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St. Clair's Defeat

St. Clair's Defeat, Nov. 4, 1791. "To protect settlers and to force the Indians to abide by the Treaty of Fort Harmar, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, ordered the construction of forts in what is now western Ohio," says an Ohio Historical Society web site.

"St. Clair moved against the Indians living near present-day Fort Wayne, Ind. [Kekionga] in September 1791. His men left Fort Washington, near Cincinnati, on Sept. 17. The men marched 20 miles in two days and then built Fort Hamilton. St. Clair's army then advanced 45 five miles northward, where his men built Fort Jefferson. Leading primarily untrained militiamen, St. Clair faced problems with desertion from the beginning of his campaign. Although it was still early fall, his men faced some cold temperatures and quite a bit of rain and snowfall. St. Clair also had a difficult time keeping his soldiers supplied with food. His men became demoralized. Despite this problem, St. Clair advanced against the Miami Indians Oct. 24. By Nov. 3, his men had arrived on the banks of the Wabash River, near some of the Miami villages." 

The OHS account says: "Little Turtle led his warriors against the Americans on the morning of Nov. 4, 1791. . . . After three hours of fighting, much of it hand-to-hand combat, the remaining Americans fought through the Indians and joined the militiamen in retreating. The survivors reached Fort Jefferson late that afternoon and evening. With limited quantities of food and supplies at Fort Jefferson, St. Clair ordered his forces to Fort Washington. The Indians had soundly defeated St. Clair's army." "President George Washington demanded that St. Clair resign from the army. St. Clair did so April 7, 1792. He, however, remained governor of the Northwest Territory and still faced problems with the natives. In 1794, Washington dispatched Anthony Wayne to succeed where St. Clair had failed. He would defeat the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794. Most natives in modern-day Ohio signed the Treaty of Greenville Aug. 3, 1795, relinquishing all of their land holdings in Ohio except the northwestern corner. St. Clair's Defeat was one of the worst defeats in history for the United States Army at the hands of Native Americans. (See Miami Purchase, Cincinnati, Fort Washington, Harmar's defeat, Fort Hamilton, Fort Recovery, Kekionga, Fallen Timbers and Treaty of Greenville.)


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