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On this date, August 20 . . .
1758: Post’s First Mission to the Western Delawares, (continued).
~~~ (see August 12). On August 20th, Christian Frederick Post, accompanied by twenty-five horsemen and fifteen footmen, travels to Sauconk at the mouth of the Beaver. Here he is not well received, being surrounded by Indians with drawn knives. Finally, when Post recognizes a few of the Indians and starts talking with them, their manner suddenly changes. Post goes from here to Logstown, at which place he will arrive on the evening of August 23d.
1781: Colonel Lochry’s Expedition (continued) : On August 20th, two of Captain Shannon’s men (see August 16 & 17) are picked up from the southern shore. They inform Colonel Lochry that Shannon’s men have been attacked by Indians on the Kentucky side of the river below the mouth of the Scioto. These two half-starved soldiers are the only survivors, a third soldier having been fatally wounded by stepping on his hunting knife while fleeing through the brush. Unhappily Captain Shannon was carrying a letter to General Clark, revealing the weakness and distressed condition of Lochry’s men. This letter fell into the hands of the Indians, who have been watching Lochry’s flotilla ever since it left Wheeling.
1794: The Battle of Fallen Timbers:
~~~ Prelude. The uprising of the Western Indians and the raids upon the Western Pennsylvania frontier continuing, and after the disgrace of Harmar’s and St. Clair’s defeats, there was a loud call loudly for a third expedition against the western tribes. President Washington chose General Wayne, “Mad Anthony,” the hero of Stony Point, to lead the expedition. When informed by Washington of his selection, Wayne is said to have replied: “I am the very man you want.” Wayne was a strict disciplinarian, and determined to avoid the faults which brought overwhelming and inglorious defeat upon his predecessors. He arrived in Pittsburgh in June, 1792, having been furnished with instructions from Washington in which it was stated that ” . . . another defeat would be irredeemably ruinous to the reputation of the Government.” His force was to consist of five thousand men, carefully drilled, and to be called “The Legion of the United States.” At Pittsburgh, Wayne erected Fort Fayette, where the Western National Bank now stands.
~~~ In December, 1792, Wayne’s legion was taken to the beautiful plain overlooking the Ohio, about twenty miles below Pittsburgh, where sham battles were fought and daily drills held. The place of this winter camp is known as Legionville to this day. While here, he was visited by the old Indian chiefs, Guyasuta and Cornplanter, then friends of the United States.
~~~ Breaking camp late in April, 1793, Wayne led his forces to Fort Washington (Cincinnati), where they were reinforced by regulars and mounted militia from Kentucky. It was so late in the season before all his forces were collected and supplies procured, that the offensive movement was delayed until the next spring. Late in the year, he moved to a new camp. Fort Greenville, in Darke County, Ohio, six miles north of Fort Jefferson.
~~~ During the winter, Wayne remained at Fort Greenville, swept the country between this place and the Miami villages, and took possession of the ground upon which St. Clair was defeated, erecting a fort there which he called Fort Recovery. Another detachment later marched to the scene of General Harmar’s defeat, and erected Fort Wayne, named in honor of the commander of the Legion, His force now consisted of thirty-six hundred troops.
~~~ In the meantime, in the spring of 1793, commissioners representing the United States met the western tribes in council, and proposed that, in consideration of the lands ceded by the treaty at Fort Harmar, the United States should pay the Indians “a large sum of money, or goods, besides a full yearly supply of such articles as they needed.” The chiefs replied that money was of no value to them. Said they: “You talk to us about concessions. It appears strange that you should expect any from us, who have only been defending our just rights against your invasions. We want peace. Restore to us our country, and we shall be enemies no longer.”
~~~ During the summer of 1794, Fort Recovery was garrisoned by a small detachment under Captain Gibson. On June 29th, Major William McMahon arrived at Fort Recovery with ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons. The next morning the fort was assailed by a large force of Indians and British and Detroit militia. They were repulsed with great slaughter. They renewed the attack the following morning, and were again repulsed. Then they retreated from the same field where St. Clair’s army had gone down to crushing defeat. The exact number of the Indian and British losses was never learned; but when the enemy returned to the British post, Fort Miami, they said that no man ever fought better than they did at Fort Recovery, and that they lost twice as many as at St. Clair’s defeat. One hundred and forty-two Americans were killed in the two attacks on Fort Recovery.
~~~~ However, the repulse of the Indian and British forces of more than fifteen hundred, showed the mettle of the Legion of the United States.
~~~ On July 26th, 1794, Wayne was joined at Fort Greenville by General Charles Scott, with sixteen hundred mounted volunteers from Kentucky. He then moved forward, skirmishing with bands of lurking Indians as he advanced. He marched with open files, to insure rapidity in forming a line or in extending the flanks, and drilled his men to load while marching. He always halted in the middle of the afternoon, encamping in a hollow square and surrounding his camp with a rampart of logs. Arriving at the site of the present village of Defiance, Ohio, the confluence of the Anglaize and Maumee Rivers, Wayne erected Fort Defiance, and made proposals of peace to the Indians. These were rejected contrary to the advice of Little Turtle, and in accordance with the advice of Blue Jacket. Said Little Turtle: “We have beaten the enemy twice under separate commanders. We cannot expect the same good fortune always to attend us. The Americans are now led by a chief who never sleeps. The night and day are alike to him, and during all the time that he has been marching upon our villages, notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men, we have never been able to surprise him.” Indeed, so stealthy had been Wayne’s advance that the Indians nicknamed him “the Blacksnake.”
On August 18th, Wayne continued his march and, now, on the morning of August 20th he has proceeded about five miles, to a point several miles south of the present town of Maumee, in Lucas County, Ohio, when his advance guard is heavily fired upon by Indians in concealment, and falls back. He forms his men into two lines where a tornado had blown down a number of trees in the woods -— a circumstance which will give the engagement the name of the “Battle of the Fallen Timbers”” The fallen trees make cavalry operations difficult, and afford a shelter for the two thousand Indians and Canadians who are posted among them in two lines.
~~~ Wayne’s militia charges impetuously with the bayonet, leaping over the logs and delivering a well-directed fire, while General Scott with his mounted volunteers, turns the right flank of the enemy by a circuitous movement, and Colonel Campbell, with his legionary cavalry, turns the enemy’s left flank. The Indians are driven at the point of the bayonet for more than two miles through the forest, and decisively beaten. Nine Wyandot chiefs lay dead on the field.
~~~ Blue Jacket, Little Turtle, Buckongahelas, Simon Girty, Alexander McKee and Matthew Elliott have lead the Indian forces in this battle.
~~~ Wayne, in his official report, states that the woods were strewn with the bodies of the Indians and their white allies, and that the latter were armed with British muskets. The Americans have lost thirty-three killed and one hundred wounded. The Indians have been driven under the guns of the British fort (Fort Miami) in the neighborhood, and so strong is the resentment of Wayne’s men against the English, that it is only with difficulty that they can be restrained from storming the fort. Indeed, many of the Kentucky troops advance within gunshot of the fort and hurl a volley of curses against the garrison. However, the gates of the fort are closed against the Indians. Captain Campbell, the British commandant, sends a message to Wayne, complaining of this insult and demanding by what authority Wayne’s troops have trespassed upon the precincts of the British garrison. Mad Anthony replies in terms little less polite than those of the Kentucky troops, informing Captain Campbell that his only chance of safety is silence and civility.
~~~ The day after the battle (Aug 21) General Wayne will ride up to the British
Fort Miami and cooly inspect the works while the British hold matches ready at their cannon. Then Wayne’s troops destroy the Indian cornfields, orchards, trading-houses, and stores. Soon after their crushing defeat, the various western tribes send delegations to General Wayne asking for peace. These are the Wyandots, the Shawnees, the Delawares, the Miamis, the Ojibwas, the Ottawas, the Potawatomies, the Weas, the Kickapoos, the Piankeshaws and the Kaskaskias.
~~~ In addition to breaking forever the power of the western tribes, one of the results of the Battle of the Fallen Timbers will be the surrender to the United States of Niagara, Detroit, Mackinac, Miami, and other posts hitherto held by the British, from which bases they had assisted and encouraged the Indians in their hostility against the Americans.
~~~ The significance of The Battle of Fallen Timbers to the American settlers in western Pennsylvania and Virginia, including the Pricketts and others along the Monongahela, is that from this time onward, the Indian threat was effectively at an end.
Sipe, C. Hale. THE INDIAN WARS OF PENNSYLVANIA. (Telegraph Press, 1929).
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