BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s Legion of the United States, members of the Northwest Indian Confederacy and the Canadian militia loyal to Great Britain met on August 20, 1794, the battle lasted less than two hours – but had lasting consequences.
This August, to mark the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Fallen Timbers, re-enactors of Wayne’s Legion, the Indian Confederacy, Canadians and British will converge on Maumee for a five-day event that will include battlefield tactical demonstrations, lantern tours, and military and cultural musical performances.
“This was the first battle won by the U.S. Army against the native confederation,” said Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission (FTBPC) member Adam Hoff. He noted that while the battle was long thought to be right along the river, now-retired Heidelberg University professor Dr. Michael Pratt found that it was instead at an inland site.
The Fallen Timbers Battlefield Park has since opened and features a visitor’s center and interpretive battlefield walk.
For Wayne and his Legion, the win paved the way for westward expansion. For the Native Americans, it signaled the beginning of the loss of their ancestral Ohio lands.
As the FTBPC prepares, along with the Metroparks, for the August 16-20 commemoration, president Julia Wiley said ancestors of those who fought in the battle are being sought. Last year, she met with the family of Ed Church at a memorial service held at the battlefield for this longtime commission member and proud descendent of Chief Little Turtle – the Miami Indian leader at the battle. Another descendant, Daryl Baldwin, a Miami Indian of Oklahoma and founder of the Myaamia Language Center of Miami University, is also from the area.
“I’ve also spoken with some descendants of Gen. Wayne. We want to invite descendants of those who fought in the battle to participate in the anniversary. We want to host an event like a family reunion,” she said.
The 225th anniversary celebration will mainly take place at Side Cut Metropark in Maumee, in order to have room for large crowds. Re-enactors of American Indian forces and Legion and Canadian militia will be encamped at Side Cut throughout the weekend, providing demonstrations and insight into life in 1794.
Tours of the battlefield site and the Fallen Timbers Monument will be available in several formats, including lantern character walks and guided golf cart tours for those unable to walk the 1.5-mile path. The Metroparks system is planning improvements to Fort Miamis – where the British were stationed during the battle. Those improvements may not be done by the August anniversary, but if so, tours will be encouraged.
“We expect people from all over the United States, Canada and beyond to come here for this event,” Wiley said. “I know that many of them will want to see all the sites that played a role in the battle.”
One couple that may be making a stop in Maumee for the 225th is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“I received an e-mail from our Canadian colleagues that the Fallen Timbers anniversary has been attached and filed to their North American Royal Tour itinerary as an interest,” Wiley said. “We cannot know if they will attend, but there is a direct historical connection between the site and the current royal family. Invitations are also going out to Gov. Mike DeWine and other area leaders.”
In the meantime, teams are still working on plans for a commemorative coin, license plate and suitable proclamations. Still needed are volunteers to serve as hike leaders, a volunteer coordinator, re-enactors and sponsors.
St. Luke’s Hospital and The Toledo Clinic have stepped up as presenting sponsors for the event, but an event of this caliber requires more support to be able to offer almost all of the events free to the public, Wiley said.
“The Battlefield Comm-ission has additional sponsorships available at all levels for businesses and individuals interested in helping to make this international event a success,” she said.
Leading up to the anniversary are two other events:
• Memorial Day at the Fallen Timbers Monument, just south of US 24 on Fallen Timbers Lane, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.
• Douglas Brinkley, Perrysburg native and CNN presidential historian, author, national commentator, professor of history at Rice University and fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy, will speak on Thursday, July 11.
In the weeks leading up to the 225th anniversary, follow the progress of Gen. Anthony Wayne in a special “Where’s Wayne” column in The Mirror.
For information on volunteering or sponsorships, contact Wiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the battlefield’s website, www.fallentimbersbattlefield.org.