Fallen Timbers, Battle of

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The battle of Fallen Timbers (1794) and the Treaty of Greenville (1795) that followed it marked the successful conclusion of a long struggle for control over the Ohio countrythe region between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Since the 1740s, the territory had been the site of numerous battles between Native Americans, French Canadians, and British and Colonial troops. Although the Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the fighting between England and the United States in the American Revolution (17751783), the struggle between the new country and its Native American neighbors continued. Despite the provisions of the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Ft. Stanwix (in which the Iroquois Confederacy relinquished its claim on the Ohio country to the United States), Great Britain still wanted the area. Great Britain had excluded its Indian allies from the treaty negotiations that ended the American Revolution. Some British politicians believed the Indians might continue the war on the frontier and bring the area back under British influence. The British built Fort Miami, near modern Toledo, Ohio, to help support the Native American effort in the Ohio country.

Matters came to a head in the early 1790s, in the conflict known as Little Turtle's War (17901794). As more white settlers flooded into the area following its partition under the Land Ordinance of 1785, the Native Americans were forced westward. The Miami commander, Michikinikwa (Little Turtle), led a confederation of tribes against U.S. expeditions led by General Josiah Harmar in 1790 and General Arthur St. Clair in 1791, defeating them both. Both Harmar's and St. Clair's armies consisted largely of untrained militia, frontiersmen with guns but little discipline, who often broke ranks and fled when confronted by Native American warriors.

In late August 1794, Little Turtle and his Shawnee ally, Weyapiersenwah (Blue Jacket), faced a new U.S. Army, including a core of nearly 5,000 professionals trained and led by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Wayne had spent the better part of two years training and disciplining his troops. On June 30, 1794, Wayne's army drove off a Native American attack from Fort Recovery, the site of St. Clair's defeat three years before. By August 20, his force confronted the Native Americans outside modern Maumee, Ohio. A tornado had recently knocked down many of the trees in the area, and about 2,000 Native Americans used them as cover to attack Wayne's group of 900 (thus the name Fallen Timbers). Within a few hours, however, Wayne's army rallied and drove the Indians from their cover, killing about 200 and forcing the others to seek refuge at Fort Miami. Official American casualties numbered 107 dead.

The battle of Fallen Timbers had ramifications that stretched all the way to Europe. News of the American victory helped negotiator John Jay secure a treaty with the British that promised British withdrawal from the frontier fortssecuring the area for the Americans. The Treaty of Greenville, negotiated between Wayne and Little Turtle the following year, secured most of what is now Ohio for American settlement. The victory calmed the fears of frontiersmen about Indian raids and secured the area's allegiance to the United States. From a long-term perspective, the battle of Fallen Timbers secured American access to the western Great Lakes and the western Ohio River valley, giving farmers in the area access to international markets for their produce.

See also: Land Ordinance of 1785, Ohio


Axelrod, Alan. Chronicle of the Indian Wars: From Colonial Times to Wounded Knee. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1993.

DeRegnaucourt, Tony. The Archaeology of Camp Stillwater: Wayne's March to Fallen Timbers, July 28, 1794. Arcanum, OH: Upper Miami Valley Archaeological Research Museum, 1995.

Knopf, Richard C., editor and transcriber. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975.

Nelson, Paul David. Anthony Wayne, Soldier of the Early Republic. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Slaughter, Thomas. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Fallen Timbers, Battle of

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By 1794, the northwestern Indian policy of the Washington administration was in crisis. Insisting upon the Ohio River as the southern boundary of their territory, Indians under the Miami chieftain Little Turtle routed expeditions led by Generals Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair in 1790 and 1791, respectively. With the credibility of his administration at stake, Washington selected Anthony Wayne to command a third and final strike against the Indians.

Having spent the better part of two years raising and training his Legion of the United States, Wayne faced a delicate situation as he began his advance in July 1794. Not only were the Indians determined to resist, but they were armed and encouraged by British officials who operated out of Detroit and other posts that were supposed to have been abandoned to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1783). Now, Wayne discovered that the British had recently rebuilt and garrisoned Fort Miami at the Maumee rapids, near present-day Toledo, a site that Wayne had targeted for his attack upon the Indians. To further complicate matters, John Jay was in London attempting to reach an agreement to avert the apparently inevitable war, resulting in Secretary of War Henry Knox's instructions to Wayne to avoid conflict with the British if at all possible.

On 20 August, Wayne's legion was attacked by the Miami Indians at a clearing called Fallen Timbers (because a tornado had uprooted many trees, leaving the wreckage scattered over the area), near Fort Miami. In a battle of only forty minutes, the legion launched a bayonet charge that dispersed the Indians in disorder. Though both sides suffered about 150 casualties, the confidence of the Indians was broken. Even more dispiriting was the refusal of the British to allow refuge to the fleeing Indians inside Fort Miami or to offer any resistance at all as Wayne destroyed the Indian fields surrounding the fort.

The British had built Fort Miami at the Maumee rapids, a strategically important site. Fearing the imminence of war with the United States, the British had used the fort as a base from which to arm the Indians and encourage attacks upon the frontier. They gave every indication that they would fulfill their promises to support the Indians against attack by United States forces. Circumstances changed this situation, however, just at the time of Wayne's advance. With John Jay in London and the prospects strong for a peaceful resolution to the diplomatic crisis, British officials ordered the detachment at Fort Miami to avoid military conflict unless directly attacked (similar orders had been given to Wayne by Secretary of War Henry Knox). Thus, despite their promises to the Indians and provocative actions on Wayne's part, the British refused any assistance to the defeated Indians.

With British credibility shaken, the Indians had little choice but to come to terms with Wayne. In the Treaty of Greenville of 3 August 1795, the Shawnee, Delaware, and Miami tribes ceded three-fourths of modern Ohio and northeastern Indiana to the United States. This treaty, along with the final evacuation of British posts in the Northwest, as mandated by Jay's Treaty (1794), opened that region, particularly Ohio, to a flood of American settlement.

See alsoAmerican Indians: American Indian Resistance to White Expansion; American Indians: Old Northwest; Northwest; Ohio; Treaty of Paris .


Gaff, Alan D. Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Nelson, Paul David. Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Daniel McDonough

Wayne, Fort

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WAYNE, FORT, located at the joining of the St. Marys and St. Joseph Rivers to form the Maumee River in northeastern Indiana, was an important trade center for the Miami Indians from the 1600s on; they called it Kekionga. The French developed this strategic site into a military post called Fort Miami as early as the late 1680s, and it was occupied briefly by the British in the 1760s. American forces under General Anthony Wayne established Fort Wayne under the command of Colonel John F. Hamtramck on 22 October 1794. The Fort Wayne Indian Factory, a public trading post established at the site in 1802, increased its importance as a center of commerce between Indian fur trappers and American traders. The Treaty of Fort Wayne, signed at the post on 30 September 1809 by the United States and several Indian tribes, ceded about 2.5 million acres of present-day southern Indiana and Illinois to the United States in exchange for goods and annuities. Combined British and Indian forces besieged Fort Wayne during the War of 1812, and fighting continued through late 1813; after the war, Fort Wayne was decommissioned on 19 April 1819. A trading post and grist mill were built later that year, and on 22 October 1823 the U.S. Land Office sold off the rest of the land around the fort.


Cayton, Andrew R. L. Frontier Indiana. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

Madison, James H. The Indiana Way: A State History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Rafert, Stewart. The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People, 1654–1994. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1996.

Timothy G.Borden

See alsoIndian Trade and Traders ; Indian Treaties ; Indiana ; Miami (Indians) ; War of 1812 .

Fallen Timbers, Battle of

views updated May 23 2018


FALLEN TIMBERS, BATTLE OF (20 August 1794). Frustrated by Indian raids and the slow progress of negotiations with the British, Gen. Anthony Wayne marched from Fort Greenville (in what is now Ohio)on 28 July 1794, to expel the British and their Indian allies from the Northwest Territory. In a two-hour battle on 20 August at the rapids of the Maumee River in northwest Ohio, just two miles from the British Fort Miami, Wayne's regulars and Kentucky militiamen routed nearly 800 Indians. To secure the territory, Wayne built a stronghold and named it, appropriately, Fort Defiance. This victory paved the way for white settlement in Ohio.


Nelson, Paul David. Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Sword, Wiley. President Washington's Indian War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1790–1795. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

Thomas RobsonHay/a. r.

See alsoFrontier Defense ; Jay's Treaty .

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Battle of Fallen Timbers 1794

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