A people aggrieved, a rage expressed

While travelling to Ohio to see my mother I deliberately passed through Fort Recovery, Ohio and snapped a series of photographs to document the small town’s tragic place in early American history.  For those readers unaware, Fort Recovery is a place of massive mayhem and tremendous loss of life. On the morning of November 4, 1791, just before sunrise, a combined force of Shawnee and Miami surprised a poorly trained and inadequately equipped force of American soldiers and camp followers at this location.  The results for the whites were nothing short of catastrophic and total annihilation was only prevented by a desperate bayonet charge which broke the Indian line and enabled a bloody and costly retreat. Nearly 80% of the American forces were left dead or wounded. A number estimated to be nearly 900 souls.

This sort of defeat would be met with resolve and careful planning, leading to the assignment of a very gifted new commander (Anthony Wayne) and a carefully planned and executed strategy designed to crush further resistance.  A series of forts were constructed moving northward from Cincinnati to Fort Wayne, Indiana. A wide road was constructed for troop passage and supply lines were scrupulously guarded. Careful and bold execution by American forces and betrayal of the Indians by their cowardly British allies following their defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers spelled the end of Indian resistance in the Ohio Valley. The Treaty of Greenville was signed nearly a year later on August 3, 1795.

While a listing of the facts of this tragedy are essential it must be noted the reason underlying the Fort Recovery bloodbath. It began with a sorely abused and desperate people expressing rage in the last means left to them. Total war.  Following the American Revolution, veterans expected payment for their war service, but the national coffers were empty. The only compensation left to give was free land and the fledgling government began to give it away, in spades. Of course, this was not without consequence.  The previous occupants of the land were not consulted on these new arrangements. Land was essentially confiscated, the old owners were pushed further and further west, treaties were made and repeatedly broken. Anger hardened into white-hot rage and desperate men began taking more and more desperate measures.  The bloodbath of Fort Recovery became inevitable. The human heart will always cry out for freedom and justice. It is it’s design. The sorely aggrieved can tolerate their pain for only so long.


Neal ArmstrongComment