Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Northern Early America
The site is located along River Road, two blocks south of U.S. Route 24, otherwise known as "The Anthony Wayne Parkway" in Maumee, Ohio.
Phone: (419) 897-7150
Email: [email protected]
As the first fortress built along the Maumee River, Fort Miamis played a role in both the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the War of 1812, both times under British control. Built by the British in April 1794, the fort was constructed of earth bastions surrounded by a 25-foot-deep moat lined with stakes. The British first constructed the fort in order to defend the British-held Detroit from American troops who might take advantage of access by the Maumee River. However, the fort was also built to demonstrate British support of the Indian Confederacy and the tribes' efforts to halt westward expansion by white settlers. By showing continued allegiance with Native Americans, the British also hoped to ensure future trading.
Native Americans saw the fort as providing protection, and by mid-summer, nearly 2,000 warriors were encamped near the site to form a confederacy against the American forces sure to arrive. As General "Mad Anthony" Wayne reached the site of present-day Maumee, he had no plans to attack Detroit. His commands were to eliminate the tribal confederacy, thus clearing the way for future settlement by white settlers. Following a brief, but fierce, battle at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Indians fled to Fort Miamis seeking British protection and artillery support. The British refused, hindering future relations with the natives and forcing the tribes to abandon the Northwest Territory. Wayne's troops followed the tribes to the fort, but decided against mounting a campaign against such a well-protected British fortress. The fort remained occupied by the British until 1796 when it was abandoned.
Left in ruins, the fort and its nearby dock were reoccupied by the British and their remaining Native American allies during the War of 1812. It was used as headquarters and a staging ground for British troops planning to attack the American stronghold, Fort Meigs. On May 5, 1812, American troops sent a group to surprise a British battery. Their instructions were to attack and then return immediately to Fort Meigs. Instead, exhilarated perhaps by their success, the American soldiers followed the British and Indians into the woods as they fled. This was exactly what the Native Americans had hoped, for in the woods they found their best defense. After the attack, 220 American soldiers were dead and 350 were captured and held at the Fort Miamis ruins. It is said that the great Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh, arrived at Fort Miamis and helped free the captives from future torturing.
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