Families Learn About Famous Battle’s Scouts And Spies

The Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission hosted the 229th anniversary of the battle event on August 20. Above, Frank Butwin (right) as Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne explains to Scouts and visitors the path that his troops took to reach the battlefield in August 1794. MIRROR PHOTOS BY KAREN GERHARDINGER
Dan McMaster (left) of Maumee is a member of the 24th Regiment of Foot, a British regiment that was stationed at Fort Miamis during the Battle of Fallen Timbers. He is joined by Xavier Allen (center) of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment of Canada.

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne and Native American leaders Little Turtle of the Miamis, Blue Jacket of the Shawnee and Buckongahelas of the Delaware are the names most remembered in the August 20, 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, but behind the scenes, scouts and spies were hard at work for two years before the battle.

On August 20, the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Pres-ervation Commission (FTBPC) hosted an educational event to commemorate the 229th anniversary of the battle, with the theme of Scouts and Spies.

Scouts were used to create maps in what was then wilderness, so that Wayne’s Legion could advance. Both the Legion and the Native American forces used scouts to track troop movement, explained FTBPC president Julia Wiley, as she coaxed visitors into trying to step quietly through a pile of leaves. Scouts were often Native Americans and Canadian and Kentucky militia, who were used to tracking and hunting for food. Some of these scouts acted as spies.

William Wells, Gen. Wayne’s leader of the scouts and spies, was a white man raised by Native Americans, and he and the members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes would infiltrate gatherings of the Native Confederation to listen to their plans. Natives had spies in the American forces as well, including surveyors with the Kentucky Militia.

Some spies were also traitors – selling secrets to the enemies for their own profit. Gen. James Wilk-inson, second in command to Gen. Wayne, was hired by Spain to spy during the Fallen Timbers campaign. He betrayed the battle plans to the Natives and the Spanish.

Last weekend’s event gave families an opportunity to learn what skills were necessary to be a scout or spy, such as traversing the wilderness, dressing appropriately, creating flint tips for arrows or trapping animals for fur.

Pointing to a beaver hat, re-enactor Joel Berg chuckled.

“This was the Nike of its day,” he said. “They killed off most of the beaver in Europe, so people were fighting over pelts here. Muskrat was the poor man’s fur.”

Nearby, Washington Irving McGilvery III demonstrated flint knapping – an art he learned in 2012. Holding up a piece of leather, an antler and flint, McGilvery explained how he figured out how to shape the flint and other stone into arrowheads.

In the woods, Craig Fisher portrayed Gen. Wilkinson, the famous traitor. Wearing a wool uniform, boots, wig and hat, Fisher was trying to keep cool with a sip from his canteen.

“This was the Slater farm,” he said of the area that became a National Historic Site, opening in 2015. 

Jan Lowe portrayed a white woman who was adopted by the Delaware in Pennsylvania and then traded to a couple in Fort Miamis.

“I’m dressed like an Eastern Woodland,” she told Tim DeCapua and his father, also Tim, as they took the tour.

Down the path in the woods, Frank Butwin brought Gen. Anthony Wayne to life for several local Scouts, who were earning badges while on the tour.

The FTBPC sponsors Pack 205 of Monclova, explained Brian Dicken, who serves as a board member for both Scouts and the commission. 

“We wanted to create a link between the Scouts and the battlefield. The Scouts and Spies program gives Scouts an opportunity to work on their advancement and it exposes them to learning about history in their own back yard.”

The commission is already working on plans for the 230th anniversary of the battle, as well as the creation of an artifact museum at Wakeman Hall in Waterville, Wiley said.

For information about the historic site, which includes a 1.4-mile trail and interpretive history signage, visit www.FallenTimbersBattlfield.org.

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