FORT WAYNE FIVE: The biggest military engagements in Fort Wayne-area history

#5 - Capture of Fort Miami at Kekionga (modern-day Fort Wayne), May 27, 1763. Estimated soldiers engaged: N/A. Estimated deaths: About 5. The attack by Native Americans on Fort Miami was part of Odawa leader Pontiac's rebellion against British soldiers and settlers in the Great Lakes region. Commander Robert Holmes was lured out of the fort by his Native American mistress and was shot and killed by members of the Miami tribe, along with three of his men. The remaining dozen or so men in the fort surrendered. Pontiac's War ended with a shaky peace treaty signed in 1764. (Courtesy illustration)
#4 - The de La Balme Massacre at Eel River (modern-day Whitley County), November 5, 1780. Estimated soldiers engaged: N/A. Estimated deaths: 25-plus The Colonial Army's Inspector General of Cavalry Augustin de La Balme of France led an expedition through northern Indiana Territory during the American Revolution. After raiding Kekionga (modern-day Fort Wayne), de La Balme's force moved towards a trading post on the Eel River near what is today Churubusco. They were ambushed by Chief Little Turtle and his Miami warriors. Only a few of de La Balme's men survived. (Courtesy photo)
Estimated soldiers engaged: About 600. Estimated deaths: 30-40 Native Americans were growing restless in the Northwest Frontier during the War of 1812. In early September, warriors from the Potawatomi and Miami tribes gathered around Fort Wayne to lay siege. Fort commander Captain James Rhea retreated into the fort's walls and found refuge in the bottle, leaving his men to deal with the Indian attack. After a week-long siege, the natives retreated after a relief effort led by Indiana Territory Governor William Henry Harrison approached. (Courtesy illustration)
#2 - Hardin's Defeat at Eel River, October 19, 1790. Estimated soldiers engaged: About 250. Estimated deaths: Approximately 62. In the fall of 1790, the United States made its latest attempt to subjugate the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory. On October 19, Colonel John Hardin and about 200 men marched from south of Churubusco to within a few miles of Kekionga. A lone Indian on horseback appeared and the militia gave chase down a minor trail. It was a trap laid by the natives, who ambushed the column from three sides. (Courtesy photo)
#1 - Harmar's Defeat at Kekionga, October 22, 1790 Estimated soldiers engaged: Around 1,700. Estimated deaths: About 200. Three days after Hardin's forces were ambushed at Eel River, United States forces once again attempted to defeat a Native American force numbering around 1,000 warriors camped at Kekionga. When United States forces balked after seeing the size of the Indian force, Chief Little Turtle took the initiative, attacking from multiple sides and killing over 125 Americans. The battle was called the Battle of the Pumpkin Fields by the natives due to the steam of the scalped heads of the dead soldiers reminding the Indians of squash steaming in the cool air. (Illustration courtesy of The History Center)

For a good portion of early American history, the area in and around northeast Indiana was a battleground between Native Americans and British, French and American forces looking to lay claim to a region rich in natural resources and open land.

We have profiled the five largest military actions to take place in the area, based on casualties.


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