The battle of Wabash of 1791 was part of only the second offensive campaign undertaken by the new United States Army (after Harmar's campaign in the same area in the previous year). A small army under the command of General Arthur St. Clair, a successful Revolutionary War commander, advanced slowly into the Wilderness, aiming at a large Indian settlement. Well before reaching its target the Americans were attacked by a smaller, but much better organised, Indian army, and suffered the heaviest defeat that would be inflicted on the US Army during the entire course of the Indian Wars.
Early in its existence the United States government had very little power, other than in the Northwest Territory (the area around the Great Lakes, including modern Ohio) and the Southwest Territory (modern Kentucky). Settlers in the Northwest Territory clashed with the local Native American tribes, and the entire venture in the north-west looked to be in danger. President Washington responded by gaining agreement for an enlargement of the US Army and for its deployment in the North West. After Harmar's unsuccessful 1790 campaign St. Clair was given command of an army that was meant to include 4,000 US Army troops and up to 2,000 militiamen.
This book follows the slow unravelling of the American plan, which began when less than half of the troops could be raised and ended with a crushing defeat at the hands of the Indian coalition. The story is illustrated with some very useful maps, showing the day-by-day progress of the American and Indian armies, and other events that had occurred in the same areas (including the events of Harmar's expedition and the repetitive atrocities of border warfare, with villages and settlements on both sides being raided or destroyed and a series of defeats and massacres). We also follow the evolution of the Indian coalition and its plans, before moving onto a detailed account of the battle itself.
This is an excellent account of the battle of Wabash, the campaign that led up to it and the immediate historical background in the old North West.
The Strategic Situation
The Campaign and Battle
The Battlefield Today
Author: John F Winkler