan led a force of Federal soldiers and mounted Kentucky militia against several Shawnee towns along the Mad River. These were defended primarily by noncombatants while the warriors were raiding forts in Kentucky. Logan burned the native towns and food supplies, and killed or captured numerous natives, including their chief Moluntha, who was murdered by one of Logan's men. Logan's raid and the execution of the chief embittered the Shawnees, who retaliated by escalating their attacks on American settlers.

Native American raids on both sides of the Ohio River resulted in increasing casualties. During the mid- and late-1780s, American settlers south of the Ohio River in Kentucky and travelers on and north of the Ohio River suffered approximately 1,500 casualties. Settlers retaliated with attacks on Indians.

Harmar CampaignEdit

In 1790, President George Washington and Secretary of War Henry Knox ordered General Josiah Harmar to launch the Harmar campaign, a major western offensive into the Shawnee and Miami country. General Harmar's ultimate goal was Kekionga, a large Native American city that was important to the British trade economy,[11] and that protected a strategic portage between the Great Lakes Basin and Mississippi watershed. Here, western native leaders met to determine a response to the Treaty of Fort Harmar. [4]:113-115

General Harmar's forces of about 1,453 militia and regulars departed Fort Washington on 7 October 1790. From 19–21 October 1790, General Harmar lost 3 successive skirmishes near Kekionga (present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. On 19 October, a scouting party of about 400 mixed forces under the command of Colonel John Hardin was lured into an ambush near the village of Le Gris, losing 129 soldiers in one of two defeats that has been called Hardin's Defeat.[12][13] The following day, another scouting party under Ensign Phillip Hartshorn was ambushed, but Harmar did not move to assist them or recover their remains. Finally, on 21 October 1790, a mixed party of militia and regulars under Colonel Hardin established attack positions on Kekionga and awaited reinforcements from General Harmar, which never came. Instead, forces under Little Turtle overwhelmed Hardin and compelled the U.S. forces to retreat in the second battle known as Harmar's Defeat. With 3 consecutive losses, more than 300 casualties, and low morale, Harmar retreated to Fort Washington.

Because they were both present when Harmar's army arrived, this was the first full military operation shared between Miami leader Little Turtle and Shawnee leader Blue Jacket.[4]:113-115 It was largest Native American victory over US forces until the following year,[14] and emboldened Native Nations within the Northwest Territory. The following January, Indian forces attacked settlements at the Big Bottom massacre and the Siege of Dunlap's Station.[15]

St. Clair's defeatEdit

Illustration from Theodore Roosevelt's article on St. Clair's Defeat, featured in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, February 1896.[16]

Washington ordered Major General Arthur St. Clair, who had been president of Congress when the Northwest Ordinance passed and was now serving as governor of the Northwest Territory, to mount a more vigorous effort by Summer 1791. After considerable trouble finding men and supplies, St. Clair was somewhat ready, but the troops had received little training. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkinson led raids along the Wabash River, intending to create a distraction that would aid St. Clair's march north. In the Battle of Kenapacomaqua, Wilkinson killed 9 Wea and Miami, and captured 34 Miami as prisoners, including a daughter of Miami war chief Little Turtle.[17] Many of the confederation leaders were considering terms of peace to present to the United States, but when they received news of Wilkinson's raid, they readied for war.[9]:159 Wilkinson's raid thus had the opposite effect, uniting the tribes against St. Clair instead of distracting them.

St. Clair's army of 1,486 and 200 camp followers did not depart Fort Washington until October 1791, giving the confederation time to react. St. Clair stopped to erect Fort Jefferson as a supply depot and continued North towards Kekionga, but the army and followers had dwindled to a combined mass of 1,120 by November. At dawn on 4 November 1791, St. Clair's force was camped (near modern Fort Recovery, Ohio) with weak defenses set up on the perimeter. A Native American force of about 2,000 warriors, led by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket, struck quickly. Surprising the Americans, they soon overran the poorly prepared perimeter. The barely trained recruits panicked and were slaughtered, along with many of their officers, who frantically tried to restore order and stop the rout. After 4 hours, St. Clair ordered an evacuation, abandoning the wounded.[18] The small Fort Jefferson could not protect the retreating forces, and they were forced to continue all the way to Fort Washington for safety. The U.S. casualty rate was 69%, based on the deaths of 632 of the 920 soldiers and officers, with 264 wounded. Nearly all of the 200 unarmed camp followers were killed, for a total of about 832 deaths—the highest United States losses in any of its battles with Native Americans.[19] [20] St. Clair and his aide-de-camp were among the wounded. With a casualty rate of 97%, St. Clair's Defeat remains one of the worst disasters in U.S. Army history.[21]

The American Indian coalition did not immediately follow up on their victory. Instead, most returned to their villages to hunt before Winter set in,[9]:196. Kekionga was short on supplies because of the war, so they moved most of the inhabitants to the Auglaize River.[4]:143-144 This removed them from the target of repeated military campaigns, but as Thomas McKee argued, also put them closer to the trade and military support offered by the British at Detroit. The various leaders agreed to a grand council the following year.

The British conceived plans to re-negotiate control of the NorthWest Territory with the United States, but opted instead to curry favor with the young republic due to escalating tensions with France. The US response was markedly different. Within weeks of learning of the disaster, President Washington declared the US to be "involved in actual war!"[9]:203–205 and urged Congress to raise an army capable of conducting a successful offense against the Western Confederacy. Congress responded by establishing the Legion of the United States and increasing military pay.[22] It also passed the Militia Acts of 1792.[23] Washington forced St. Clair to resign, replacing him with Major General Anthony Wayne.

Fort JeffersonEdit

In January 1792, Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkinson assumed command of the Second Regiment United States Army at Fort Washington,[10]:9 and constructed Fort St. Clair to improve communications and logistics between Fort Hamilton and Fort Jefferson.[9]:218 The three forts were garrisoned with less than 150 men each, including infirmed soldiers and servants.[10]:13 On 11 June 1792, a force of about 15 Shawnee and Delaware attacked the northern-most outpost, Fort Jefferson, while the detachment there was cutting hay. Four soldiers were killed and left in the hay and 15 were captured. Eleven of the captives, including the sergeant in charge, were later killed, and the four remaining soldiers were sent to a Chippewa village.[9]:219 On 29 September, several soldiers were killed while guarding cattle at Fort Jefferson.[9]:219

Council on the AuglaizeEdit

Seneca Chief Cornplanter was a leader of the moderate faction at the 1792 Grand Council on the Auglaize River

Later in 1792, a U.S. delegation led by Rufus Putnam and John Hamtramck, and with assistance from Little Turtle's son-in-law William Wells, negotiated a treaty with the tribes of the lower Wabash River. The treaty and the Wabash tribes were celebrated in Philadelphia, and Henry Knox suggested that the confederacy had been weakened by 800 warriors. The U.S. senate would not consider the treaty for another 2 years, however, at which point it failed to ratify it.[4]:256, 262

After the discovery of United States espionage operations,[9]:211-12 Washington sent out Peace emissaries. The first was Major Alexander Truman,[24] his servant William Lynch and guide/interpreter William Smalley. Truman and Lynch were killed; Truman was apparently killed prior to April 20, 1792 at what later became Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio.[25] A similar mission in May 1792 under Colonel John Hardin also ended in Hardin and his servant Freeman being mistaken for spies and killed on the site of modern Hardin, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Native American tribes continued to debate whether to continue the war or sue for peace while they had the advantage. A Grand Council of several nations met at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee Rivers in Sept. 1792.[9]:223 Alexander McKee represented British interests and arrived in late September. For a week in October, pro-war factions, especially Simon Girty, the Shawnee, and Miami, debated moderate factions, especially the Six Nations represented by Cornplanter and Red Jacket.[9]:226-7 The Council agreed that the Ohio River must remain the boundary of the United States, that the forts in the Ohio Country must be destroyed, and that they would meet with the United States at the Lower Sandusky River in spring 1793.[9]:227 The United States received the demands of the Grand Council with indignation, but Henry Knox agreed to send treaty commissioners Benjamin Lincoln, Timothy Pickering, and Beverley Randolph to the 1793 council[26] and suspend all offensive operations until that time.[9]:228

Raid on Camp St. ClairEdit

Following the decision of the Grand Council, Little Turtle gathered a force of 200 Miami and Shawnee from Auglaize past Fort Jefferson and Fort St. Clair,[4]:264-266 and reached Fort Hamilton on 3 November in time to attack close to the United States settlements on the anniversary of St. Clair's Defeat. They captured two prisoners and learned that a large convoy of packhorses had left for Fort Jefferson and was due back in a matter of days. Little Turtle moved north and found the convoy, nearly 100 horses and 100 Kentucky militia led by Major John Adair, camped just outside Fort St. Clair.[9]:220 Little Turtle attacked at dawn, just as Major Adair recalled his sentries. The militia conducted an organized retreat to the fort, losing six killed and four missing, while another five were wounded. Little Turtle's forces lost two warriors, but did not pursue the militia forces. Instead, Little Turtle captured the provisions in order disrupt US supply lines and make the string of forts more costly to secure.[4]:264-266 All horses were killed, wounded, or driven off; only 23 were later recovered.[4]:265 Major Adair later criticized Fort St. Clair's commandant, Captain Bradley, for his failure to come to their aid.[10]:86 Wilkinson considered the horses to be a loss that would make the advanced forts un-defendable,[9]:221 and he blamed General Wayne, writing to Secretary Knox that Wayne had ordered officers to only engage "in defensive measures only."[4]:266

Sandusky River councilEdit

The 1793 Sandusky River council was delayed until late in July. The United States commissioners – Benjamin Lincoln, Beverly Randolph, and Timothy Pickering – arrived at Niagara in May 1793,[9]:238–40 seeking a British escort by way of the Great Lakes in order to avoid the fate of John Hardin and Alexander Truman in 1792.[10]:105 At the council, disagreement broke out between Shawnee and the Six Nations. The Shawnee and Delaware insisted that the United States recognize the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty between the Six Nations and Great Britain, which set the Ohio River as a boundary. Joseph Brant countered that the Six Nations had nothing to gain from this demand and refused to concede. The U.S. commissioners argued that it would be too expensive to move white settlers who had already established homesteads north of the Ohio River.[9]:240-45 On 13 August, the Council (without the Six Nations) sent a declaration to the U.S. commissioners, contesting U.S. claims to any lands above the Ohio since they were based on treaties made with nations that did not live there, and with money that had no value to the Native tribes.[27] The council proposed that the U.S. relocate white settlers using the money that would have been used to buy Ohio lands and pay the Legion of the United States.[9]:246 The council ended with discord among the confederacy, and Benjamin Lincoln wrote to John Adams that they had failed to secure a peace in the Northwest.[28]

On 11 September 1793, William Wells arrived at Fort Jefferson with news of the Grand Council's failure, and with a warning that a force of over 1500 warriors was ready to attack Fort Jefferson and the Legion of the United States.[10]:149–50

Legion of the United StatesEdit

After St Clair's disaster, Washington had ordered General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to form a well-trained force and put an end to the situation. Wayne accepted the appointment in 1792 and took command of the new Legion of the United States later that year, taking time to train and supply the new Army while the United States negotiated terms of peace. General Wilkinson was disappointed that he was not given command of the Legion, and as Wayne's 2nd in command, secretly conspired to organize other officers against Wayne.[29]:250-252 In the spring of 1793, Wayne moved the Legion from Pennsylvania downriver to Fort Washington, at a camp Wayne named Hobson's Choice because they had no other options.[10]:109-110 They conducted training there during the Sandusky River council.

Upon news of the Grand Council's failure in September, Wayne advanced his troops north into Indian held territory. In November, the Legion built a new fort north of Fort Jefferson, which Wayne named Fort Greeneville on 20 November 1793 in honor of General Nathanael Greene.[10]:173–175 The Legion wintered here, but Wayne dispatched a detachment of about 300 men on 23 December to quickly build Fort Recovery on the site of St. Clair's defeat and recover the cannons lost there in 1791.[10]:184 In response, the British built Fort Miami to block Wayne's advance and to protect Fort Detroit. In January 1794, Wayne reported to Knox that 8 companies and a detachment of artillery under Major Henry Burbeck had claimed St. Clair's battleground and had already built a small fort.[29]

George White Eyes[Note 2] arrived in January 1794 to discuss terms of peace, but Wayne responded that peace must be negotiated with all the involved tribes, not just the Delaware.[29] Wayne delayed at Fort Greenville until March while he waited for a response, but the council rejected Wayne's call for peace. Buckongahelas, Blue Jacket, and Little Turtle had received word from Guy Carleton that Great Britain could be at war with the United States within the year, and felt no need to discuss terms of peace.[29]:253-254

By June 1794, Fort Recovery had been reinforced, and the Legion had recovered four copper cannons (two six-pound and two three-pound), two copper howitzers, and one iron carronade.[10]:234 That same month, an American Indian force of over 1,200 warriors under the nominal command of the Odawa Bear Chief[10]:241 and British officers arrived at Fort Recovery with powder and shot, intent on recovering the same cannons. The force destroyed an escort and captured or scattered several hundred pack horses used for supply convoys, but failed to capture the fort, which was defended by artillery, dragoons, and Chickasaw scouts.[10]:242–250[Note 3] The British officers recovered one cannon, but were unable to utilize it; one later stated that "had we two barrels of powder, Fort Recovery would have been in our possession with the help of St. Clair's cannon."[9]:276 Those defending the fort suffered 23 killed, 29 wounded, and three captured.[30] Estimates of the Native Nations casualties range from 17 to 50 killed, and perhaps 100 wounded, some of whom later died of their wounds.[10]:250-2 Little Turtle identified Wayne as a "black snake who never sleeps," and asked the British for artillery and soldiers, which the British declined to provide.[31]

Before departing Fort Recovery, Wayne sent a final offer of peace with two captured prisoners to the leaders of the confederation at Roche de Bout.[10]:288-289 The confederacy leaders debated a response. Little Turtle, wary of Wayne and disappointed with the British, argued that they should negotiate peace with Wayne. Blue Jacket mocked Little Turtle as a traitor and convinced the others that Wayne would be defeated, just as Harmar and St. Clair had been. Little Turtle then relinquished leadership to Blue Jacket, stating that he would only be a follower.[4]:337, 369 Three days later, on 16 August, a messenger returned with a response asking Wayne to pause at his currently location, stating "You have only to write & your Business is done, but we Indians must do all our Business with every nation of the Confederacy which takes up a great deal of time."[10]:292-293 Native American advisors told Wayne that many of the Confederation were ready to accept Wayne's offer of peace, but that Little Turtle had sent this response as a delay tactic needed to gather additional forces.[10]:292-293 Wayne departed Fort Recovery the next day. The perceived cracks in the united confederacy concerned the British, who sent reinforcements to Fort Miamis on the Maumee River.[10]:293-294

From Fort Recovery, Wayne pushed north in August 1974 and had the Legion construct Fort Adams. A tree fell on Wayne's tent at Fort Adams on 3 August 1794. He survived but was knocked unconscious. By the next day, he had recovered sufficiently to resume the march to the newly built Fort Defiance,[32] so named from a declaration by Charles Scott that "I defy the English, Indians, and all the devils of hell to take it."[33] Finally, as the Legion approached Fort Miamis, Wayne stopped to build Fort Deposit, which acted as a rally point and baggage camp so that the Legion could go into battle as light infantry.[31]

Battle of Fallen TimbersEdit

On the morning of 20 August, the Legion approached Falling Timbers, a location chosen for battle by the Native alliance commander Blue Jacket where a tornado had felled hundreds of trees.[34] Wayne divided his infantry into two wings, the right commanded by James Wilkinson, the other by Jean François Hamtramck. The Legion’s cavalry secured the right along the Maumee River. General Scott provided a brigade of mounted militia to guard the open left flank, while the rest of the Kentucky militia formed a reserve.[34] Once contact had been established, U.S. scouts identified the location of Confederacy warriors, and Wayne ordered an immediate bayonet charge. Legion dragoons also charged and attacked with sabres. Blue Jacket's warriors fled from the battlefield to regroup nearby Fort Miami, but found themselves locked out of the fort by the British occupants. (Britain and the United States were by then reaching a close rapprochement to counter Jacobin France during the French Revolution.) The entire battle lasted less than an hour.

Wayne's army encamped for three days in sight of Fort Miamis, under command of Major William Campbell. When Major Campbell asked the meaning of the encampment, Wayne replied that the answer had already been given by the sound of their muskets and the retreat of the Indians.[4]:350 The next day, Wayne rode alone to Fort Miamis and slowly conducted an inspection of the fort's exterior walls. The British garrison debated whether or not to engage the General, but in the absence of orders and being already at war with France, Major Campbell declined to fire the first shot at the United States.[4]:350-351 The Legion, meanwhile, destroyed Indian villages and crops in the region of Fort Deposit, and burned Alexander McKee's trading post within sight of Fort Miamis before withdrawing.[4]:351

Wayne's Legion finally arrived at Kekionga on 17 September 1794, and Wayne personally selected the site for a new U.S. fort.[35] Wayne wanted a strong fort built, capable of withstanding not only an Indian uprising, but a possible attack by the British from Fort Detroit. The fort was finished by 17 October, and was capable of withstanding 24-pound cannons. It was named Fort Wayne and placed under command of Jean François Hamtramck, who had been commandant of Fort Knox in Vincennes and had commanded the left wing at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The fort was officially dedicated 22 October,[35] the fourth anniversary of Harmar's Defeat, and the day is considered the founding of the modern city of Fort Wayne, Indiana.[36]

That Winter, Wayne also reinforced his line of defensive forts with Fort St. Marys, Fort Loramie, and Fort Piqua.

Treaty of Greenville and Jay TreatyEdit

The border between Ohio and the Indiana Territory closely followed the Greenville Treaty Line.

Within months of Fallen Timbers, the United States and Great Britain negotiated the Jay Treaty, which required British withdrawal from the Great Lakes forts while opening up some British territory in the Caribbean for American trade. The treaty also encoded free trade and freedom of movement for Native Americans living in territories controlled by either the United States or Great Britain. The Jay Treaty was ratified by the United States Senate in 1795. The Jay Treaty and US relations with Great Britain remained as political issues in the 1796 United States presidential election, in which John Adams beat Jay Treaty opponent Thomas Jefferson.

The United States also negotiated the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, signed by President Washington on 22 December 1795,[10]:366 Utilizing St. Clair's defeat and Fort Recovery as a reference point,[37] the Greenville Treaty Line forced the northwest Native American tribes to cede southern and eastern Ohio and various tracts of land around forts and settlements in Illinois Country; to recognize the U.S., rather than Britain, as the ruling power in the Old Northwest; and to surrender ten chiefs as hostages until all American prisoners were returned. The Miami also lost private control of the Kekionga portage, since the Northwest Ordinance passed by Congress guaranteed free use of important portages in the region.[35]:30


Most of the western forts were abandoned in 1796; Fort Washington, the last, was moved across the Ohio River to Kentucky in 1804 to make room for a growing settlement at Cincinnati; it became the Newport Barracks.[38] General Wayne supervised the surrender of British posts in the Northwest Territory, and personally selected the construction site of Fort Wayne in Kekionga to secure his Legion's victory.[35]:27 Wayne suffered a severe attack of gout and died on 15 December 1796, one year after the ratification of the Treaty of Greenville.[10]:367

After the end of hostilities, large numbers of United States settlers migrated to the Northwest Territory. Five years after the Treaty of Greenville, the territory was split into Ohio and Indiana Territory, and in February 1803, the State of Ohio was admitted to the Union.[Note 4] The border between Ohio and the Indiana Territory closely followed the line of advanced forts and the Greenville Treaty Line.

Several veterans of the Northwest Indian War are known for their later achievements, including William Henry Harrison, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis,[39] and Tecumseh.

Future Native American resistance movements were unable to form a union matching the size or capability seen during the Northwest Indian War. In 1805, Tenskwatawa began a traditionalist movement that rejected United States practices. His followers settled at Prophetstown in Indiana Territory, leading to Tecumseh's War and the Northwest theater of the War of 1812.

Key figuresEdit

United StatesEdit

Little Turtle (Michikinikwa)
Major General Anthony Wayne, 1795
  • Henry Knox, Secretary of War
  • Josiah Harmar, Brigadier General in command during the 1790 Harmar Campaign
  • Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory and Major General at St. Clair's Defeat
  • Anthony Wayne, Major General in command of Legion of the United States at the Battle of Fallen Timbers
  • Charles Scott, Brigadier General commanding the Kentucky militia during Wayne's campaign
  • James Wilkinson, Lieutenant Colonel in command of Fort Washington and Wayne's second in command

Indian ConfederacyEdit

British EmpireEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "By 1783 approximately seven percent of Kentucky’s population had been killed in combat with Native Americans … the thirteen rebelling colonies had lost just one percent of their population during the Revolutionary War." Reid, Darren R. (19 June 2017). "Anti-Indian Radicalisation in the Early American West, 1774-1795". Journal of the American Revolution. Retrieved 20 August 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Possibly the son of late Delaware chief White Eyes. Messengers would later refer to him as "Young White Eyes." See Hogeland, pp. 292-293
  3. ^ An unknown number of Chickasaw and Choctaw warriors got behind the Native American at Fort Recovery and shot a number of Chippewa and Ottawa in the back. They escaped without being identified, which caused a considerable amount of distrust between the various nations within the Native American confederacy. See Gaff (2004) pp. 247–248.
  4. ^ An act to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States, within the state of Ohio, ch. 7, 2 Stat. 201 (February 19, 1803).


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