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[[File: ST_Clairs_Defeat_1791.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Historical Marker at the Location of St. Clair’s Defeat in Ohio]]__NOTOC__
On November 4, 1791, on the banks of the Wabash River in what is now western Ohio, the United States Army suffered its worst defeat of the entire U.S.-Indian Wars. The battle
itself remains little known among most Americans and has been researched and written about very little in academia. Although three times more Americans lost their lives in this [https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SHPTG0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000SHPTG0&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=709579ee412a47132bf55a75a34753ac battle than at Little Bighorn], it is usually referred to as [https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0190614455/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0190614455&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=b6750a7411c6c9cef6bc3091b217137a “St. Clair’s Defeat”] instead of being named for the nearest town or geographical marker.
Some academics attribute the lack of interest in the battle to the American commander, General Arthur St. Clair, who as governor of the Northwest Territory was more of a politician than a general. Others point to the apparent anonymity of the Indian leaders – modern scholars believe they know what chiefs led the warriors in battle, but are not sure about their roles. Whatever the reasons for the lack of interest in the battle, all scholars agree that it played a pivotal role in the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795), setting the stage for future American-Indian conflicts.
====The U.S. Goes to War against the Western Indian Confederacy====
As the Northwest Indian War raged, Secretary of War Henry Knox ordered the construction of Fort Washington in 1789 on the banks of the Ohio River in the location of what is today Cincinnati. Fort Washington was to be the first in a series of forts throughout the Northwest Territory extending to the headwaters of the Maumee River, <ref> Williams, Samuel C. “The Southwest Territory to the Aid of the Northwest Territory.” <i>Indiana Magazine of History</i> 37 (1941) p. 152</ref> which would eventually either lead to the total defeat of the Western Confederacy or its banishment west of the Mississippi. The military began mustering a large force of both regular army and militia in 1790 in anticipation of this major campaign, which was led by General Josiah Harmar. The campaign was ill-advised and began with Knox telegraphing its moves by warning the British, who in turn warned their Indian allies. Although Harmar was able to burn about 300 Indian villages, he lost 200 men in battle and returned to Fort Washington defeated. <ref> Tanner, p. 16</ref> Harmar’s loss meant that Knox would attempt to use diplomacy with the Indians one last time. The gulf between the desires of the Americans and Western Indian Confederacy was too great, though, so the talks ended in the spring of 1791. <ref> Tanner, p. 31</ref> Both sides began mobilizing for war, and it soon became apparent which side was better prepared.
Although General Arthur St. Clair requited himself quite well in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, he was fifty-four-years-old in 1791 and past his prime as a soldier. St. Clair had for the most part moved on past his military career and was at the time a civilian leader. He was the governor of the Northwest Territory, but he still had a longing for the military and wanted to lead a force to defeat the Western Indian Confederacy personally.
[[Category: 18th Century History]] [[Category: United States History]] [[Category: History of the Early Republic]] [[Category: Native American History]] [[Category: Military History]]