Battle of Fallen Timbers

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File:Battle of Fallen Timbers.jpg
"Charge of the Dragoons at Fallen Timbers," painted by R.T. Zogbaum, ca. 1895. The painting illustrates General Anthony Wayne's campaign against the Ohio Indians in 1794.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers was an important victory for the United States Army against natives in the Northwest Territory.

In 1792, President George Washington appointed Anthony Wayne as the commander of the United States Army of the Northwest, then currently serving in the Northwest Territory. The major purpose of this army was to defend American settlers from Indian attack. Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair had both suffered defeat at the hands of Native Americans in the previous few years, and Washington hoped that Wayne would be more successful. Wayne arrived with additional troops to supplement the Army of the Northwest in May 1793. He positioned his force at Fort Washington, near Cincinnati. Wayne repeatedly drilled his troops, hoping to avoid the horrific defeats that befell Harmar and St. Clair. In October, Wayne finally left the Cincinnati area and headed to Fort Jefferson. He proceeded six miles to the north of Fort Jefferson and ordered the construction of Fort Greene Ville. His army remained here for the winter of 1793-1794. He also had his men build Fort Recovery on the site of St. Clair's Defeat.

Tensions escalated between the Americans and the Indians during the summer of 1794. On June 30, 1,500 Shawnee Indians, Miami Indians, Delaware Indians, Ottawa Indians, and Ojibwa Indians led by Little Turtle attacked a supply train leaving Fort Recovery for Fort Greene Ville, killing or capturing many of the white Americans. In late July, Wayne moved into northwestern Ohio. In early August, he ordered his men to construct Fort Defiance to protect his army as well as to serve as a supply depot. During this time, Wayne's men also destroyed native villages and crops. Believing that the Indians needed to sue for peace, Little Turtle, a leader of the Miami Indians refused to lead the tribes into battle and deferred to Blue Jacket, a Shawnee leader.

As Wayne moved toward the Maumee River, the Indians prepared to attack him in an area known as Fallen Timbers. It was a place where a tornado had knocked down many trees. The Indians expected the Americans to arrive on August 19, but the white soldiers did not arrive until the next day. The natives fasted before the battle for spiritual and cultural reasons and to avoid having food in their stomachs. The likelihood of infection increased if a person was wounded in the stomach and there was food in it. By August 20, the natives were weak from hunger.

Although the Indians used the fallen trees for cover, Wayne's men quickly drove the Indians from the battlefield. The Americans had thirty-three men killed and roughly one hundred wounded, while the Indians lost approximately twice that number. The fight became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Blue Jacket's followers retreated to Fort Miamis, hoping the English would provide them with protection and assistance against Wayne's army. The English refused. Wayne followed the natives to the fort. Upon his arrival, Wayne ordered the British to evacuate the Northwest Territory. The English commander refused. Rather than force the issue, Wayne decided to withdraw to Fort Greene Ville.

For the next year, Wayne stayed at Fort Greene Ville, negotiating a treaty with the Indians. The natives realized that they were at a serious disadvantage with the Americans, especially because of England's refusal to support the Indians. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greeneville was signed. Representatives from the Miami Indians, the Wyandot Indians, the Shawnee Indians, the Delaware Indians, and several other tribes agreed to move to the northwestern part of what is now the State of Ohio. Not all Indians concurred with the treaty, and bloodshed continued to dominate the region for the next twenty years as Americans and Indians struggled for control.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.