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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