Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

TREATY OF GREENVILLE, 1795

 

Maybe it took the disastrous defeat of the Arthur St. Clair in 17to sober the American Congress to the seriousness of the situation on the frontier.  It was clear that many mistakes had been made in that effort and there was plenty of blame to go around.  George Washington replaced Arthur St. Clair with Anthony Wayne.  Wayne was not a clear choice for the job but in the end proved to be the correct one. 

 

For the first time, Congress appropriated a significant sum of money for raising and supporting an army.  General Wayne took his assignment very seriously and spent considerable time studying the details of the St. Clair campaign.  With some difficulty, he recruited and staffed a 2,500-man army that he trained, disciplined, and drilled into an effective army.  He was a hard disciplinarian and demanded performance which he got.

 

As with General St. Clair, it was not possible to move a large army and keep it secret from the Indians.  Indian spies tracked General Wayne's activities from the start.  Unlike earlier offensives by the whites, however, the Indians observed that Wayne's army was trained and well equipped.  With considerable trepidation the Indian commanders prepared for battle by recruiting all available tribes to supply warriors. 

 

General Wayne marched his army north from Cincinnati.  He built additional forts along the way, garrisoned them and assured that his supply line remained intact and effective.  By contrast, some dissention occurred among the Indian forces causing some of the force to withdraw their support.

 

When a confrontation finally occurred, General Wayne positioned his forces near but a safe distance away from an area known as Fallen Timber where the Indians were known to be laying in wait for the advancing army.  Fallen Timber was a large swath of forest in which essentially all the trees had been blown down by an earlier tornado.  The fallen and tangled trees provided excellent cover and effectively denied easy mobility by horses.  As was the custom among Indians entering into battle, they fasted the day preceding the battle.  Being aware of this, General Wayne delayed the engagement resting his troops and extending the Indians' fast for three days.  When the battle was finally engaged, a large number of the Indians had gone to the Fort Miami, the British fort that was nearby for food.  The Indian defender at Fallen Timber, weakened by their extended fast and numb with cold, put up only modest resistance.  They shortly retreated from the Fallen Timber area to Fort Miami where they expected to be given refuge by their allies, the British.  The British would not allow them to enter so they finally were forced to flee in advance of the approaching white army.

 

Neither the white nor the Indian armies suffered many casualties as a result of the Battle of Fallen Timber.  General Wayne ordered the crops of the Indians and those surrounding Fort Miami to be destroyed depriving the Indians of much of their winter sustenance. The Indians became disheartened by the extensive show of strength of General Wayne's army, the loss of their food resources and concluded that Moneto, the Indian Great Spirit or God, had forsaken the Indian in favor of the whites.  Over the next weeks and months most of the Indian tribes that had joined together to do battle with the white army, on a tribe-by-tribe basis, sued for peace.

 

At the invitation of General Wayne a council, originally scheduled for June 1st, was convened with the Indian tribes in mid-July of 1795.  The delay was designed to accommodate many of the late arrivals of some of the Indian tribes.  General Wayne personally welcomed each tribe that arrived.  After weeks of discussion, the Treaty of Greenville was finally signed in early August. 

 

In this treaty, the Indians gave up the southern half of what is now the State of Ohio.  This ceding of land was the crux of the treaty.  However, it included many other items and conditions.  Among these were the conditions that the Indians would from then on, be under the protection of the government of the United States.  Further, if a white man were killed by an Indian, the responsible Indian was to be turned over to the whites for trial and punishment.  Conversely, if an Indian were killed by a white man the killer would be turned over to the Indians for punishment.  Another provision of the treaty was that the Indian tribes were promised annuities from the U.S. Government.

 

The Indians who signed the Greenville Treaty were positively impressed by General Anthony Wayne and felt that in spite of the loss of land, they were well treated and all their grievances considered.  All of the tribes had not participated, however, and some such as the followers of Tecumseh, a splinter tribe of the Shawnees, did not recognize the treaty.  These groups continued to cause problems on the frontier but the number of raids were sharply curtailed.  With the Greenville Treaty the Northwestern Territory was effectively opened and the stream of settlers entering became a flood.

 

The Treaty of Greenville did not last, however.  It was not long before the whites were again encroaching on Indian land and new treaties were developed to supercede the terms of the Greenville Treaty.  By 1812, the Northwest Territory became free of all Indian tribes. .

 

Click here for the Short-Cut Table of Contents