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The last but a massive conflict of Northwest Territory Indian War on August 20th, 1794 on the Maumee River (which is now Toledo, Ohio) occurred among the United States and Native Americans, we know today as The Battle Of Timbers. The war resulted in two devastating U.S. losses to the Northwest Indian Confederation.

Major, General Anthony Wayne who took command of the U.S. army retailed against allied tribes with the force of 3300 men. The battle victory ended extended land disputes over modern-day Ohio. The battle is about two different cultures and their beliefs.

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Image Source: Flicker

BACKGROUND

As, Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), it waived the authority of the land of Northwest Territory to Ohio River to the U.S. British failed to cede their forts of an entire region and supported Indian Allies consistently to combat American Settlers. 

Two of the responsible American military expeditions named Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair failed to end the unrest prior to the Battle Of Timbers in 1790 and 1791 respectively. Also, St Clair’s efforts resulted in the Indian victory and heavy troop losses of the U.S. in the Battle of the Wabash. After that, President George Washington appointed General Anthony Wayne in 1792 as the commander of the legion of the U.S. which was established as a new official army of the state. 

Wayne (The Pennsylvania native) earned the appellation as “Mad Anthony” during the Revolutionary War for his successful a fearless storming of the British Fort in 1779 at the battle of the Stony Point (New York). Hence, a significant amount of Wayne’s career was involved in devastating Native Americans of their homeland. 

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Image Source: Battlefields.org

 

Wayne traveled to Georgia after supporting the victory of Americans at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, which is considered as the last major conflict of the Revolutionary War. In Georgia, Wayne negotiated treaties among Cherokees and Creeks. During the Revolutionary War, both paid dearly in land for the decision as a side to the British, while Georgia paid Wayne in official giving him a massive land for plantation as a reward to his efforts and a token of thanks. 

CONTEXT

As mentioned above, the Treaty of Paris delineated the nascent U.S. borders, the U.S. was successful in retaining its 13 original states and gained two frontier regions. The Northwest Territory was the home to many American Indian tribes. Many of them formed a loose union by the name of the Northwest Indian Confederation. 

Since they were intended to defend themselves against intruding settlers, they clashed with the Americans and allied with the British in 1774, The Lord Dunmore’s War (The Revolutionary War).  

U.S. Pres. George Washington put exceptional efforts to settle the territory with veterans as compensation to their services. However, persistent Northwest Indian raids discouraged people from migration. Although the president’s top priority was to protect the frontier, still a minute standing army was likely to weaken the defensive capacity of the U.S. 

In 1790, George authorized the first series of military expeditions to eliminate the threat posed by confederation while in 1791; the other more significant expeditors force was set out. First on was under Brig. Gen. Josiah Harmar while Second was Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair. In both of the trials, the casualty rate of the U.S. was astronomical. It is claimed that more than 85% of the combatants were wounded or killed. 

Congress permitted the reorganization of the military in 1792. The reforms included the formation of a legion and an expansion of the U.S. Army under the supervision of Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne. Undoubtedly, he was aimed to approach the campaign with more caution and care this time. 

The military legions were consists of 5190 soldiers split into four equal sub-legions. Each sub-legion was comprised of one battalion of riflemen, two infantry battalions, one dragoon company and one artillery company. Every group was structured to operate independently with a full range of specialized troops and weaponry at its best.  

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There was nearly an age of two years dedicated by Wayne to train legions at Fort Fayette first then at Legioville, Pennsylvania as he has to overcome the chronic cost of sending untrained men into the battlefield by Harmar and St. Clair. He taught them brutal close-order drills and bayonet combats to fight without mercy. His legions were ready to mobilize into a disciplined expeditionary force by the fall of 1793. Troops first moved along the Ohio River to Fort Washington and then to Fort Hamilton and continued in the direction of Miami River.

In December of 1793, the construction of Fort Recovery was begun on the ground of the historic defeat of St. Clair. Placing some troops there, most of them head to the south at Fort Greeneville. In June 1794, a significantly colossal army of northwest Indians with 1500 soldiers attacked them. This time they were able to rebuff thanks to Wayne. He established Fort Defiance and Fort Adams prior to wheel in August. His legions began to build a Fort named Deposit just a few miles away to the south on August 18th, and the place came into existence as The Fallen Timbers. 

Meanwhile, Northwest Indian Confederation warriors were encouraged by their victories against the U.S., and they were raiding and camping regularly in the Northwest. Their chief was very motivated and confident that they can diminish any of the U.S. militaries, and no one can now dare to venture again into the territory. 

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Image Source: Upper Canada History

 

Although they were failed to assault, they came to know about the combat tactic shift in the U.S. defender strategy, and they were thinking to reconsider the negotiations offered by the U.S. officials. After that, they refused the offerings by the U.S. expedients and Wayne, because in due time, they had received the assurances from the British allies to get every possible support at the Fort Miami to battle against Americans. 

Under the supervision of the Blue Jackets (Weyapiersenwah – Shawnee chief), an Indian army of around 1500 warriors were positioned ahead of the legions path to ambush the American military. They choose a ground hit by a recent Tornado, on fallen trees to camp nearby. They hope the tree trunks can hinder U.S. troops and support the combat. 

BATTLE

On August 19th, the U.S. army detected activity by the Indian soldiers. Wayne decided to proceed on august 20th towards the expected camp of the Northwest Indian army. He commanded his 3300 men and separated his army into two groups placing on onto the Maumee as the right flank and at Kentucky cavalry on the left flank. 

The U.S. forces were not at their full strength neither the Northwest Indians. A few hundred soldiers left the field to find food for the rest of the warriors on the morning of the battle. As there was no activity felt yet, the remaining 1100 men grouped themselves into three horizontal lines facing the west region. They attacked the U.S. military as they got their sight. The Americans find it tough to maintain the formations. After a few musket fire rounds, Wayne got his mounted dragons out of the fallen trees and his infantry made a bayonet charge into Indian lines. As a result of it, northwest warriors retreated quickly from the location. They tried hard to press the flanks but Wayne’s men were very much disciplined to turn the urging enemy. 

As the Indian soldiers moved from the battlefield, The U.S. forces chase them down. In less than an hour, a vast rout ensued, and the battle was over. Surviving Northwest soldiers reach the Fort Miami begged British to help them while the British Garrison Commander refused to prevent any further war with Americans. Losing every possible support from the British and devastated in the hands of the American military, Northwest Indian Confederation warriors scattered all along the region. 

CASUALTIES & AFTERMATH

The United States legion emerged with around 140 casualties while Northwest Indians got more damage with few of the warriors injured, killed and run away, including those who contributed to the leadership at a greater extent. Since Wayne got to know that Fort Miami British Companions were not supporting the Indian allies, he ordered his men to surround and torch the nearby crops and villages to find the warriors. The devastation served as a brutal and painful lesson to the entire group of confederation member tribes.

 

FOREWORD

As the end of the war established may fruitful lessons for both Northwest Indians and the U.S. military, the U.S. government, reached an agreement with the British by the end of 1794. The goal of the deal was to the evacuation of Fort Miami and the entire unlawful forts covering the whole coast of Northwest Territory. 

In 1795, most of the Northwest Indian Confederation and the charging authority of the U.S. signed the Treaty of Greenville to establish the Northwest Territory as the exclusive property of the U.S. along with the soil, resources, and lands and effectively ended the hostilities. However, several tribal chiefs refused to sign the treaty while their obstinacy haunted the U.S. security back in the 19th century. 

 

Bibliography

"Battle Of Fallen Timbers - Ohio History Central". Ohiohistorycentral.Org, 2019,

"Battle Of Fallen Timbers". HISTORY, 2019, https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/battle-of-fallen-timbers.

"Northwest Indian War: Battle Of Fallen Timbers". Thoughtco, 2019, https://www.thoughtco.com/northwest-indian-war-battle-of-fallen-timbers-2360787.

Army, The, and The Army. "The Battle Of Fallen Timbers, 20 August 1794 - The Campaign For The National Museum Of The United States Army". The Campaign For The National Museum Of The United States Army, 2019, https://armyhistory.org/the-battle-of-fallen-timbers-20-august-1794/.

 

Author Bio

Elaine Vanessa

 

Elaine Vanessa is doing masters in ancient history and is a professional writer. She loves to explore historical civilizations. She often blogs at King Essay.