August 20, 1794 Fallen Timbers, Maumee River
All attempts at peace have failed. General Anthony Wayne had used Captain William Wells (Apekonit), Little Turtles own son-in-law, to attempt a negotiation. Wells had been in charge of the company of scouts working with Wayne’s army. Thus, on the morning of August 20, 1794, General Wayne moved his forces out of Fort Deposit, and advanced down the left side of the Maumee River. He had an army of three thousand men, to include Dragoons, artillery, regular infantry, and a mounted militia. Waiting for him were the warriors of the Western Confederacy, numbering around 1500, plus a company of British Canadian rangers under Captain William Caldwell. (Butler’s Rangers). Under the direction of British Indian Agent and notorious Loyalist, Alexander McKee, the tribes had chosen to make a stand where trees had been uprooted from a storm, providing a perfect breastworks to shoot from. The place – Fallen Timbers. For three days prior to this, the warriors had been fasting in preparation for battle. As it had begun raining on this morning, a number of the warriors retreated to their town to break their fast and eat. Now the already far outnumbered Native Americans were even weakened more by the several hundred warriors who left. But Little Turtle of the Miami, Blue Jacket of the Shawnee, and Buckangehelas of the Delaware stood firm and ready. Blue Jacket had planned an ambush. Around 8:00 o’clock the attack began. Wayne had placed the mounted militia at the head of the column, and they were fired upon by the Odawas under Egushawa, and the Pottawatomie under Little Otter. The militia scattered and fled. Now Captain John Cook’s detachment of regulars opened fire, and soon they found themselves fleeing the scene. But Wayne saw what was happening, and he sent in two light infantry companies who started to engage hand-to-hand with warriors carrying knives and tomahawks. While this was happening, Wayne got his artillery in position and opened fire with grape shot. This ended Blue Jacket’s ambush. The war chiefs Egushawa and Little Otter were badly wounded, and another chief, Turkey Foot was killed. Despite the efforts of the three Tories – McKee, Girty, and Elliott – to rally the Western Confederacy warriors, the loss of these chiefs and the sheer numbers of soldiers and artillery of Wayne’s army overwhelmed them. Now, in open country, the Dragoons were unleashing hell on the warriors on foot. They retreated to Fort Miami where Major Campbell, the British commander refused to open the gates. He would not do anything that would provoke a war with the Americans. The Native warriors moved on to Swan Creek. Now feeling betrayed by their closest ally, the warriors refused to be rallied further. It was over. The losses were not great on either side , around 33 Americans and 40 Western Confederacy warriors killed, but the blow to the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory was fatal.
“My God, it’s over. They are fleeing before our dragoons. When they first struck at our militia, in which I was one of the lead riders, I thought is was the end of all of us. That first volley hit us hard, and it came out of nowhere. Everyone started screaming and running. Then I seen Captain Cook and his regulars, Damn, they were actually taking some shots at us because we was runnin’ away. Weren’t long though, before they was running away right with us. But our general, no wonder they call him ‘Mad Anthony’, came up with men and artillery, right up into the center of things. That was it for them heathens. A couple of blasts of grape shot sent them a runnin’. I see it takes a huge, well armed, well supplied, professional force to beat these warriors, and it’s finally been done. I damn sure hope this is the end of it. I just want to go home to my wife and children. I’m tired.”
Jacob Palmer – settler/militiaman