After the Revolutionary War, the frontier was Ohio. Crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky was crossing the threshold to the new land. The pull of the unknown territory was vast fertile terrain, ownership and possibilities for the new country of America to expand and gain power. But there were several nations of Indians who were not all for these plans.
"We had two major Indian battles. One was in 1791 and the other in 1794," says Helen LeFevre, president of the Ft. Recovery Historical Society.
What is now Fort Recovery is very near the Indiana border and right on the Wabash River. A reconstructed fort is here now.
"The Indians were fighting for control of the land so that they could live here peacefully and not have the white settlers coming in and claiming the land," says LeFevre.
The new president, George Washington, had sent commander Arthur St Clair here in 1791 to wrest control from the Indians. St Clair came here with a bit of a rag tag army, which was somewhat poorly supplied. Here he met Little Turtle with the Miami tribe and Blue Jacket with the Shawnee – plus many others who had joined forces in a tribal confederation.
The soldiers were about 1300 along with some women and children that were here," says LeFevre. "Indians, we never have had an exact number, but it was over 1000 that were here as well. And so they beat back the white man and their troops. It was a very decisive battle where the Americans were beat quite vigorously. And so word got back to President Washington and they had to rethink how they were going to handle it from here."
The defeat did not sit well with Washington – and Anthony Wayne was put in charge. Wayne was a “no nonsense” commander and he had a reputation for discipline and exuberance and punishment for not training to his standards. He was nicknamed “mad” Anthony Wayne although “No Nonsense” Anthony Wayne might have been more accurate.
"He sent a contingent out here to build Fort Recovery since this was the site for the battle, and they did that in December of 1793 Why is it called recovery? From what we understand, they wanted to recover the land that had been lost," says LeFevre.
The Indians lost the battle in 1794 but Blue Jacket made another stand against Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers near present day Toledo. Again a defeat for the Indians which then led to the treaty of Greenville. The Greenville treaty gave the United states all territories south and east of the line. The twelve Indian nations were given goods valued at $20,000 and a promise to deliver goods to them annually forever – you can see a point on the treaty line today at Ft Recovery.
You can download this audio tour explore it on your own. It’s Tour number 7. The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. This is the end of our Road Trip series - but the tours live on at SeeOhioFirst.org. There you can download eleven free tours of Ohio and travel whenever you want.
The New Ohio Guide is produced by the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.