Monday, March 30, 2020

Invading New York

Commander K. "Invading"
Grand Central Station

Today all eyes are cast on New York -- the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA.  As of this writing New York State has experienced over 53,000 diagnosed cases of COVID -19 and over 800 deaths. These numbers are certain to rise and New York is the hardest hit state by far in the country now.  The Coronavirus has been a silent invisible invader of New York (and the world) that has preyed on the most vulnerable among us (see also my earlier blog on the Coronavirus...

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, has emerged as an eloquent, intelligent and humane spokesman as this crisis grips his state and strangles the once vibrant NY economy.  He has demonstrated the plucky fighting spirit that beats in the hearts of all New Yorkers.

In the New York chapter of America Invaded we outlined Invasions of New York from the first arrival of he Europeans right up to the present ( that have shaped the Empire state... 
New York
The Empire State
"The size, wealth, and power of the area known today as New York State have made it a magnet for many invaders and attackers over the course of its history. Its geography makes it particularly vulnerable to invasions. Manhattan, being an island, was the target of many seaborne invasions or attacks, from the Dutch in the seventeenth century to Nazi U-boats in World War II.  The unique topography of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain forms a water highway that provides a north-south axis of invasion that has been exploited by many powers.

The wealth that drew the earliest human “invaders,” as well as the first Europeans, was New York’s bounteous natural environment. The waters around Manhattan were teeming with oysters, which shaped the very landscape of the area. Middens, hills made of discarded oyster shells, were created by the bivalve-loving indigenous peoples of New York. Beavers built their dams in the Mohawk Valley.  The governor of New Amsterdam, Adriaen van der Donck, recorded in 1649 the capture of six-foot lobsters!  The city of Buffalo seems likely to have gotten its name from the American bison that once ranged through western New York.

The indigenous inhabitants of New York would frequently become caught up in the colonial rivalries between Dutch, French, English, and, finally, American settlers. The many wars they waged amongst themselves prior to the arrival of Europeans are mainly lost to history.

Henry Hudson
Circa 1565 - 1611?

In 1609, Henry Hudson, a Londoner employed by the Dutch East India Company, arrived in what is today New York, seeking a route to the Orient. He did not, of course, find any such thing. Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon had mostly peaceful interactions with the Native Americans, but one member of his crew, John Colman, was murdered when an Indian shot an arrow through Colman’s neck on September 6, 1609.

Dutch colonizers would follow in Hudson’s wake, establishing New Netherlands in 1624. They came in pursuit of the quick profits that could be made from the sale of beaver pelts. Fort Orange was built to protect the early Dutch settlers from the indigenous population. It later became known as Beverwijk and finally, with the arrival of the English, as Albany.
Killiaen Van Rensselaer
1586 -1643
Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
Kiliaen van Rensselaer, my own ancestor (CRK), was a Dutch merchant who purchased vast tracts of land in New York, although he never set foot in the New World.  This New York patroon is buried at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam’s red-light district.

Though the Dutch preferred to trade peacefully with the Indians, conflicts did arise. In 1638, Willem Kieft was appointed director by the Dutch West India Company. During his tenure, he reduced the customary annual tribute paid to the indigenous people.  The inexperienced Kieft also used the theft of some pigs to start what became known as Kieft’s War, which ran from 1643–45. Over a thousand Algonquian people were killed, as well as many Dutch.

The island of Manhattan was famously established by the Dutch not as a conquest, but as a business deal with the native people. Peter Minuit of the Dutch West India Company bought the island of Manhattan for the sum of 60 guilders from the chief of the Carnarsee, though the island was mainly inhabited by Weckquaesgeeks. The Dutch later built a wall along a street to protect Manhattan from the English in Connecticut. Today it is known as Wall Street.
Samuel de Champlain
1574 -1635

The English invasion of New York began in August 1664, when four British warships led by Richard Nicolls, a subordinate of the Duke of York in the English Civil War, arrived off  Manhattan. Peter Stuyvesant, the one-legged director of the Dutch colony, was compelled to surrender. New Amsterdam became New York.
Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and founder of New France, was the first European to visit the area near the future site of Ticonderoga in the summer of 1609. In late July, Champlain and his Indian allies skirmished with the Iroquois and red an arquebus loaded with four lead balls. Two Iroquois chieftains fell.
French voyagers and traders settled in New France, north of the British colony of New York.  The French built fortifications to prevent encroachment from the more populous British colonies to their south. In 1726, for example, they built Fort Niagara, the heart of which is known today as the French Castle ( They also launched occasional raids on British territory.

French Castle
Fort Niagara
In the winter of 1690, during the Nine Years’ War, a raiding party led by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville struck south from New France into New York.  The French and their Indian allies came via canoe across Lake Champlain and down the Hudson. Finding Fort Orange (now Albany) too well defended, they pushed on until they reached Schenectady. The town’s only guards were two snowmen! A predawn attack on February 9 killed sixty Schenectady residents.

And there was trouble on the home front as well. In England, Catholic King James II was forced from his throne. The next year, in 1689, German-born Jacob Leisler took the opportunity to seize power from Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson in New York. Two years later, English soldiers under Major Richard Ingoldesby were ordered to install a new regime to replace Leisler’s. Fighting ensued, but Leisler eventually surrendered and was hanged for treason.

There would be plenty of further fighting in the border area as Britain and France continued to compete for colonial dominance in North America. At the start of the Seven Years’ War (known in North America as the French and Indian War) the French, aided by superior generalship, enjoyed some success. Britain would not become dominant in the conflict until late in the war. New York, sharing a long border with New France, saw heavy fighting.

Early in the war, British and Native American forces triumphed over the French at the Battle of Lake George, though that victory did not lead to much. In 1755, the French built Fort Carillon, which later became known as Ticonderoga.  This limestone fort gave them a base from which to raid to the south. Ticonderoga is an Iroquois word meaning junction at two waters.

In 1757, General Montcalm led a force of 1,600 French and Canadian soldiers, along with their Indian allies, and invaded New York, marching south to Lake George. In August, they besieged and sacked Fort William Henry.  About fifty prisoners were massacred by the Indians.
Robert Rogers
1731 - 1795
On January 21, 1757, the Battle on Snowshoes was fought near Fort Carillon, when an American company of Rangers led by Robert Rogers was ambushed by the French and their Indian allies. Rogers learned from defeat, later writing Rogers Rules of Ranging, which serve even today as a guideline for American Special Forces.
New France had a total population of only 80,000 settlers versus around one and half million in Britain’s American colonies. This numerical superiority eventually overwhelmed the defenders of French Canada.

Montcalm was killed in 1759 at the siege of Quebec. at same year, the English constructed a new fort at Crown Point. Robert Rogers sortied from Crown Point to launch a punishing raid on the Abenaki village of St. Francis in 1759. at same year, British forces also finally captured Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Niagara.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War, with a British annexation of New France that made New York’s northern border secure.

The expense of the Seven Years’ War had to be paid for, and the British Crown soon started raising taxes on its American colonists, which contributed to the start of the American Revolution.

Fort Ticonderoga
New York

On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. When the British commander asked by whose authority they acted, Arnold thundered, “In the name of the Great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress.” Fifty-eight mortar and cannon seized at Ticonderoga would later be dragged by forces led by Henry Knox (a portly Boston bookseller) to Dorchester Heights in Boston, where they would be used to drive the British from that city.

However, the subsequent attempt by the Continental Army to invade north into Quebec was a disastrous failure, and the Fort Ticonderoga area again saw fighting as American forces attempted to resist the advancing British. An American fleet under Benedict Arnold was largely destroyed by British ships in the Battle of Valcour Island.
George Washington Death Mask
Morgan Library, NYC

In June of 1776, a British armada entered lower New York Harbor and began disembarking troops. General William Howe commanded 32,000 men, outnumbering Washington’s 19,000 soldiers. A series of engagements were fought, contesting New York. In August, the British landed on Long Island, eventually forcing Washington to evacuate the island. On September 16, the Americans won a sharp engagement at the Battle of Harlem Heights, but soon after Washington was compelled to abandon Manhattan to the British and their Tory supporters.  New York, along with New Jersey, was a hotbed of Loyalist support for most of the American Revolution. The King’s American Legion, for example, was made up largely of New Yorkers. At the Battle of White Plains on October 28, American militia were driven from the field, and Continental regulars withdrew from Chatterton’s Hill. At the close of 1776, it appeared that New York City had been permanently lost to the British.
"Gentleman" Johnny Burgoyne
1722 - 1792
The next year, 1777, became known as the year of the hangman due to the similar appearance of the number 7 and a gibbet. is year featured an invasion of New York that was, quite possibly, the most consequential in the area’s history. “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne, an amateur play- wright, led an invading army of over 7,000 troops from Canada that was made up of British, German, Canadian, and Loyalist forces. George III personally ordered the use of Indian forces to supplement his Redcoats, hoping they would terrorize the Americans into submission. British gold subsidized the Native Americans, who were paid an $8 bounty for either live rebel prisoners or their scalps. Burgoyne’s aim was to drive south toward British-occupied Manhattan, cutting New England off from the rest of the rebellious colonies.

Burgoyne’s complicated plan relied on coordinated British action, with around 1,600 troops led by General St. Leger striking from the St. Lawrence into western New York. Lord Howe, with 16,000 men, would march north from Manhattan to rendezvous with Burgoyne at Albany.

All went well for Burgoyne at first. His forces scouted the crest of Mount Defiance, which looked down upon Fort Ticonderoga. His artilleryman, General Phillips, declared, “Where a goat can go, a man can go; and where a man can go, he can drag a gun.” British cannons were dragged to the top of Mount Defiance, and General St. Clair, who commanded around 2,500 outnumbered and outgunned American defenders at Ticonderoga, was compelled to withdraw without a fight. General Phillip Schuyler, St. Clair’s superior and the commander of the Northern Department, was subsequently sacked by the Continental Congress and replaced by Horatio Gates. At this point, it seemed America’s Founding Fathers truly might be hanged on a gibbet, as Burgoyne and George III intended.
Bennington Monument
Bennington, Vermont

Even before Gates assumed command of the Northern Department, however, the tide began to turn. A reconnaissance into Vermont, led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum and his Brunswickers, ended disastrously for the British at the battle of Bennington on August 15. Troops from New Hampshire, led by General John Stark, earned a crucial victory in a battle that was fought in New York but is commemorated today by a large monument in Vermont.

One of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution was fought in New York on August 6, 1777, when Loyalists and Indians led by Chief Joseph Brant ambushed Colonel Nicholas Herkimer’s Tryon County militia at Oriskany. Around 200 Americans and 150 Indians were killed. Oneida Indians fought that day on the Patriot side.

Saratoga National Historic Park

But the most decisive actions of 1777 would be fought in September in the woods near Saratoga. On September 19, Burgoyne’s advance toward Albany was halted by American rebels, led by Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates, at Freeman’s Farm on the Hudson River. Burgoyne’s forces were repulsed again at Bemis Heights on October 7. Benedict Arnold, under the influence of rum, demonstrated conspicuous courage, and was wounded in the leg that day. Lord Howe, preoccupied with the capture of Philadelphia, had not left Sir Henry Clinton in New York City with enough troops to advance north to Albany. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne, with many of his troops close to starvation due to their stretched supply lines from Canada, surrendered his army of 5,895. Burgoyne himself was brie y held prisoner at General Schuyler’s (another NY ancestor by marriage! [CRK]) mansion in Albany. This decisive American victory was the turning point of the American Revolution, as it gave instant credibility to the rebel movement. Louis XVI’s France abandoned its neutrality and joined the war as an American ally directly as a result of the surrender at Saratoga.

Philip Schuyler

Native American forces allied to Britain hit back in the north of New York. In the fall of 1778, Chief Joseph Brant delivered a measure of revenge for Saratoga by leading a massacre at Cherry Valley. This town near Albany had a population of just over three hundred in 1775. On November 11, 1778, fourteen soldiers and thirty civilians were killed by the Iroquois, Among the dead were my ancestors Robert Wells, his wife, and several children, including his teenage daughter Jane (Commander K.).

As a result, many settlers ed the area, and the Continental Army sent in troops on reprisal operations. In particular, General Sullivan’s expedition in 1779 destroyed numerous Native American villages in Pennsylvania and New York.

In the Mohawk Valley and much of New York, the Revolution really came to resemble a civil war with raids and retaliations. The last major battle in the Mohawk Valley that involved regular British soldiers took place in Johnstown in 1781.

In 1780, Benedict Arnold, who had been passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress, conspired to deliver the American fort at West Point to the British. The plot failed, and the unfortunate British Major John André was hanged by the Continental Army for espionage.

Fraunces Tavern

On November 25, 1783 (Evacuation Day), British troops finally abandoned New York City. On December 4, Washington bade a tearful farewell to his officers at the Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan (

But another war was coming. In the War of 1812, British and American forces would clash in a number of places along the border between New York and Canada. Numerous raids were also launched across Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers.

During the war, another one of my ancestors (Commander K.), General Stephen Van Rensselaer, led an unsuccessful invasion from New York into Canada. Many of the New York militia he commanded saw themselves as a strictly defensive force.
Musket Demonstration
Fort Niagara, NY

American soldiers in Fort Niagara and British soldiers in Fort George, who had previously enjoyed friendly relations, traded cannon re across the Niagara River in the summer of 1812. On the evening of December 18, 1813, Colonel John Murray and 550 British soldiers crept toward Fort Niagara. A group of American guards were caught while playing cards and forced to divulge the fort’s password. The sleeping garrison was captured at bayonet point. It was to be the last foreign assault on an American military installation on the mainland until the Japanese attack on Fort Stevens in 1942. On December 30, in retaliation for the American burning of Newark, British troops and Native American allies attacked and burned Buffalo and Black Rock.

In September 1814, one of the decisive naval battles of the war took place at Plattsburgh. The naval elements of a British invasion force were defeated on Lake Champlain by US naval forces under Captain Thomas Macdonough. Realizing that without naval assistance, further progress on land would be hard, British land forces withdrew.  The American victory considerably strengthened the hand of the United States in the negotiations to end the war.

During the American Civil War, many New Yorkers would serve in the Union Army. On May 24, 1861, Elmer Ellsworth of Sarasota Springs became the first Union officer to be killed, shot by a Virginia hotelier wielding a
shotgun. Moments before, Ellsworth, a Zouave officer, had hauled down the Confederate flag in an Alexandria hotel.

New York has seen a wide array of assorted riots over the centuries, and the Civil War years provided one particularly tragic example. Late in the war, many recent immigrants to New York came to resent conscription into the Union Army. In the summer of 1863, five days of rioting broke out in Manhattan that resulted in over a hundred deaths and the lynching of eleven black men. The historian Samuel Morrison declared that these draft riots were “equivalent to a Confederate victory.”

In March of 1899, after the American victory in the Spanish-American War, Kaiser Wilhelm II had plans drawn up for a German invasion of New York City. One hundred thousand troops would land at Sandy Hook in nearby New Jersey and proceed toward Manhattan.

P. G. Wodehouse’s 1916 short story “The Military Invasion of America” spoofs invasion fiction that was popular at the time, describing a fictional attack on New York by a German armada, with the Japanese attacking the West Coast. “New York had been bombarded—but fortunately, as it was summer, nobody of any importance was in town.”
Allan Stewart Konigsberg

Allan Stewart Konigsberg was born in the Bronx in 1935. His Jewish grandparents had immigrated from Russia and Austria, and he grew up in Brooklyn speaking German and Yiddish. An imaginative boy, he spent time on the beach looking out for Nazi submarines during World War II. He never actually saw a German U-boat, but he did incorporate his fantasies into the 1987 lm Radio Days. Konigsberg is, of course, better known to us as Woody Allen.

But Nazi submarines o the coast of New York were no mere fantasy. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the German Navy launched a U-boat campaign against shipping on the Eastern seaboard with Operation Drumbeat. Americans were slow to implement convoy tactics for merchant shipping, and many ships were sunk. U-boat captains such as Captain Reinhard Hardegen used the brightly illuminated skyline of New York City to target ships, to devastating effect. It took many months for blackout laws to go into effect for coastal cities, and for convoy protocol to be adopted.

On June 13, 1942, four German saboteurs were landed from a U-boat near Manhattan. (Four more were later dropped off  in Florida.) Two turned themselves in, and the rest were arrested. They had been trained to attack targets such as Penn Station.  New York power was quite literally targeted by the saboteurs, who also planned to attack the hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. All of the would-be saboteurs were tried by military tribunals, and six were executed.  (See earlier blog on INVADING FLORIDA...

Twin Towers
September 11, 2001
According to Albert Speer, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, Hitler was obsessed by a vision of New York City in flames. In 1942, the Luftwaffe began plans for a strategic bomber that would have been capable of reaching the Empire State. The Luftwaffe intended to make use of its innovative jet technology. Five prototypes for the Amerika bomber were built, but the plan was never operational.
On September 11, 2001, hijackers belatedly realized Hitler’s nightmarish dream by transforming commercial passenger jets into weapons and flying them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Two thousand six hundred and six people were killed that day by the Al Qaeda attack."  (Source:

If you have enjoyed this chapter of America Invaded please purchase you own signed copy of the book

Dedicated with love to Nina Van Rensselaer
1928 - 2020, RIP
A Fighting New Yorker

Tourist Notes:There are so many places to explore NY's rich historic heritage.  Most of these destinations are, of course, currently closed.  But, God willing, life will return to normal soon...

1) FORT TICONDEROGA (  A private foundation runs this spectacular Fort.

2) FORT NIAGARA (  Niagara is more than just a waterfall!  Touch the War of 1812 here.

3) SCHUYLER MANSION ( in Albany.  A beautiful home in New York's capital.  Where Alexander Hamilton was married and Burgoyne was a POW.

4) FRAUNCES TAVERN ( in Lower Manhattan.  This tavern, built in 1711, was where George Washington said farewell to his officers from the American Revolution.  It is an excellent establishment to restore the tissues and to slurp down a few bivalves!

5) INTREPID SEA AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM (  You will find a WW2 air craft carrier right on the waterfront in New York City.  The deck is loaded with planes and friendly volunteers waiting for your questions.

6) NATIONAL SEPTEMBER 11TH MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM (  Never forget what happened to our nation and the world on that bright September day when the world changed forever.  Easy walking distance to Fraunces Tavern.

7) SARATOGA NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK (  Explore the battlefield on which Britain lost her best chance to defeat the upstart rebel colonies.

8) MORGAN LIBRARY (  This amazing library is a national treasure and the ginger bread in the cafe is delicious!

9) CHERRY VALLEY MUSEUM (  Explore the brutal history about the founding of our nation here in upstate New York.

Cherry Valley Museum
Cherry Valley, NY

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Are you Ashamed of your Government?

H. L Mencken
1880 -1956

H.L. Mencken once wrote that, "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."

A Liberal is ashamed because his government does too little.

A Conservative is ashamed because his government does too much.

The Libertarian finds that Mencken's proposition is simply axiomatic.

A Democrat today is ashamed today because of President Trump.

A Republican today is ashamed because of the relentless attacks by the media on President Trump.

An Isolationist is ashamed because his country intervenes too much in the affairs of other nations.

An Interventionist is ashamed because his government refuses to stand up for its principles or to assist other nations in their times of need.

I suppose that every decent man or woman really is ashamed of his or her government!

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Invading Ohio

National Museum of US Air Force
Dayton, Ohio

Ohio is an important state lying at the the heart of the nation.  It has a rich history in terms of sports, politics business (Standard Oil of Ohio) and military history too.  Last summer I had the unexpected pleasure of stumbling upon the 225th anniversary of the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers in northern Ohio (see more below).  I was astonished and delighted to meet a re-enactor portraying "Mad" Anthony Wayne -- a distinguished general in the Continental Army of the Revolution.  The Dayton Peace accords  that ended the brutal war Yugoslav wars of the 1990s was negotiated in Ohio at Wright Patterson Airbase.

Waves of invasions have crashed over Ohio through the centuries shaping this state.  The French were the first Europeans to arrive followed by the British and the Americans.  Please enjoy the Ohio chapter of America Invaded (

"Ohio had a long and rich Native American history before the arrival of Europeans.  The Adena and Hopewell cultures flourished there, and the Great Serpent Mound is a spectacular example of a ceremonial mound.

In the seventeenth century, parts of Ohio were caught up in the Beaver Wars as the Five Nations of the Iroquois, armed with European guns and desperate to secure more hunting grounds for furs for the European market, turned on their neighbors, including the Erie, who were killed or scattered in the onslaught.

Robert de La Salle
1643 - 1687

The French took an early interest in Ohio. Robert de La Salle, for instance, explored part of it in the seventeenth century, and was the first European to see the Ohio River. Soon the French built Fort Miami near what is now Toledo.  The battle for control of Ohio was about to begin. From the east and north came Native Americans, including the Delaware, who had been pushed out of their original lands by the expansion of European settlements. And from the east, also, came people from Virginia and Pennsylvania—and the British.

In 1744, the British made the Treaty of Lancaster with the Iroquois; and in 1748, they made the Treaty of Logtown with the Delaware, Shawnee, and Wyandot. Also in 1748, they formed the Ohio Company. All of which didn’t please the French very much. In fact, it didn’t please them at all. So in 1752, a force of Ottawa and Ojibwa under Charles de Langlade, who was part Ottawa and part French Canadian, attacked a British trading post at Pickawillany.

Some of the local Miami people who had been trading with the British were killed. Soon open war broke out between Britain and France. By 1763, it was all over.  The French had lost and Ohio was British, or so the British thought. Some of the Native Americans had different ideas.

Chief Pontiac
Circa 1720  - 1769

In 1763, resentful of how the new British authorities and settlers dealt with them, a number of different Native American peoples, led by the Ottawa chief Pontiac, attacked a wide range of British targets in the region, including in Ohio. Fort Sandusky and Fort Miami were both captured. In response, a British proclamation was issued that aimed at preventing settlers from encroaching on Native American lands. George III’s edict contributed to American dissatisfaction with their colonial masters. In the end, the unity of the different indigenous groups began to fracture, and an expedition led by Colonel Henry Bouquet advanced through Ohio. Fighting eventually petered out, and a peace deal was made.

It was not to last for long.  The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix with the Iroquois led to settlers advancing into Shawnee and Delaware lands.  The resulting Lord Dunmore’s War was focused to the south of the present-day state of Ohio, and it only ended with the 1774 Treaty of Camp Charlotte, after Virginian forces crossed the Ohio.

But another war was coming. Yes, the American Revolution. Ohio was to see extensive fighting. Many Native Americans, including Shawnee and Delaware, sided with the British.  The war in Ohio was often bitter and brutal. In the Gnadenhutten Massacre of 1782, American militiamen murdered ninety Native Americans they had captured. A few months later at Sandusky River, a Patriot force battled with a force consisting of Shawnee, Delaware, and Loyalists.Two hundred and fifty Americans were killed either in fighting or after capture.  Their commander, Colonel William Crawford, after being captured, was tied to a stake and killed slowly and painfully over a period of two hours. And American victory in the War of Independence would not see the end of fighting in Ohio.
The Native Americans defeated the Americans in many early Ohio battles
Fallen Timbers Battlefield

In the period after the American Revolution, the new United States sought to extend its control of territory through a number of controversial treaties. In 1787, Ohio became part of the United States’ Northwest Territory, and settlers began to travel there in increasing numbers. New England veterans of the Revolution settled at Marietta on the Ohio in 1788. Settlers from New Jersey arrived near what is now Cincinnati, and the southern part of the territory saw settlers from Kentucky and Virginia too. Tension between the new United States authorities and a number of Native American peoples persisted and frequently flared up.

An attempt was made to form a Native-American confederacy that could resist the expansion of settlements, a confederacy that included Native Americans from a variety of peoples, including the Shawnee, Wyandot, Lenape, and Miami. British forces were still present at a number of locations in the region, and British traders were still supplying guns to the Native Americans. In 1789, the United States constructed Fort Washington and assorted American settlements north of the Ohio River. Native Americans chose to resist and to push the Americans back south of the Ohio.

"Mad" Anthony Wayne, Commander K. and Continental Musician
Fallen Timbers Battlefield Visitor Center, Ohio

American forces suffered a number of significant defeats in the subsequent war, but still the Americans constructed a line of forts leading north from Fort Washington, including Fort Hamilton and Fort Jefferson. And in 1792, Major General Anthony Wayne was ordered by Congress to build a bigger and better army, which he did. In late 1793, Wayne with his new command, known as the Legion of the United States, began traveling north into Native-American territory.  They constructed two more forts, Fort Greenville and Fort Recovery, to the north of Fort Jefferson. Finally, in August 1794, near what is now Toledo, Wayne’s forces decisively defeated Native American forces, which included Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, Ojibwa, and Ottawa, and a detachment of Canadian militiamen at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  The aftermath of the American victory saw final British withdrawal from the area; and with the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, Native Americans ceded more than half of what is now Ohio. More settlers arrived, and in 1803 the State of Ohio was admitted to the Union.

Fallen Timbers Battlefield
Toledo, Ohio
Tecumseh was a Shawnee leader born somewhere near Chillicothe in Ohio. Starting in 1811, he led Native-American military resistance to American expansion in what is now Indiana. But when the War of 1812 started, his campaigns were linked into the wider war between the United States and Britain (See Invading Alabama...
1768 - 1813

In the spring of 1813, a force consisting of British and Canadian troops under Major-General Henry Proctor and Native Americans led by Tecumseh and Roundhead, a Wyandot leader, attempted to seize Fort Meigs, at what is now Perrysburg. During the ensuing siege, Kentucky reinforcements tried to fight their way through to the fort. Some succeeded. However, a few were captured and killed in the River Raisin Massacre before Tecumseh arrived and put a stop to the slaughter. In the end, though, attempts to take Fort Meigs in 1813 would fail. In September of that year, near Put-in-Bay, United States Navy ships under Commodore Oliver Perry defeated and captured a British Royal Navy force in one of the major US victories in the war. In the aftermath of the British defeat, Procter retreated; and in October 1813, the charismatic Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames in Canada.

The days of major fighting for control of Ohio were almost at an end, but before they were fully over, there were a few more twists to the story.

George Armstrong Custer Statue
Monroe, Michigan

In 1835–1836, the Toledo War broke out between Michigan and Ohio. Confused surveying had left control of a strip of land stretching west from Toledo in dispute. When applying for statehood in 1835, Michigan claimed it, but Ohio objected. Both Michigan and Ohio sent militia to the area. In the end, a compromise was found. Ohio got the Toledo strip and Michigan most of the Upper Peninsula.
In 1839, George Armstrong Custer was born in New Rumley.

Battle of Fort Fizzle

Ohio wasn’t exactly the main focus of the Civil War, but it wasn’t entirely quiet in the state either.
For a start, there was the Battle of Fort Fizzle. Fought in June 1863, it wasn’t actually much of a battle. In 1863, as the Civil War raged, some conscription officials were attacked in Homes County. When soldiers were sent to restore order and enforce the conscription process, they found hundreds of armed men defying them from a makeshift fort. Some shooting took place, but eventually the resistance fizzled out without too much damage done.

However, the very next month, the situation got a lot more serious. On July 13, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders crossed from Indiana into Ohio. Morgan’s famous raid started in Tennessee and stretched over a thousand miles.  They headed across southern Ohio, aiming to escape to West Virginia, but were defeated by Union troops and gunboats at the Battle of Buffington Island. Some of Morgan’s men would eventually manage to cross the Ohio River, but Morgan himself and most of his men were surrounded and forced to surrender at Salineville. Morgan did manage to escape captivity and returned to the South, but was killed not long afterwards.

Kent State 1970
"Four Dead in Ohio..."

The Buckeye State would produce many more well-known military figures, but they would become known for their actions beyond the borders of Ohio, not within them. To select just a few, we have Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Eddie Rickenbacker, Curtis LeMay, and John Glenn.
On May 4, 1970, young Americans in uniform fired on other young Americans who were protesting the bombing of Cambodia and the Nixon administration. Members of the Ohio National Guard killed four unarmed protestors at Kent State University.  The tragedy was a watershed event of the Vietnam War."  (Source:

Memphis Belle
National Museum of US Air Force
Dayton, Ohio

Tourist Notes:
1) The NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE US AIR FORCE in Dayton Ohio is truly amazing (  An extraordinary collection of military aviation from the dawn of flight to the present.  Includes many versions of Air Force One.  Not to be missed!

2) FALLEN TIMBERS BATTLEFIELD near Toledo is a marvelous place to explore American history and the long bloody struggle between indigenous people and American settlers. (

Whiskey Sour
Century Bar
Dayton Ohio

3) The CENTURY BAR in downtown Dayton Ohio is a true old fashioned bar - bar (  The cherry wood and stained glass is magnificent but just wait until you try their whiskey sour -- incredible!  The Century Bar is the perfect place to restore tissues after a long day at the Air Force Museum.

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