The Battle of Fallen Timbers was fought on August 20, 1794, and is famous for the decisive victory of the United States over a confederacy of Indian tribes. The eponymous location of the battle was an area full of trees toppled by a tornado, and was just to the north of the Maumee River.
Causes and Course
With the end of the American revolution, a treaty was signed, according to which Great Britain ceded the lands over the Appalachian Mountains as far west as the Mississippi River, to the new, independent United States.
In 1775, several Native American tribes came together in Ohio to form the Western Confederacy, and with the passage of time, they started conducting a series of raids in southern Ohio to discourage American settlement. To deal with this threat, General Josiah Harmar was appointed by George Washington to attack Shawnee and Miami lands. In October 1790, Harmar faced defeat after fighting two battles. The next setback for the American government was the defeat of the army under General Arthur St. Claire, who clashed with the Confederacy at the Battle of Wabash.
In 1792, Anthony Wayne was appointed as the commander of Army of the Northwest and sent to serve the Northwest Territory. Later, in May 1793, Wayne positioned his force at Fort Washington, near Cincinnati, and hoped to avoid the horrific defeats that were faced earlier by Harmar and St. Clair. He left the Cincinnati area in October the same year, and headed towards Fort Jefferson. He ordered the construction of Fort Greene Ville, six miles to the north of Fort Jefferson, and commanded his army to stay there for the winter of 1793-1794.
During the summer of 1794, tensions increased between the Americans and the Indians, which led 1,500 Miami Indians, Shawnee Indians, Ottawa Indians, and Ojibwa Indians to attach a supply train leaving Fort Recovery, headed for Fort Greene Ville. The troops were led by Little Turtle, and many white Americans were killed or captured in this attack. In early August the same year, Fort Defiance was constructed to protect the American army as well as serve as a supply depot. During the construction of the fort, Wayne's men also destroyed native villages and crops.
Finally, when Wayne decided to move towards the Maumee River, the Confederacy prepared to attack the army in an area known as Fallen Timbers, which was a place full of trees knocked down by a tornado. The Indians used fallen trees as a covering for themselves, but Wayne's men quickly drove them out of the battlefield.
The English, who also had a considerable army presence in the area, refused to help the Indians, but also declined the order of Wayne to evacuate the territory. Instead of forcing the English army for this issue, Wayne decided to withdraw to Fort Greene Ville.
Effects of the Battle
By the end of the battle, Wayne lost 33 of his men and 100 others were wounded. The death toll on the Confederacy side was almost double that of the American army. The victory of the US at Fallen Timbers led to the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which ended the conflict and removed all Confederacy claims to Ohio and the surrounding lands. Without this treaty, there was a possibility that portions of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin would have become a permanent buffer zone between the Indian and the settled territory, or even become part of British-controlled Canada.
Even after the defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the treaty of Greenville, the struggle to dominate the region continued for the next twenty years, causing bloodshed and tension in the Northwest territory.