Ft. Miamis

Rendering of Fort Miamis in 1794
*Image Courtesy of Metroparks Toledo

The British built Fort Miamis in spring 1794 to defend against a feared attack on Britain’s Fort Detroit by U.S. General Anthony Wayne and encourage the confederated tribes in their war of resistance. (The British wished to remain on good terms with the Native Americans in this region so Britian could continue to benefit from the prosperous fur trade.)

The log stockade structure featured bastions at the four corners, each of which could accommodate four mounted cannons. The fort also contained a river battery, barracks, officer’s quarters, supply buildings, and various shops. A 24-foot-deep defensive trench marked the perimeter on the land side of the fort.

Fort Miamis was a formidable structure, but Wayne had no intention of attacking Fort Detroit at that time.

Click through the virtual tour below to learn more about the fort as it existed and see what the site looks like today.

ft. miamis & the battle of fallen timbers

Following their defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Native forces fled to Fort Miamis, only to be shut out by English commander Major William Campbell, who didn’t want to start a war with the United States. This refusal to provide refuge to the confederated forces severely damaged British relations with the Native Americans.

On August 21, 1794 — the day after the battle — Wayne followed the Natives to Fort Miamis and ordered the British to surrender. They refused. The next day, Wayne approached the fort alone, circling the perimeter within pistol range and taunting the soldiers on the other side of the walls. Native forces watching from the nearby woods were amazed by the American General’s act of defiance and the unwillingness of the British forces to engage. It was then they realized the futility of their resistance and retreated to Swan Creek.

A year after their defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, tribal elders gathered at Fort Greenville for negotiations with General Wayne, resulting in the Treaty of Greenville that opened most of the present state of Ohio and part of Indiana to United States settlement.

In 1796, under the terms of the Jay Treaty (1794), the British abandoned Fort Miamis and their other forts on American Soil. Wayne occupied and garrisoned it, but it was abandoned by 1799.

Ft. Miamis & the War of 1812

Though the fort had fallen into ruin, the site was reoccupied by British and Native forces that besieged Fort Meigs in the spring of 1813.

Under the command of General Green Clay, about 1,200 new recruits from the Kentucky Militia arrived at Fort Meigs. The fort’s commander, General William Henry Harrison, gave instructions to Clay to send a detachment of 800 troops to launch a surprise attack on the British batteries.

Led by Colonel William Dudley, this detachment successfully spiked the British cannons. Instead of returning to the safety of Fort Meigs as planned, the new recruits, emboldened by their success, pursued some Native Americans into the forest. Dudley and his officers tried to stop the wayward troops, but their efforts failed and they found themselves lured into a trap and counterattack by British and Native forces.

In the area where the Maumee library now stands, Dudley’s forces were trounced in battle. Dudley and more than 200 of his troops were killed. Another 350 were captured and taken to Fort Miamis where they were forced to run a gauntlet until Shawnee Chief Tecumseh arrived and convinced the warriors to stop the killing.

Dudley’s Massacre, also known as Dudley’s Defeat, was a loss for the U.S. military, the successful destruction of the British cannon helped convince the British soldiers to lift their siege of Fort Meigs. The American Indians persuaded their British allies to attack the fort again in July 1813, but once again, the U.S. defenders were victorious.

These successful defenses of Fort Meigs marked the beginning of the end for the British in the Northwest Territory.

In October 1813, Harrison defeated British and Native forces led by Tecumseh and General Henry Procter at the Battle of the Thames in Canada, which ended British occupation in much of the Northwest and ended Tecumseh’s confederation as well.