Battle of Fallen Timbers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the American Civil War action on April 8, 1862, see Battle of Shiloh.
Battle of Fallen Timbers
Part of the Northwest Indian War
Fallen timbers.jpg
An 1896 depiction of the battle from Harper's Magazine.
Date August 20, 1794
Location in present-day Maumee, Ohio near present-day Toledo, Ohio
Result Decisive American victory
Belligerents
 United States Western Confederacy
Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
United States Anthony Wayne Kingdom of Great Britain Alexander McKillop
Blue Jacket
Buckongahelas
Strength
3,000 1,500
Casualties and losses
33 killed
100 wounded
19–40 killed[1]

The Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20, 1794) was the final battle of the Northwest Indian War, a struggle between American Indian tribes affiliated with the Western Confederacy, including minor support from the British, against the United States for control of the Northwest Territory (an area bounded on the south by the Ohio River, on the west by the Mississippi River, and on the northeast by the Great Lakes). The battle, which was a decisive victory for the United States, ended major hostilities in the region until Tecumseh's War and the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.

Background[edit]

The Ohio River boundary line established with Britain by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 recognized certain lands as belonging to the Native American nations. After the American Revolution, however, the United States maintained that the Indian nations no longer owned the lands in the Ohio area, citing an article in the Treaty of Paris of 1783 in which Britain agreed to cede the lands owned by indigenous nations. Native Americans rejected the notion that the British or Americans could dispose of their tribal lands without their consent. They said they did not have a representative at the Treaty negotiations, did not sign the treaty, and did not recognize its giving away rights to their lands. As American settlers began moving into the Ohio Country in increasing numbers, the Indians viewed them as unwanted intruders. The United States government insisted that it had the right to seize the lands, which had been conquered in battle and agreed to by the Treaty of Paris.[2][3]

The Western Confederacy, an alliance of Native American nations, was formed to fight to retain their traditional lands. It achieved several victories over United States military forces in 1790 and 1791, alarming the administration of President George Washington. Washington realized that the settlers were to blame for much of the violence; nevertheless, he made preparations to defeat the alliance as the battles became more serious. In 1792, Washington ordered Revolutionary War hero General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to build and lead a new army to crush resistance to American settlement.[4] Wayne could see that previous campaigns had failed because of poor training and discipline. He had time to train his volunteers, since peace negotiations were undertaken in the summer of 1793.

Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket and Delaware (Lenape) leader Buckongahelas, encouraged by their previous victories and the hope of continued British support, argued for a return to the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768. They rejected the subsequent treaties, which they had never been consulted on, that ceded the land north of the Ohio River to the United States. A faction led by the influential Mohawk leader Joseph Brant attempted to negotiate a compromise, but Blue Jacket would accept nothing less than an Ohio River boundary, which the United States refused to concede. The American government thus fought a war over the possession of the Ohio area Indian land under the direction of Secretary of War Henry Knox.

Battle[edit]

Site of Fort Miami

Wayne's new army, the Legion of the United States, marched north from Fort Washington in Cincinnati in 1793, building a line of forts along the way. Wayne commanded about 2,000 men, with Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians serving as his scouts.[5]

Blue Jacket took a defensive position along the Maumee River, not far from present-day Toledo, Ohio, where a stand of trees (the "fallen timbers") had been blown down by a recent storm. They thought the trees would slow the advance of Wayne's Legion. Fort Miami, a nearby British outpost on American soil, had supplied the Indian confederacy with provisions. The Indian forces, numbering about 1,500, were composed of Blue Jacket's Shawnees, Buckongahelas's Delawares, Miamis led by Little Turtle, Wyandots, Ojibwas, Ottawas, Potawatomis, Mingos, and a company of Canadian militiamen under Captain Alexander McKillop.

The battle was over quickly. Wayne's men closed and pressed the attack with a bayonet charge. His cavalry outflanked Blue Jacket's Indians, who were routed. The Indians fled towards Fort Miami, but they found gates closed against them. The fort's commander, Major William Campbell, the British commander of Fort Miami, refused to open the fort to his Indian allies, unwilling to start a war with the United States, and Wayne's force won a decisive victory. Wayne's army spent several days destroying the Indian villages and crops in the area, then retreated. Wayne's army had lost 33 men and 100 were wounded. They claimed to have found 30 dead. Matters came to a head in the early 1790s, in the conflict known as Little Turtle's War (1790–1794). As more white settlers flooded into the area following its partition under the Land Ordinance of 1785, the Native Americans were forced westward. The Miami commander, Michikinikwa (Little Turtle), led a confederation of tribes against U.S. expeditions led by General Josiah Harmar in 1790 and General Arthur St. Clair in 1791, defeating them both. Both Harmar's and St. Clair's armies consisted largely of untrained militia, frontiersmen with guns but little discipline, who often broke ranks and fled when confronted by Native American warriors.

In late August 1794, Little Turtle and his Shawnee ally, Weyapiersenwah (Blue Jacket), faced a new U.S. Army, including a core of nearly 5,000 professionals trained and led by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Wayne had spent the better part of two years training and disciplining his troops. On June 30, 1794, Wayne's army drove off a Native American attack from Fort Recovery, the site of St. Clair's defeat three years before. By August 20, his force confronted the Native Americans outside modern Maumee, Ohio. A tornado had recently knocked down many of the trees in the area, and about 2,000 Native Americans used them as cover to attack Wayne's group of 900 (thus the name Fallen Timbers). Within a few hours, however, Wayne's army rallied and drove the Indians from their cover, killing about 200 and forcing the others to seek refuge at Fort Miami. Official American casualties numbered 107 dead.

The battle of Fallen Timbers had ramifications that stretched all the way to Europe. News of the American victory helped negotiator John Jay secure a treaty with the British that promised British withdrawal from the frontier forts—securing the area for the Americans. The Treaty of Greenville, negotiated between Wayne and Little Turtle the following year, secured most of what is now Ohio for American settlement. The victory calmed the fears of frontiersmen about Indian raids and secured the area's allegiance to the United States. From a long-term perspective, the battle of Fallen Timbers secured American access to the western Great Lakes and the western Ohio River valley, giving farmers in the area access to international markets for their produce.

Aftermath[edit]

The defeat of the Indians led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which ceded much of present-day Ohio to the United States. Before withdrawing from the area, Wayne began the construction of a line of forts along the Maumee River, from its mouth at present-day Toledo, Ohio to its origins in present-day Indiana. After Wayne had returned to his home in western Pennsylvania, the last of these forts was named Fort Wayne in his honor. Its location is the site of the present-day Indiana city. Behind this line of forts, white settlers moved into the Ohio country, leading to the admission of the state of Ohio in 1803. Tecumseh, a young Shawnee veteran of Fallen Timbers who did not sign the Greenville Treaty, would renew American Indian resistance in the years ahead.

Legacy[edit]

On September 14, 1929, the United States Post Office issued a stamp commemorating the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The post office issued a series of stamps referred to as the 'Two Cent Reds' by collectors, issued to commemorate the 150th Anniversaries of the many events that occurred during the American Revolution and to honor those who were there.

Fallen Timbers Monument[edit]

Lines of trees at the battlefield park

The Ohio Historical Society maintains a small park near the battle site that feature of the Battle of Fallen Timbers Monument, honoring Major General Anthony Wayne and his army and Little Turtle and his warriors. Additionally, there are plaques describing the Battle of Fallen Timbers and honoring the several Indian tribes that participated there. The main monument has tributes inscribed on each of its four sides honoring in turn, Wayne, the fallen white settlers, Little Turtle and his brave Indian warriors. The park is located near Maumee in Lucas County.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Gaff, Allan D. Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northwest. University of Oklahoma Press, May 2004. ISBN 0-8061-3585-9, ISBN 978-0-8061-3585-4.
  • Sudgen, John. Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
  • Sword, Wiley. President Washington's Indian War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1790–1795. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.
  • Winkler, John F. Fallen Timbers, 1794: The U.S. Army’s First Victory (Osprey, 2013). 96 pp

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°32′39″N 83°41′51″W / 41.54417°N 83.69750°W / 41.54417; -83.69750