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The War of 1812- The Siege of Fort Wayne

Sir Isaac BrockJan 5, 2018, 11:23:40 AM


     Since the defeat at the battle of Tippecanoe on the 7th of November, 1811, Native American tribes on the Northwest frontier had an increasing aversion to the nearby presence of the United States. Encouraged by other British/Native American victories at places such as Fort Dearborn and Detroit, native tribes began to undertake campaigns against other smaller American outposts.

     Fort Wayne, in northeast Indiana Territory, had fallen into disrepair in the years leading up to 1812. As a frontier outpost stationed in a busy Native American town, the garrison was often insubordinate, and Captain James Rhea had allowed many of the buildings to deteriorate. The walls, once strong enough to withstand cannonballs, had not been maintained. Although there was a good well inside the fort, the food stores had gotten low by September. Rhea began to worry about his position once Fort Dearborn and Detroit fell. The growing Indian threat outside the fort led Rhea to begin drinking heavily. Once several occasions Rhea invited Native delegates into the fort to discuss terms of peace with the tribesmen (mostly to ensure his own personal safety).

     The next morning, Chief Winamac and Five Medals of the Pottawatomie and Miami tribes initiated hostilities when their warriors attacked two of Rhea's men. This was followed by an assault on the east side of the fort. Though this was repulsed, the Native Americans began burning the adjacent village and constructed two wooden cannon in an effort to trick the defenders into believing they had artillery. Rhea was considering the idea of surrender with his men, much to the disturbance of his officers, and 2 of his lieutenants declared him unfit for duty, thereby seizing command of the fort.

     General William Henry Harrison, the newly appointed commander of the Northwest frontier, personally led a relief force of 2,200 soldiers to Fort Wayne, arriving there on the 12th of September. General Harrison attacked and defeated the Native American force, lifting the siege, and causing the Pottawatomie and Miami forces to retreat into Ohio and Michigan Territory. Harrison had originally arrested Rhea but allowed him to resign instead, he then placed Lt. Philip Ostander (1 of the 2 lieutenants that had relieved Rhea) in command of the fort.

     The siege prompted Harrison to order punitive expeditions against the Miami tribe. Operating from Fort Wayne, troops burned Forks of the Wabash as well as Five Medals Village. The defeats at the Battle of Fort Harrison and the Siege of Fort Wayne caused the Miami warriors to lose confidence in their chiefs. Many of them turned instead to the influential leadership of Tecumseh and joined his Confederacy. No further Native American attacks occurred in the Indiana Territory for the rest of the war, but it was not until Tecumseh's defeat at the Battle of the Thames that the Native threat was really eliminated.


Sorry that this was so short, but I completed it while working on a much more substantial installment about the battle for which my namesake has had a monument built to his honour. I hope you found this little dossier interesting.

Goodbye for now.



What Started the War https://www.minds.com/blog/view/786155003864682496

Siege of Fort Mackinac https://www.minds.com/blog/view/788696278660812800

Capture of Fort Detroit https://www.minds.com/blog/view/790511552656216064

Battle of Queenston Heights https://www.minds.com/blog/view/795965830373089280

Siege of Fort Wayne https://www.minds.com/blog/view/795975806537736192

Battles of Frenchtown https://www.minds.com/blog/view/804277806997942272

Battle of Ogdensburg https://www.minds.com/blog/view/810315122197479424

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