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Two re-enactors portray members of Wayne's Legion, 1998
Two re-enactors portray members of Wayne's Legion during the 1998 filming of the video "The Battle of Fallen Timbers, The Battle for Fallen Timbers" Photo: Marilyn Witko Rosinski / Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Committee

Fallen Timbers Battlefield

The Battle of Fallen Timbers, fought on August 20, 1794, is among the most historic conflicts fought on American soil. Some historians say that only the Revolutionary War's Battle of Lexington, Virginia, and Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, outrank Fallen Timbers in significance. The Battle of Fallen Timbers climaxed a military campaign that pitted the U.S. army of America, then called the Legion of the United States, under the leadership of Major General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, against native tribes, led by Chief Little Turtle, the Miami warrior whose military and political skills forged the most successful and stable Native American army ever assembled to resist U.S. expansion.

The Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War, contained a little known tenant that allowed the British to remain in the Northwest Territory until the U.S. resolved the land issue with Native Americans who had been British allies. What may have been the strongest confederation of native tribes to ever stand against the U.S. consisted of Chippewa, Ottawa, Pottawatomi, Shawnee, Delaware, Mingo, and Wyandot tribes. Planning to ambush the U.S. soldiers, the Indians sought camouflage among a stand of trees that had been recently felled by a tornado, hence, the name, Battle of Fallen Timbers. Fighting was brief. Casualties totaled 50 killed and 100 wounded on each side. The U.S. army then marched along the Maumee River, destroying Indian villages and crops on both sides of the river. Natives who had lived there for hundreds of years were forced to leave their land.

The Indians signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which ensured more than a decade of uninterrupted U.S. western expansion. The Jay Treaty in 1796 officially forced the British troop withdrawal from Fort Miami, Detroit, Mackinac Island, Erie, Pennsylvania, and all other posts in the U.S. territory. If it had not been for the U.S. victory at Fallen Timbers, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and most of the Great Lakes ports might have been developed as Canadian cities.

In 1995, research by archeologist Dr. Michael Pratt identified the battlefield on property owned by the city of Toledo, rather than on another site where it had been believed to have taken place. In 1998, the re-identified site was threatened with plans for commercial development. A coalition of federal, state, and local interests rallied to halt this activity, headed by the Fallen Timbers Preservation Commission, and to make the site a national park. In 1999, the U.S. Congress passed a law making Falling Timber Battlefield a National Historic Site.

Project documentation includes an overview report, photos, and numerous materials describing the historic battle, and efforts to save the site as an American legacy. This includes newspaper and magazine articles, letters, brochures, flyers, the Pratt study, "The Archaeology of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield," an educational video documenting the battle to save the battleground, and Fallen Timbers battle re-enactments, its script, and issues of the Northwest Ohio Quarterly. The Fort Miami Elementary School students' campaign to make Fallen Timber Battlefield a National Historic Site is also documented with correspondence between students and their U.S. congressional representatives, newspaper coverage, a student study guide, and other materials.

Originally submitted by: Marcy Kaptur, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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