Kuron: Honoring the fallen at Fallen TimbersWritten by Frank Kuron | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is that mall named Fallen Timbers? That road, the Anthony Wayne Trail? That river, the Ottawa? Time’s up! More than 200 years ago the Battle of Fallen Timbers occurred on that site, and Anthony Wayne led the Americans against the Ottawa and other Indian tribes who lived here.
When the American Revolution ended in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River were ceded by Britain to the new United States. The territory north of the Ohio River, which had been considered the Native Americans’, was now claimed by the United States, despite Indian representation being absent at those treaty talks. As American settlers flooded into the area, the Indians objected and began to resist.
Within its first year, the United States assembled a military unit. This force would undergo a series of name changes, originating as The First American Regiment, and still serving today as the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.
The result of its first mission in 1790 is told in its historical title – Harmar’s Defeat. Likewise, the following year’s mission is recorded as St. Clair’s Defeat. Both came at the hands of Indians in our region and due in part to our poor training.
The victories invigorated the Indians, and President Washington realized he needed a highly-skilled military to secure the frontier. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, already a Revolutionary War hero, was called upon to train a new set of volunteers in the art of military warfare. One of the many stories of how Wayne received his “mad” moniker comes from his primary enemy, Little Turtle, chief of the Miami, who deemed him “mad” after witnessing him repeatedly waking up his troops in the middle of the night to drill during their long trek from Cincinnati to the site of the Fallen Timbers battle.
On Aug. 20, 1794, on the land stretching from the Fallen Timbers Mall to St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, the Legion of the United States, as it was now known, clashed with eight tribes and a unit of Canadian militia known as Caldwell’s Rangers. Like Wayne’s force, the Essex/Kent Scottish Regiment of the Canadian Army traces its roots to this event, which was the first time Canadians ever fought on U.S. soil. The American Army, with a three-to-one advantage, and now highly-trained men, handily won their country’s first land battle.
Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket felt that the mass of fallen trees, blown down earlier by one of our notorious Northwest Ohio storms, would provide a natural barricade to Wayne’s advancing troops. Likewise, this spot was only a few miles from their British friends in Fort Miamis (on River Road). In due course, when defeat appeared inevitable, the Indians retreated to Fort Miamis seeking protection, but were denied. The British couldn’t enter into a new war with the U.S. The Indians were pursued north as far as the mouth of Swan Creek, where Wayne built the last of his long series of forts stretching all the way back to Cincinnati. This one was named Fort Industry and survived several years as a supply depot.
This victory was a big deal. A year later at Wayne’s fort in Greenville, Ohio, representatives of numerous tribes signed a treaty which ceded three-quarters of what became Ohio to the Americans in exchange for monies and supplies. Indian resistance was thus tempered for a few years until one Indian, who refused to sign such a treaty, resurrected the Indian confederacy effort. His name was Tecumseh, but that’s another tale.
One story goes that the men in Wayne’s legion stitched buff color trim onto their uniforms and wore black plumes in their hats. On today’s overcoat, the “buff strap,” a black strip with buff-colored stitches, distinguishes one as a 3rd U.S. Infantryman.
This “Old Guard,” as it is affectionately known today, is the face of the United States military. These men personify our pride, precision, and patriotism. When you view military escorts to the president, foreign dignitaries or fallen soldiers; national military parades; or funeral services at Arlington cemetery, including that lone guardsman at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you are witnessing the Old Guard whose pride was born along our Maumee River more than 200 years ago.
Frank Kuron is author of the War of 1812 book, “Thus Fell Tecumseh.” Email him at email@example.com.