Forts Miami and Fort Industry

Other Forts in and Near the Maumee River Basin

By Charles E. Slocum, M. D., Ph. D., Defiance, Ohio.


There were at least five forts, or stockades of defense, in the "Territory Northwest of the Ohio River" in its earlier history, that were called Fort Miami, namely:

1. The first one was built in November, 1679, by Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle by the River St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, on rising ground near its mouth. (Parkman's La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, page 149.) The builders were few in number, and their work was well advanced after twenty days, so it could not have been much of a fort; but it served its purpose. Evidently it served as a shelter, also, for the Aborigines thereabouts, and the occasional French wanderer through its vicinity, for several years; for Charlevoix wrote 'T left yesterday (16th September, 1721,) the Fort of St. Joseph River."

2. The second Fort Miami was built by order of the French Governor of Canada in the year 1686 (Harper's Ency. U. S. His., vol ix, page 486. Paris Doc. V, N. Y. Col. Docs., vol. ix, page 569), on the right bank of the River St. Mary, within the limits of the present city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. When visited by M. de Celoron's expedition in September, 1749, the buildings of this fort were small and in poor condition. The stockade timbers were rotten and falling. "Within there were eight houses, or, to speak more correctly, eight miserable huts, which only the desire of making money could render endurable." The twenty-two French occupants were all afflicted with fever. This fort was soon thereafter abandoned. (Jesuit Relations, vol. lxix, page 189.)

3. The third fort of this name was built to replace No. 2. It was located on the left bank of the River St. Joseph of the Maumee, not far above its mouth, "a scant league," say two miles or less, from No. 2, and also within the present City of Fort Wayne. It was built in 1749-50 by Commandant Raimond who thought it advisable at that time to abandon Fort Miami No. 2 for the more desirable site by the St. Joseph.

Fort Miami No. 3 was surrendered to the British at the time of their conquest of the French in 1760; and its small British garrison was captured by the sympathizers with Pontiac in 1763. It was then abandoned as a military post, but the buildings were occupied by French traders and Aborigines until they were decayed and more desirable ones were obtained.

4. A small body of United States troops in passing along the Ohio River about the year 1790, stopped a short time just below the mouth of the Little Miami River. Their camp, hastily protected by logs as was usual by soldiers and even families in those days of prowling hostile savages, was called Fort Miami.

5. The strongest of all forts of the name Miami, including the buildings, garrison and equipment, was built by the British in the spring of 1794 about two miles below the lowest rapids and on the left bank of the Maumee River, the site being within the limits of the present Village of Maumee. This was a wide invasion of United States territory by the British for the purpose of opposing General Wayne's advance against the savages themselves directly, or for the better encouragement of the savages in their opposition. This fort was built according to the best military plans of that day with the material at hand; and was surrounded by a broad, deep ditch which was also protected. It was fully equipped with artillery, and its garrison in 1794 numbered several hundred men. General Wayne wisely decided not to attack it; but his reconnoitering's of the fort "within pistol-shot" distance would have brought disaster upon him had a less conservative and considerate officer than Major Campbell been in command.

According to the terms of the Jay Treaty this Fort Miami was surrendered to United States troops nth July, 1796, together with Detroit and the other forts wrongfully held by the British in United States territory from the close of the Revolutionary War.

This Fort Miami is the first military post or station authoritatively mentioned as existing by the lower Maumee River. Mr. Knapp, in his History of the Maumee Valley, or the person from whom he copied, probably confused the Maumee with the Fort Miami No. 1, built by La Salle by the River St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, which he called the River of the Miami. There has been a lamentable number of copyists, since the first confused statement, to place a Fort Miami on the lower Maumee in the year 1680.

There has also been much of conjecture with un-authoritative statements regarding Fort Industry, the site of which tradition places about the crossing of Summit and Monroe Streets in the present City of Toledo, Ohio. Henry Howe, in his Historical Collections of Ohio in 1846, also in his edition of 1896 volume ii, page 148, wrote that Fort Industry was "erected about the year 1800." H. S. Knapp, in his History of the Maumee Valley, 1872, page 93, wrote that it was built by order of General Wayne immediately after the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Neither of these writers give any authority; and their statements are negatively disproved by official records, as follows:

1. The Battle of Fallen Timbers occurred 20th August, 1794, and General Wayne's army was very busy caring for the wounded and dead, in searching the country for savages and in destroying their crops, during the two days before the countermarch began. The night of the 23rd, according to Lieutenant Boyer's Diary, the army bivouacked at Camp Deposit, Roche de Bout (not Roche de Bouef as written by some early chroniclers), and the morning of the 24th the march was continued up the Maumee River. This shows that there was not sufficient time between the Battle and the return march to build even a stockade, with all the other work on hand, and this, also immediately after the great excitements and exhaustions of the Battle.

2. No mention is made of Fort Industry, nor of building a post on the lower Maumee, in the Diary of General Wayne's Campaign, nor in the reports.

3. The report to General Wayne that on the 30th August, 1794, the British Agent, Alexander McKee, had gathered the Aborigines at the mouth of Swan Creek to feed and comfort them ("fix them"), is also presumptive evidence against the existence there or thereabouts of an American fort or body of troops at that time. (American State Papers, Aborigine Affairs, vol. ii, page 526. Also McKee's letter to the British Colonel Richard England at Detroit.)

4. Timothy Pickering, then acting Secretary of War, reported to the Congressional Committee on the Military Establishment 3rd February, 1796, the names of the then existing Military Stations. In this list the name Fort Industry does not appear. The stations then existing in and near the Maumee region were Forts Defiance, Wayne, Miami, and Sandusky, all of which aggregated a force of one battalion of infantry, one company of riflemen, and one company of artillery at Fort Wayne which was the headquarters for these posts. Also Forts Adams, Recovery, Jefferson, Loramie, Head of Auglaize, and Greenville the headquarters, had one battalion of infantry and one company of riflemen divided among them.

5. The 29th March, 1796, James McHenry, Secretary of War, with his thoughts on economy, particularly "ought the military force of the United States to be diminished," gave to the before mentioned Committee the list of forts to be mentioned in this region, with the garrison each should have, as follows: Defiance, Wayne, Adams, Recovery, head of Wabash, [Auglaize?], Miami, and Michillimackinac, each fifty-six men, and Detroit 112 men. In these reports Forts Miami and Detroit were recognized as the property of the United States, but they were not evacuated by the British until the nth July, 1796, according to the report of Lieutenant Colonel Hamtramck and others.

6. With the date of "War Department 23rd December, 1801, the estimate of all the Posts and Stations where Garrisons will be Expedient, and the number of men requisite for each garrison," does not contain the name Fort Industry.

7. An official statement of the reduced army under the Act of March, 1802, and its distribution 1st January, 1803, names Fort Wayne, with a garrison of sixty-four men, as being the only fortification or military station then in or near the Maumee region.

8. The report issued from "Head Quarters, Washington, February 4, 1805, for the Year 1803, designating every post and point of occupancy," does not contain the name Fort Industry.

9. Nor does the name Fort Industry appear in the schedule of "Posts and places occupied by the Troops of the United States in the year 1804, taken from the latest returns, and designating every post and point of occupancy; to which is annexed the number wanting to complete the Peace Establishment." The only fort, or United States troops in the Maumee region at this date was at Fort Wayne with an aggregate garrison, October 31st, 1804, of sixty-eight men. (See American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. ii, pages 113, 115, 156, 175, 176.)

In fact, the only authoritative statement that Fort Industry ever existed is the mere mention of it, "Fort Industry on the Miami of the Lake," as the place where was held an important treaty with Aborigines 4th July, 1805, (American State papers, Aborigine Affairs, vol. i, page 695); nothing more, nothing before, and nothing after this date, so far as the writer has been able to find by several inquiries, in person and by letters, at the War Department, at the United States Library, and other large libraries; and there is nothing but tradition to designate its site within the limits of the present City of Toledo.

The negatives here adduced are equal to positives; hence we may rest with the belief that "Fort Industry" was little more than a stockade built hurriedly, industriously, if a former stockade enclosure as a trading post there was not repaired instead in the summer of 1805 solely for the treaty there held, and called a "Fort" to make it more impressive to the Aborigines. It was soon thereafter abandoned by the troops who were then necessarily present, as at former treaties.

The authenticity of the frontispiece to Knapp's History of the Maumee Valley is completely set aside in an editorial from the able pen of S. S. Knabenshue in the Toledo Blade of January 24th, 1903. O. J. Hopkins who drew this view and engraved it on wood, asserted that his drawing was without foundation, in fact, and purely a work of his fancy. And such is the case, also, with the "old painting in oil" that is sometimes referred to, and of many statements that have been written regarding this fort.

Before the grading for streets began, two prehistoric semicircular earthworks, presumably for stockades, were surveyed in Toledo; one at the intersection of Clayton and Oliver Streets on the south bank of Swan Creek, and the other at Fassett and Fort Streets on the right bank of the Maumee. A third work of this character was recorded over fifty years ago by the late Colonel Charles Whittlesey as existing at Eagle Point about two miles up the river from the Fassett Street work. From the early records we catch glimpses of different traders with the Aborigines along the lower Maumee River; and there can be no doubt that stockades were employed for the protection of their goods and peltries, from the beginning of the 18th century, or before.

Online Resources | Ohio AHGP

Source: Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, Volume XII, 1903.




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