Skip to main content

The Battle Of Fallen Timbers

April 2023
2min read

On the morning of [August] twentieth [1793], with about three thousand men, including the mounted Kentuckians under [General Charles] Scott, [Wayne] marched down the north branch of the Maumee to attack the Indian position. A drizzling rain was falling and the clouds were dark.

The Indians had long been preparing for the conflict… A few miles south of the British fort, they had taken up a position at Presque Isle, a hill or ridge along which ran a mighty swath of fallen timber, felled years before by a tornado. Among the fallen trunks, many of which were twisted but not severed from their stumps, a second growth of trees had sprung up. The Indians cut off these smaller trees breasthigh and turned their sharpened ends toward the enemy. In the fortress thus formed by wild winds and men were gathered Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, and Tecumseh with from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors, and about seventy French, English, and Tory Rangers under Captain Caldwell. Their line was about two miles long and lay at right angles to the river; a red foe crouched behind every stump …

The American infantry advanced in columns, with a battalion of mounted volunteers in front. The right wing was protected by the river: one brigade of mounted volunteers was stationed on the left and the other in the rear. After advancing about five miles, the vanguard was Bred upon and driven back by Indians secreted in the woods and the tall grass. The infantry was at once formed in two lines parallel with the enemy’s position. Wayne ordered the first line to advance, to rouse the Indians from their coverts, to fire and then to push them with the bayonet before they had time to reload. With both brigades of the mounted volunteers, General Scott was to take a circuitous route and fall upon the enemy’s right flank, and Captain Campbell with the regular cavalry was to charge their left flank next the river: Wayne had decided “to put the horse hoof on the moccasin.” The ground was unfavorable lor cavalry, but the dragoons galloped forward at full speed, cut down some of the enemy, and put to flight the others in that quarter. The infantry was equally successful. At the turning-point of the battle, Turkey Foot, the young chief of the Ottawas, standing on a rock that still bears his name, shouted to his braves to stand firm—the Great Spirit would make them strong. For an instant, the clouds parted and the sunshine fell upon him like the apurovina: smile of Heaven. But the clouds soon closed their rifts and shut out the sunshine; at that moment Turkey Foot fell pierced by a musket ball. Then panic swept down and slaughter surged where the tornado had destroyed. The Indians were driven from the field before Wayne’s second line and Scott’s volunteers were able to take much part in the action. The Indians “could not stand against the sharp ends of the guns” and “their moccasins tracked blood on the sand.” For seven miles along the river and through the woods the Americans pursued; it was the bayonet against the tomahawk and few prisoners were taken. Some of the fugitives lied to the River Raisin and some did not falter in their flight until they were safe in Canada. The American loss was one hundred and thirty-three, of whom forty-four were killed or mortally wounded. The enemy’s loss was probably two or three times as great and included several of Caldwell’s rangers, one of whom was captured. “It was,” says [Theodore] Roosevelt, “the most important victory ever gained over the Northwestern Indians, during the forty years’ warfare to which it put an end.”

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "June 1958"

Authored by: Stewart H. Holbrook

The steamship clerk of Pig’s Eye, Minnesota, built a railroad empire from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound

Authored by: Peter Lyon

On the theory that the greatest show is people, George Tilyou turned a rich man’s resort into a playground for the masses

Authored by: Edward S. Wallace

Spare, frail, and plagued by old wounds, Ranald Mackenzie was still “the finest Indian-fighting cavalryman of them all”

Authored by: Rene Kuhn Bryant

The dogged effort to record the life of every Harvard man has reached the class of 1744, and with 3,000 new subjects being added every year, the end is nowhere in sight

Authored by: William A. Owens

The story of the first great Texas oil well, which ushered in a new century and a new age, as remembered by participants

Authored by: C. S. Forester

No American ships were involved, yet on its outcome hung Great Britain’s recognition of our independence

Authored by: E. H. Silverman

The canvases of John Trumbull, sometime soldier, reluctant artist, have given us our visual image of the colonies’ struggle to be free

Authored by: Saunders Redding

At Fort Wagner the Negro soldier was asked to prove the worth of the “powerful black hand”

Authored by: Dale Van Every

To secure the old Northwest he waged our first cold war, which came to a climax in the Battle of Fallen Timbers

Authored by: Edward Brecher

For nearly three centuries men have speculated on its mysterious inscription

Featured Articles

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.