Battle of Kenapacomaqua

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Battle of Kenapacomaqua
Part of Northwest Indian War
DateAugust 7, 1791
LocationCass County, Indiana, United States
Result U.S. Victory
Wea Tribe  United States
Commanders and leaders
unknown James Wilkinson
60 warriors 525 militia
Casualties and losses
9 killed
34 captured
2 killed
1 wounded

The Battle of Kenapacomaqua, also called the Battle of Old Town,[1] was a raid in 1791 by United States forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General) James Wilkinson on the Miami (Wea) town of Kenapacomaqua on the Eel River, approximately six miles upstream from present-day Logansport, Indiana.[2][3]

Background and Battle[edit]

James Wilkinson

In 1791, Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair readied an Army to attack Kekionga in response to Harmar's Defeat in 1790. He intended to dispatch a separate force simultaneously to distract the defending Native American coalition.[4] Delays in preparations caused St. Clair to initiate Wilkinson's raid prior to the main body's advance, however.[5]

Lieutenant Colonel Wilkinson had served under Brigadier General Charles Scott during the Blackberry Campaign of 1791, in which mounted Kentucky militia raided Native American villages along the Wabash River and its tributaries. Wilkinson's force of more than 500 Kentucky militia departed Fort Washington on 1 August 1791.[6] They arrived at Kenapacomaqua on 7 August 1791, and immediately attacked.

Two Kentuckians and nine Miami died in the encounter. By Wilkinson's own account, the Miami dead included only six warriors.[7] Two of the dead were women. One was a child. Thirty-four Miami prisoners were taken prisoner, including a daughter of Miami war chief Little Turtle.[8] In addition, one U.S. captive was found at Kenapacomaqua and released. Wilkinson next burned grain stored at the deserted town of Ouiatenon before returning to Kentucky via the route established by Scott earlier that year.[9]


General St. Clair and President George Washington were both pleased with Wilkinson's raid. As a reward, Wilkinson was given command of the Second United States Regiment.[9] Wilkinson's success, however, is credited to circumstances unknown to him during his raid. At the time of his attack, Native American leaders in the Northwest Territory were at a grand council called by British Indian agent Alexander McKee.[9] Other coalition leaders were travelling to Quebec to request a new British fort at Miami Rapids for their mutual defense.[10] About 60 men from L'Anguille were gone on a reconnaissance mission, while others were at Vincennes, Indiana to acquire provisions.[10] Of the Wea left at L'Anguille, many suffered from an unknown disease outbreak in the region.[9]

At the Quebec council, meanwhile, Governor Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester urged peace, and the American Indian council departed with terms to present to the United States. When the council arrived at Fort Detroit, however, they received news of Wilkinson's raid and St. Clair's advance. The entire council immediately departed to defend Kekionga,[4] which ended on 4 November 1791 with St. Clair's Defeat.


  1. ^ The action had no official name. Wilkinson's account of the operation refers to the town both by its Miami name (which means "Eel River Town") and its French name, "L'Anguille." "Old Town" or "Olde Towne" was a name given the town by later Anglo-American settlers.
  2. ^ Powell, 125-126
  3. ^ Barce, 188-194
  4. ^ a b Sword, 159
  5. ^ Sword, 155
  6. ^ Ward, 116
  7. ^ Wilkinson's account of the expedition is found at Indiana University, Glenn Black Laboratory, American State Papers, Indian Affairs, March 3, 1789 to March 3, 1815, vol. 1, p. 134. Archived June 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Another account is found in James Handasyd Perkins and John Mason Peck, Annals of the West (1857) pp. 569-570.
  8. ^ "Little Turtle (1752 - July 1812)". The Supreme Court of Ohio & The Ohio Judicial System. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Sword, 156
  10. ^ a b Sword, 158


See also[edit]

External links[edit]