The Siege of Fort Recovery, 30 June – 1 July 1794, was a battle of the Northwest Indian War, fought at the present-day village of Fort Recovery, Ohio. A large force of warriors in the Western Confederacy attacked a fort held by United States soldiers deep in Ohio Country. The United States suffered heavy losses, but maintained control of the fort. The battle exposed a division in the Western Confederacy's military strategy at a time when they seemed to hold the advantage, and the United States pressed farther into the Northwest Territory.
At the end of the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded control to the United States the territories northwest of the Ohio River and south of the Great Lakes. The United States wanted to capitalize on the lands to pay debts, but the Western Confederacy of Native American nations united to maintain the border with the United States at the Ohio River. This initiated the Northwest Indian War. In St. Clair's Defeat of 1791, United States forces were decisively defeated by a combined army of Delaware, Miami, and Shawnee warriors. In response, the nascent United States created a large professional army, called the Legion of the United States. The Legion's commander, Major General Anthony Wayne, ordered construction of a series of forts to secure supply route north of Fort Washington. He deliberately ordered Fort Recovery to be built on the grounds of St. Clair's 1791 defeat. 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. 252 By June 1794, Fort Recovery had been reinforced by a detachment of 250 soldiers, and the Legion had recovered four copper cannons (two six-pound and two three-pound), two copper howitzers, and one iron carronade from St. Clair's defeat in 1791. :234:
That same month, a large gathering of the Western Confederacy departed their encampments on the Auglaize River. 318 They were acting on news that the British could soon be at war with the United States, :315 and Blue Jacket took the opportunity to secure the support of British agents and traders in the region. Blue Jacket was convinced that another decisive battle would secure a final victory in the war, and he gained support from the Shawnee, Odawa, Potawatomi, Lenape, and Ojibwe. :318-9 The Miami war chief Little Turtle did not want to engage the Legion without artillery, and dissuaded most of the Miami from joining this expedition. Blue Jacket did not intend to strike Fort Recovery specifically, using scouts to locate the best opportunity. By 25 June, the combined force had encamped within 20 miles of Fort Recovery, and moved towards the fort in a mass formation that was so large that the warriors outnumbered the available firearms. :318-9 This army hunted as it traveled, using up available ammunition along the way. :319:
Reconnaissance patrols were sent to find the locations of United States forces. On 27 June, a scout detachment of Odawas and Ojibwe met a U.S. detachment of Choctaws and rangers from the Legion. CPT Bobb Sallad of the rangers was killed, while the rest escaped. They arrived at Fort Greenville the next day and reported a "great force" of Native Americans advancing with "a great number of white men." 241 Wayne received a follow-up report that a large hostile force was about to attack the Legion's supply lines, and that Fort Recovery had only three days of provisions.:
On 28 June, the confederation force encamped along the road between Fort Recovery and Fort Greenville. Here a debate arose on their next move. Blue Jacket wanted to attack the Legion's road south of Fort Greenville, cutting off supplies and reinforcements to the Legion's forts. Reconnaissance had noted movement near Fort Recovery, however, and the majority argued that it would be easier to attack the fort at the farthest reaches of the supply line. 319-20 According to William Wells, the head of the Legion's reconnaissance companies, the entire Native American army was placed under the nominal command of an Odawa called Bear Chief, perhaps due to the large numbers of northern tribes who had journeyed south to join the campaign. :387.fn.25 An estimated 1,200 warriors of the confederacy encamped just south of Fort Recovery and prepared an ambush. :320:
Early on 30 June, a company of Choctaws and Chickasaws under CPT James Underwood arrived at Fort Recovery. Although none of them could speak English, they were able to communicate a large enemy presence and many shots fired. 273 CPT Gibson sent a reconnaissance patrol around Fort Recovery, but finding nothing abnormal, the fort resumed normal operations and the farm animals were released to graze freely. :243:
Later that morning, a supply column left Fort Recovery for Fort Greenville, while the security detail finished breakfast at the fort. 320 The column had gone about a quarter mile when a small party of confederate warriors :241 attacked the supply column and drove them back to the fort, while the rest of the army remained in position. At the sounds of gunfire and fleeing herd animals, the Legion quickly sent a reaction force of dragoons along the road and riflemen in the woods. The main body of the confederate force waiting until the dragoons were at close range, then fired a mass volley which killed several of the dragoons and horses, including the officer in charge, Major William McMahon. :321 :275 The riflemen under Captain Asa Hartshorn were flanked by small parties and cut off from the fort, then attacked by the main body. An injured Hartshorn was confronted by Thomas McKee, who demanded his surrender. CPT Hartshorn swung his pike at McKee and was quickly killed by McKee's slave and a Native American warrior. :321:
CPT Gibson sent a detachment under LT Drake to cover the retreat to the fort. They advanced to the edge of the forest with bayonets and momentarily slowed the confederacy's advance, but were soon forced to retreat. LT Drake had to be dragged back to the fort after being shot. 245:
The Legion's dragoons cut a retreat back to the fort, losing thirty-two killed (including Cornet Daniel Torrey) and thirty wounded, while inflicting an unknown number of casualties on their attackers. Some of the dragoons took shelter at a detached blockhouse by a stream, but most were forced to retreat again to the main fort. 245 Many confederate warriors tried to capture the horses during the dragoon's retreat. :245 The blockhouse itself remained under Corporal White and 6 privates, who may have killed more confederate warriors than the rest of the Legion inside the main fort. :246 The Native Americans captured or scattered several hundred pack horses used for supply convoys. The Native Americans had only suffered 3 killed in the coordinated ambush, :276 but Odawa and Ojibwa forces attacked the fort directly. A party of British officers under CPT Matthew Elliott argued against the attack, since they had already inflicted great damage on the Legion but had little chance of success against the fort. :246 The attack was quickly neutralized by defenders from within the safety of the fort, including infantry, dragoons, and Chickasaw scouts. :242–250 CPT Gibson also brought up the recovered artillery to defend the fort. The cannons did not seem to have a significant direct effect on the confederate force, but caused some warriors to flee. :247 They refused to retreat, however, keeping the fort closed while a British artillery crew searched for the cannon's buried after St. Clair's defeat in 1791. :247 Blue Jacket had no choice but to support the futile attack, which lasted until nightfall. :322:
The Chickasaw and Choctaw scouts managed to get behind the confederate line and shot some Ojibwe and Odawa warriors in the back. This spawned accusations by the northern nations that they had been fired upon by rival Shawnee. 247-8 The scouts also observed a crowd of commanders, which included at least three British officers in red uniforms, a large number of white men, and Simon Girty. :247 One officer, Captain Jean Baptiste Beaubien, :53 was seen near the wood line just out of musket range. A Chickasaw rifleman finally shot him with a double charge of powder; he was carried into the forest but later died. :247:
Inflicting few casualties while taking on many, the confederacy decided to retire to the forest. That night, they attempted a surprise attack on the fort. It lasted nearly two hours, but accomplished little. 248 Shots continued through the night, as soldiers from within the fort fired upon Native Americans who were gathering their dead and wounded. :248-9 During the night, a scouting company under Captain William Wells reported that there were British officers behind the Indian lines, and that they had brought powder and cannonballs, but no cannons. They were looking for U.S. cannons that had been buried after St. Clair's defeat, not knowing that these had already been recovered by the Legion of the United States. 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." :276:
The next day, 1 July, some among the confederate forces attacked the fort again, but they began to withdraw by noon, and they were gone by nightfall. 108–110:
On 2 July, the CPT Gibson sent burial details. They were fired on by a few remaining Native Americans, but the two sides did little more than exchange angry words from a distance. 250-1 CPT Gibson counted 35 dead, 43 wounded, 20 captured or missing. In addition, 46 horses were killed and 9 wounded, while the confederacy captured 204 horses and 30 cattle. :250 Wayne sent an emergency resupply train to the fort, fearful that the confederacy may regroup. :251 Wayne finally arrived at Fort Recovery a month later, calling the garrison the "bravest boys in the world." :253:
Estimates of confederate casualties varied significantly, from 17 in earlier reports to an inflated number of 130 in later reports. William Wells concluded over the years that between 40-50 had died, and nearly 100 wounded, some of whom later died. 252 The leaders of the Western Confederacy were sharply divided after the battle. The Odawa accused Blue Jacket of cowardice for not fully supporting the direct assault on Fort Recovery. Blue Jacket was angry that his plan to attack Fort Greenville was rejected, and that the Odawa had directly attacked Fort Recovery after their initial success. :323 The Odawa and Ojibwa departed for their homes to bury their dead, determined that they had done their part for the Confederacy. :249:
British MAJ William Campbell, commandant of Fort Miami, requested reinforcements when he received word of the battle. Governor John Graves Simcoe received the report and wrote on 10 July "I conceive war inevitable." 53 Little Turtle identified Wayne as a "black snake who never sleeps,", and insisted that the British provide 20 soldiers and 2 cannons for a renewed attack on Fort Recovery. When the commandant of Detroit, COL Richard England declined to promise this support, Little Turtle warned him that they could not continue to resist Wayne's Legion. :278-9:
Because the fort remained secure, Wayne's army was able to advance north and extend the line of forts. Fort Defiance was built in August, and became the Legion's main staging ground before it met and defeated a combined force under Blue Jacket at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The following year, representatives from the Western Confederacy and the United States met to negotiate the Treaty of Greenville. This treaty ceded most of the modern state of Ohio to the United States, and used Fort Recovery as a landmark to draw the boundary with Native American lands.
Tecumseh was among the Shawnee at Fort Recovery. He would later fight at Fallen Timbers and would form a new pan-tribal confederation in 1808. 108:
Little Turtle was a Sagamore (chief) of the Miami people, who became one of the most famous Native American military leaders. Historian Wiley Sword calls him "perhaps the most capable Indian leader then in the Old Northwest," although he later signed several treaties ceding land, which caused him to lose his leader status during the battles which became a prelude to the War of 1812. In the 1790s, Mihšihkinaahkwa led a confederation of native warriors to several major victories against U.S. forces in the Northwest Indian Wars, sometimes called "Little Turtle's War", particularly St. Clair's Defeat in 1791, wherein the confederation defeated General Arthur St. Clair, who lost 900 men in the most decisive loss by the U.S. Army against Native American forces.
Blue Jacket or Weyapiersenwah was a war chief of the Shawnee people, known for his militant defense of Shawnee lands in the Ohio Country. Perhaps the pre-eminent American Indian leader in the Northwest Indian War, in which a pantribal confederacy fought several battles with the nascent United States, he was an important predecessor of the famous Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
Fort Recovery is a village in Mercer County, Ohio, United States. The population was 1,430 at the 2010 census. The village is near the location of Fort Recovery, first established in 1793 under orders from General Anthony Wayne. The town is located near the headwaters of the Wabash River.
The Battle of Fallen Timbers was the final battle of the Northwest Indian War, a struggle between Native American tribes affiliated with the Western Confederacy and their British allies, against the nascent United States for control of the Northwest Territory. The battle took place amid trees toppled by a tornado near the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio at the site of the present-day city of Maumee, Ohio. Major General "Mad Anthony" Wayne's Legion of the United States, supported by General Charles Scott's Kentucky Militia, were victorious against a combined Native American force of Shawnee under Blue Jacket, Ottawas under Egushawa, and many others. The battle was brief, lasting little more than one hour, but it scattered the confederated Native forces and shattered their trust in their British allies. The U.S. victory ended major hostilities in the region. The following Treaty of Greenville and Jay's Treaty mandated Indian withdrawal from most of modern-day Ohio, opening it to native displacement and white settlement, along with termination of the British presence from the southern Great Lakes region of the United States.
The Treaty of Greenville, formally titled Treaty with the Wyandots, etc., was a 1795 treaty between the United States and Indians of the Northwest Territory including the Wyandot and Delaware, which redefined the boundary between Indian lands and Whiteman's lands in the Northwest Territory.
Tecumseh's War or Tecumseh's Rebellion was a conflict between the United States and an American Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh in the Indiana Territory. Although the war is often considered to have climaxed with William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Tecumseh's War essentially continued into the War of 1812, and is frequently considered a part of that larger struggle. The war lasted for two more years, until the fall of 1813, when Tecumseh, as well as his second-in-command, Roundhead, died fighting Harrison's Army of the Northwest at the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada, near present-day Chatham, Ontario, and his confederacy disintegrated. Tecumseh's War is viewed by some academic historians as being the final conflict of a longer term military struggle for control of the Great Lakes region of North America, encompassing a number of wars over several generations, referred to as the Sixty Years' War.
The Shawnee are an Algonquian-speaking ethnic group indigenous to North America. In colonial times they were a semi-migratory Native American nation, primarily inhabiting areas of the Ohio Valley, extending from what became Ohio and Kentucky eastward to West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Western Maryland; south to Alabama and South Carolina; and westward to Indiana, and Illinois.
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. The United States Army considers it their first of the United States Indian Wars.
Buckongahelas was a regionally and nationally renowned Lenape chief, councilor and warrior. He was active from the days of the French and Indian War through the Northwest Indian Wars, after the United States achieved independence and settlers encroached on territory beyond the Appalachian Mountains and Ohio River. He became involved in the Western Confederacy of mostly Algonquian-speaking peoples, who were seeking to repel American settlers. The chief led his Lenape band from present-day Delaware westward, eventually to the White River area of present-day Muncie, Indiana. One of the most powerful war chiefs on the White River, Buckongahelas was respected by the Americans as a chief, although he did not have the position to do political negotiations.
William Wells, also known as Apekonit, was the son-in-law of Chief Little Turtle of the Miami. He fought for the Miami in the Northwest Indian War. During the course of that war, he became a United States Army officer, and also served in the War of 1812.
Fort Recovery was a United States Army fort ordered built by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne during what is now termed the Northwest Indian War. Constructed from late 1793 and completed in March 1794, the fort was built along the Wabash River, within two miles of what became the Ohio state border with Indiana. A detachment of Wayne's Legion of the United States held off an attack from combined Indian forces on June 30, 1794. The fort was used as a reference in drawing treaty lines for the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, and for later settlement. The fort was abandoned in 1796.
The Legion of the United States was a reorganization and extension of the Continental Army from 1792 to 1796 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne. It represented a political shift in the new United States, which had recently adopted the United States Constitution. The new Congressional and Executive branches authorized a standing army composed of professional soldiers, rather than relying on state militias.
Fort Miami (Miamis) was a British fort built in spring 1794 on the Maumee River in what was at the time territory of the United States, and designated by the federal government as the Northwest Territory. The fort was located at the eastern edge of present-day Maumee, Ohio, southwest of Toledo. The British built the fort to forestall a putative assault on Fort Detroit by Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne's army, then advancing northward in southwestern Ohio
The Western Confederacy, or Western Indian Confederacy, was a loose confederacy of Native Americans in the Great Lakes region of the United States following the American Revolutionary War. The confederacy was also sometimes known as the Miami Confederacy, as many federal officials at the time knew of the size of Kekionga and overestimated the influence and numerical strength of the Miami tribe within the confederation. The confederacy, which had its roots in pan-tribal movements dating to the 1740s, came together in an attempt to resist the expansion of the United States, and the encroachment of American settlers, into the Northwest Territory after Great Britain ceded the region to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The resistance resulted in the Northwest Indian War (1785–1795), which ended with an American military victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
The Harmar campaign was an attempt by the United States, in the fall of 1790, to subdue Native Americans in the Northwest Territory who were seeking to expel American settlers they saw as interlopers in their territory.
Native Americans in the American Civil War participated as individuals, bands, tribes, and nations in numerous skirmishes and battles. Native Americans served in both the Union and Confederate military during the American Civil War. They were found in the Eastern, Western, and Trans-Mississippi Theaters. At the outbreak of the war, for example, most Cherokees sided with the Union, but they soon allied with the Confederacy. Native Americans fought knowing they might jeopardize their sovereignty, unique cultures, and ancestral lands if they ended up on the losing side of the Civil War. 28,693 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, participating in battles such as Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg.
The Cherokee people of the southeastern United States, and later Oklahoma and surrounding areas, have a long military history. Since European contact, Cherokee military activity has been documented in European records. Cherokee tribes and bands had a number of conflicts during the 18th century with European colonizing forces, primarily the English. The Eastern Band and Cherokees from the Indian Territory fought in the American Civil War, with bands allying with the Union or the Confederacy. Because many Cherokees allied with the Confederacy, the United States government required a new treaty with the nation after the war. Cherokees have also served in the United States military during the 20th and 21st centuries.
St. Clair's defeat, also known as the Battle of the Wabash, the Battle of Wabash River or the Battle of a Thousand Slain, was a battle fought on November 4, 1791, in the Northwest Territory of the United States of America. The U.S. Army faced the Western Confederacy of Native Americans, as part of the Northwest Indian War. It was "the most decisive defeat in the history of the American military," and the largest victory ever won by Native Americans over it.
Fort Jefferson was a fortification erected by soldiers of the United States Army in Oct. 1791 during the Northwest Indian War. Built to support a military campaign, it saw several years of active fighting. Today, the fort site is a historic site.
Fort St. Clair was a fort built during the Northwest Indian War near the modern town of Eaton, Preble County, Ohio. The site of the fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.