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[[File: ST_Clairs_Defeat_1791.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Historical Marker at the Location of St. Clair’s Defeat in Ohio]]__NOTOC__
On November 4, 1791, on the banks of the Wabash River in what is now western Ohio, the United States Army suffered its worst defeat of the entire U.S.-Indian Wars. The battle itself remains little known among most Americans and has been researched and written about very little in academia. Although three times more Americans lost their lives in this battle than at Little Bighorn, it is usually referred to as “St. Clair’s Defeat” instead of being named for the nearest town or geographical marker. Some academics attribute the lack of interest in the battle to the American commander, General Arthur St. Clair, who as governor of the Northwest Territory was more of a politician than a general. Others point to the apparent anonymity of the Indian leaders – modern scholars believe they know what chiefs led the warriors in battle, but are not sure about their roles. Whatever the reasons for the lack of interest in the battle, all scholars agree that it played a pivotal role in the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795), setting the stage for future American-Indian conflicts.
As important as St. Clair’s Defeat may have been in the wider geo-political situation between the Northwest Indian tribes, the infant United States, and Great Britain, the immediate question that many ask is: how was the United States Army beaten so soundly by an Indian army? The answer is of course a bit complex and involves an examination of both armies. For the Americans, their leadership was sub-par, which was especially pronounced in poor planning, intelligence, and logistics. On the other hand, the Indians were a unified and committed army who were led by able and seasoned leaders.
===The Western Indian Confederacy===
[[File: Little_Turtle.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Little Turtle (ca. 1747-1812), Chief of the Miami]]
Many of the eastern Indian tribes supported the British during the American Revolution because they were told the British would stop or severely limit white migration and settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains and south of the Great Lakes. Whether that would have actually happened is irrelevant because the Americans won and the British allied tribes were forced to move farther west. The Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware tribes ended up in what are now the states of Ohio and Indiana, but was in the late eighteenth century the Northwest Territory. The tribes formed a number of semi-permanent communities, one of which was comprised of seven villages at the headwaters of the Maumee River near what is today the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Farther up the Maumee River, where it meets the Auglaize River near the modern city of Defiance, Ohio, there was another Indian community known as “The Glaize.” The Glaize was established in 1789, becoming a home and meeting place for the different western tribes. The Glaize was also home to British and French trading posts and became the headquarters of the Western Indian Confederacy. <ref> Tanner, Helen Hornbeck. “The Glaize in 1792: A Composite Indian Community.” <i>Ethnohistory</i> 25 (1978) p. 16</ref> The Americans viewed this strong Indian presence in the Northwest Territory as an impediment to their long-term goals. With that said, many members of President Washington’s administration believed the tribes could be dealt with peacefully, as long as the British were not in the picture.
===Continued British Influence===
[[Category: 18th Century History]] [[Category: United States History]] [[Category: History of the Early Republic]] [[Category: Native American History]] [[Category: Military History]]