Battle of Fallen Timbers: Background
Although the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), ceded control of the Northwest Territory (the land northwest of the Ohio River) to the United States, the British failed to abandon their forts in the region and continued to support their Indian allies in skirmishes with American settlers.
Prior to the Battle of Timbers, two earlier American military expeditions into the Northwest Territory by generals Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair in 1790 and 1791, respectively, failed to end the unrest. In fact, St. Clair’s effort at the Battle of the Wabash concluded with an Indian victory and heavy U.S. troop losses. In 1792, President George Washington (1732-99) appointed General Anthony Wayne commander of the Legion of the United States, a new professional army.
During the Revolutionary War, Wayne, a Pennsylvania native, had earned the moniker “Mad Anthony” for his bold and successful storming of a British fort at the Battle of Stony Point, New York, in 1779. Much of Wayne’s subsequent career involved divesting Native Americans of their land. After helping lead the Americans to victory at the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, the last major conflict of the Revolutionary War, Wayne traveled to Georgia, where he negotiated treaties with the Creeks and Cherokees. They paid dearly in land for their decision to side with the British during the Revolutionary War, and Georgia officials paid Wayne in land, giving him a large plantation, for his efforts on their behalf.
Battle of Fallen Timbers: August 20, 1794
At the Battle of Fallen Timbers, on August 20, 1794, Wayne led American troops to a decisive victory against a confederation of Native Americans whose leaders included Chief Little Turtle (Miami), Chief Blue Jacket (Shawnee) and Chief Buckongahelas (Lenape). The fighting took place on the Maumee River, near present-day Toledo.
With the Treaty of Greenville, signed in present-day Greenville, Ohio, in August 1795, the Indians ceded much of present-day Ohio, which, in 1803, became America’s 17th state. By the terms of the treaty, the Indians also ceded parts of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.