British soldiers constructed Fort Miamis in 1794. British authorities feared that Anthony Wayne and his army planned to march against Fort Detroit, a major stronghold. Located fifty-five miles to the south of Detroit, Fort Miamis provided an additional obstacle to Wayne. Fort Miamis also afforded the British additional means to solidify Native American support against the white Americans moving into the Ohio Country. Following Britain's defeat in the American Revolution, the British promised in the Treaty of Paris (1783) to remove all of their soldiers from American soil. Although they had agreed to do this in the treaty, the British subsequently refused until the Americans honored their pledges in the treaty as well. Important among these was the promise to repay debts the United States owed to Britain.
Fort Miamis consisted of four diamond shape projections of earthen wall called bastions. The British dug a twenty-five foot deep trench around the fort and lined it with rows of stakes to slow an enemy's assault of the fort. The British also placed fourteen cannon in the fort to thwart any attackers.
Although Fort Miamis was quite formidable, it had little impact on Wayne's plans. His sole intention was to conquer Native Americans along the Maumee River. He had no intention to move against Detroit, at least not in 1794. The British also hoped to avoid a conflict with the Americans. While they built the fort to stop an American advance on Detroit, the British truly hoped to have good relations with the natives so that they could continue to prosper from the fur trade.
As Wayne marched against the natives in August 1794, the Native Americans pleaded for the British to assist them. The British refused. At the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, Wayne's army easily defeated the natives. The Native Americans fled to Fort Miamis for protection, but the British refused them entrance. Britain's refusal greatly harmed its relationship with the Native Americans.On August 21, Wayne followed the natives to Fort Miamis. There, he ordered the British to surrender immediately. The British garrison refused. Realizing the fort would be difficult to attack, Wayne retreated to Fort Defiance. The fort remained under British control until the end of the War of 1812. At that point, Britain finally fulfilled its treaty obligations from the American Revolution and removed all of its soldiers from the United States.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.