Historic Fort Wayne: The Great American Outpost.

"The Americans are now led by a Chief who never sleeps"-Chief Little Turtle speaking of General Anthony Wayne.

A replica of Whistler's Fort located on Spy Run Avenue near downtown. This was the design of the third and final fort located at the present day site of Firehouse 1.

The Story of Fort Wayne.

The Miamitown Menace

After Pontiac's uprising of 1763, the old French and British Fort laid empty. The loose confederation of tribes that emerged in the three rivers area came to be known as Miamitown, or Kekionga to the Indians. Made up mostly of Indians and a few French and British fur traders, the village was held together by the resentment of encroaching American settlers. As settlers began moving westward the Indian warriors from Miamitown began attacking American homestead and towns as far east as Pennslyvania. These attacks were led by two prominent warrior chiefs by the name of Blue Jacket of the Shawnee and Little Turtle of the Miami. Many Americans were ambushed and killed during these Indian raids. Under pressure from the military, land speculators and the settlers, President George Washington had to remove the threat of Miamitown forever.

The Defeat of General Josiah Harmar

President Washington appointed General Josiah Harmar to lead the United States army to move on Miamitown and head off any future attacks. The destruction of Miamitown, the heart of the Indian resistance, would be necessary to protect the current and future interests of the United States. General Harmar assembled his troops at Fort Washington (Cincinnati) with a total of 1400 men. His roster included 320 officers and men of the regular army and more than 1000 men from the Kentucky and Pennsylvania militias. Harmar and his men traveled North to surprise the Indians at Miamitown. Indian scouts warned Little Turtle of the impending attack so the indian chief ordered all inhabitants to leave the village. When the General arrived he ordered the town be burned and sent Kentucky Colonel John Hardin and part of the army to find Blue Jacket and Little Turtle in the Eel River area. Hardin fell into an ambush and his men were nearly all killed. Meanwhile, General Harmar had left Miamitown and taken up positon to the South along Nine-Mile Creek. After hearing of Hardin's defeat, Harmar ordered the troops to return to Miamitown and attack any returning warriors. The attack was led by Army Major John P. Wyllys and was to trap the Indians between the St Joseph and Maumee rivers. Harmar under-estimated the strength of the Miami warriors, and was soundly defeated when his troops tried to cross the Maumee River near Miamitown. It was said that Harmar's Army left a trail of blood all the way back to Fort Washington. General Josiah Harmar was tried for incompetence, but was acquitted.

The Defeat of General Arthur St. Clair.

Miamitown had survived, and a major blow had been handed to the American Army. President George Washington was not giving up. Miamitown had to be destroyed. He called on a man by the name of Arthur St. Clair to head up the charge. St. Clair's unruley army marched out of Fort Washington and headed north in 1791. They only made it as far as the Wabash River before they were ambushed by Chief Little Turtle and his warriors. The leader of the Miami Nation had once again destroyed the Americans in what was to become known as the worst defeat of the Army by these indian tribes. In retrospect, General St. Clair had mentioned that a string of forts along the trail to Miamitown would give the troops needed protection and allow for storage of supplies. St. Clair's idea would play a great part in the successes to come.

The Successes of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne.

Washington was not going to let this "frontier terrorism" continue. He called on an old revolutionary war hero by the name of Anthony Wayne to lead new attacks at Miamitown and the Ohio Territories. General Wayne was a brave commander who led his troops into decisive battles during the Revolutionary War. One in particular, the storming of a british garrison at Stoney Point, New York, won him the title of "Mad" Anthony Wayne.

After much preparation at Fort Washington, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne led his troops north toward the Miamitown Village. Acting upon General St. Clairs ideas, Wayne and his men built a series of forts along the Miami River to protect his advance route and supplies. While building Fort Recovery, an Indian attack led by Shawnee warrior Blue Jacket gave General Wayne his first victory. The protection of the Fort meant everything. The seige of Fort Recovery was broken, and the Indians retreated north. The Americans holding Fort Recovery broke the "back" of the Indian Confederation. Many warriors returned to their own surrounding villages and did not defend Miamitown. The leadership of Little Turtle that proved victorous in earlier campaigns began to wane. Blue Jacket of the Shawnee took over as the War Chief marking a major change in leadership.

Wayne and his men pursued the remaining warriors to the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize Rivers in present day Defiance, Ohio. The Americans proceeded to build Fort Defiance to reinforce yet another area of hostile territory. The Fort was given its name in "defiance" to the Indian Attacks that had slaughtered so many American soldiers in years past. On August 20, 1794 after replenishing their supplies, General Wayne and his men caught up with Blue Jacket at Fallen Timbers just southwest of present day Toledo. The Americans managed to drive the forces of Blue Jacket back across the Maumee River where they scattered into the woods. The Americans won what was to be the most decisive battle in the struggle against the Indians. The Miamitown Confederation was all but destroyed, and Wayne's actions set the stage for an Indian compromise later to be known as the Treaty of Greenville.

A Fort named in General Wayne's Honor.

After the Battle of Fallen Timbers Wayne and his men followed the Maumee River toward Kekionga or Miamitown. In September 1794 Wayne entered Kekionga and ordered a fort to be built on a hill facing the confluence of the St. Mary, St.Joseph, and Maumee Rivers. Construction began hastily with his soldiers put to work cutting and shaping timbers. On October 21, 1794 Wayne and his men entered the partially finished fort. The command of the fort was immediately turned over to a man by the name of Colonel John Hamtramck. Wayne headed south toward a newly completed fort to oversee the Treaty of greenville. The next morning acting on General Wayne's direct orders, Hamtramck had his men fire fifteen cannon rounds, and formally announced that this fort be named Fort Wayne. Thus, the town of Fort Wayne was born.

The First Two Forts.

The first Fort was very basic in design. Only the stockade walls and a few building were constructed. General Wayne wanted his men protected from the backlash of burning the nearby villages. This lack of preparation lead to great suffering during the first winter at the fort. Colonel Hamtramck's men were hungry,cold, and the limitations of the fort were manifesting themselves. A more permanent stronghold was needed to reinforce the three rivers area.

By 1798 the Fort was under the comand of Colonel Thomas Hunt. Colonel Hamtramck by this time was given the command of Fort Detroit. Colonel Hunt started the construction of the second fort just a few hundred yards north of the old one. While not finished until 1800, the new fort was pendagon shape with 2 guard houses on either side of the entrance and one main guard house in the rear. All the buildings were inside the stockade walls and not attached to them. (This configuration would change with the design of the last fort.)After the Treaty of Greenville relations with the nearby indians improved. "factories" were set up for trading with the indians. An indian-raised American by the name of William Wells was put in charge of running these trade centers. Wiliam Wells married Little Turtle's daughter as Wells had been raised with the Miami tribe and became very close to Little Turtle growing up. As a result of this coorperation, the outpost of Fort Wayne started to grow as trading attracted many indians and fur merchants to the area. However, this cooperation was to be short lived. A man by the name of William Henry Harrison was appointed Governor of the territory. Harrison, through a series of treaties, was taking more and more land away from the indians. Little Turtle signed many of these treaties in hopes his cooperation would continue to ease the building tensions between the Americans and his people.

To the west, Tecumseh and his brother the Phophet were not as content. Chief Tecumseh was resentful of the Americans taking their land and was willing to fight for it. He stated that Little Turtle was too sympathtic towards the Americans and should fight for their ancestors lands. As a result, Tecumseh gained power and pulled more tribes to his side. What was building would change northwest territory and Fort Wayne forever.

The War of 1812 and the seige of Fort Wayne.

The tensions between the Indians and the Americans worsened. The Battle of Tippecanoe marked the beginning of bloodshed led by Chief Tecumseh. Influenced by the British, the Potawotami were on the warpath. William Wells was given orders to bring back reinforcements from Fort Dearborn in hopes of strengthing Fort Wayne. It was on his return that Wells and his wagon train including the Dearborn soldiers were ambushed and killed. Honoring Wells Miami heritage, his heart was eaten on the spot. All hopes of strengthing Fort Wayne was lost. As Fort Detroit and Dearborn fell the Indians began attacking all American Forts on the frontier. At Fort Wayne Indians began to gather outside the Fort. The commander of the fort, Captain James Rhea began worrying about the threat of a seige and began drinking heavily. This became so much of a problem that two Lieutenants Curtis and Ostrander became alarmed. Captain Rhea had allowed two Indian delegations into the Fort hoping for a peaceful solution. What Rhea was really asking for was his safety in return for the forts surrender. The Commander was so incapitated by his drinking and thought of surrender, that the two Lieutenants took charge of the Fort. The Fort was under seige from Indian gunfire. This was Fort Waynes most desprite hour. The homes and buildings around the fort were burned to the ground. The Indians under Chief Winamac tried to attack the Fort from the east, setting fires to the woods in hopes of driving the garrison out. The garrison of approximately 100 men fought galantly until reinforcements could arrive. On Sepember 12 1812, William Henry Harrison's troops arrived. The seige was lifted and the fight moved to the north around Fort Detroit. Lieutenant Ostander was given command of the Fort as Captain Rhea was relieved of command. The War of 1812 ended with the American victory at the Battle of Ontario. Fort Wayne would never again be seiged or experience a battle..

Whistler's Fort.

The Fort was handed over to the man who had helped in design of the two previous forts, Major John Whistler. When Whistler arrived he saw a Fort in total disrepair. The seige of 1812 had taken its toll and repairs were needed. The new Fort completed in 1816 became the blueprint for forts built farther west. It is also the style of fort represented in Headwaters Park today.

With the Treaty of St. Mary's in present day Ohio the lands once protected by Fort Wayne were solely in American hands. The garrison at Fort Wayne was no longer needed. So on April 19, 1819 the Fort was offically abandoned. All supplies including heavy equipment and cannons were loaded on canoes at Pirogues landing and sent north to Fort Detroit. The settlement of Fort Wayne was left to the civilians who would leave their legecies for years to come. Future projects such as the Wabash-Erie canal would lead Fort Wayne into a great economic expansion. It would become a "town of great importance".

General Comments

I chose the 1812 Overture on the main theme page for a reason. The War of 1812 was a pivoting point for the development of Fort Wayne. Had the seige of the Fort not been lifted, this city could have had a very different outcome. With the help of the British, the Potawotami would have secured the three rivers area for the Indians and the campaigns of General Anthony Wayne would have been in vain. Moreover, the Americans would have lost a very strategic area to the British which could have hindered the Americans from winning at the Battle of Ontario thus effecting the outcome of the War.

The Great Miami Chief Little Turtle

Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Nation had great influence over the land surrounding Fort Wayne. Little Turtle was know as a great compromiser when it came to US-Miami relations. He profited from this relationship and gain great power both socially and financially. How did this peaceful co-existence begin?

It wasn't until the Battle of Fort Recovery (Ohio) led by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Treaty of Greenville that Chief Little Turtle reluctantly changed his views on American expansion. It was Little Turtle who tried to hold the Peace in a time when his people were urging war. For this reason, I give a tribute to Chief Little Turtle, The Peacekeeper.

What remains of the old fort?

The ground of the original site is located at the corner of Berry and Clay streets in downtown Fort Wayne. The Fort was moved approximately five-hundred yards to the north shortly before the War of 1812. Little remains of both Forts except for a few markers and an old stone well.

Picture courtesy of Allen County Library.

The map above illustrates the location of all three American Forts.

This rock marks the location of the original Fort at the intersection of Berry and Clay Streets.

This old stone well marks the approximate location of the second and third Fort. It was reconstructed from the original well found nearby.

This picture shows the layout of the second American Fort. The second Fort, built by Colonel Hunt, was moved approximately 300 yards from the first location. This is the Fort that survived the Seige of 1812. Courtesy, Allen County Public Library.

This marker shows where the "Pirouges" or dugout canoes would dock to bring supplies and visitors to and from the Fort. This is the location where the final supplies were loaded up after the garrison was abandoned in 1819. The marker is behind Don Hall's Gas House restaurant.

The marker points out the path to Fort Dearborn (present day Chicago). It was along this path south of Fort Dearborn where William Wells was killed attempting to bring more troops back to Fort Wayne in 1812. This marker is located on the property of the Y.M.C.A off of Wells Street.

A Tribute to Chief Little Turtle

The location of Miamitown where both French Traders and Indians lived together was located in the area between Spy Run Avenue and the St. Joesph River. This picture taken above is near the center of where Miamitown would have existed 250 years ago.

A statue of Little Turtle stands in Headwaters Park.

A memorial to Little Turtle near his grave.

The grave of Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Nation.

The Greenville Peace Pipe was presented to the Shawnee Indians at the 2nd Treaty of Greenville on July 8th 1814. This pipe was a symbol of the acceptance of terms set forth by the Treaty.

Picture courtesy of the Kanas City Museum.
Plain text version.

Maumee-Wabash Portage: The Glorious Gate.

Fort Miamis: The First European Settlers
Wabash and Erie Canal:The Great Waterway.
Johnny Appleseed: The Pioneer Spirit
The American Civil War: Fort Wayne's Soldiers.
Arrival Of Locomotives:The Canal's Demise.
The Rise of Industry: Fort Wayne's Revolution.
The Management of Progress:The Prewar Years.
The War to End All Wars: Patriotism and Fervor.
The Promise of Hope: The Depression Years.
Great Strides in Industry: World War II.
High School Proms & Cherry Sodas: The Fifties.
The Coming of Age: Fort Wayne in the Sixties.
The Rebirth of Fort Wayne History: The Seventies.
A new Sense of Direction & Growth: The Eighties.
The Bicentennial of Fort Wayne: 200 Years of Prosperity.
The Year 2000: Reflections and Great Expectations.
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Last updated 01/18/2003

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