One of Osprey’s free offers as the pandemic began, this was an unexpected acquisition for me. I’m not up on the US’s Indian Wars at all, other than a few bits of brief outline.

I was certainly aware of the problems with continued British presence in the area after the end of the Revolutionary War, and that there certainly was a lot of conflict between the tide of settlement washing over the Alleghenies and the Indians, that did culminate in a short war but that’s about the limit of it. Certainly, the subtitle of ‘The US Army’s first victory’ seemed… off.

But of course, before the end of the Revolution, the military was the “Continental Army”, and the first major engagements after its disbandment, and slow replacement under the Articles of Confederation, and then the current constitution were defeats. The Legion of the United States is then formed as the start of this particular campaign. Osprey spends some good time on this, as well as a couple pages talking about the general situation in the Northwest Territory, including some estimates of the numbers of people in the region.

This gets complicated with the French Revolution spilling over into North America in person of Edmond-Charles Genêt, who was supposed to be a minister from the new French government, but wanted to be a revolutionary leader, raising armies to invade Spanish territory, and planning to overthrow the American government for one more sympathetic with spreading the Revolution far and wide.

In addition to this, the new American army faced problems from within. Notably, two of Major General Anthony Wayne’s subordinates were working against him; Hamtramck felt unfairly passed over for promotion, leaving his reliability in doubt, and far worse, Wilkinson was being paid by the Spanish Empire to make sure the new army posed no threat to them, wanted Wayne’s job, and had been writing letters and newspaper articles undermining Wayne. So, when a major battle was finally in the offing after two years of campaigning, Maj Gen Wayne had arranged his chain of command so as to largely bypass his two primary subordinates. Not that they had nothing to do; the point was they did have things to do at Fallen Timbers, it just didn’t include command all of their sub-legions.

The bulk of the book of course is about the actual course of events, with a fair emphasis on the logistics challenges Wayne was overcoming to advance deep into Indian territory to force a confrontation. There’s the usual good maps along the way, but since I’m reading this in PDF, and maps are generally rotated 90-degrees, they weren’t as handy for me as I might have liked. There’s also a good number of color photographs of relevant places and museum exhibits. In all, a fairly typical solid Osprey Campaign presentation.

Overall, this period was very unsettled politically for the interior (Wilkinson earlier was involved with an effort to get Kentucky separated from Virginia and the US and allied to/part of Spain… with the practical goal of opening up navigation from there to the Caribbean, since Spain controlled all the downriver parts of the Mississippi), and this shows off part of the process where the region became more firmly tied to the US. However, Wayne’s methodical working through the various obstacles makes this an interesting study for a pure military viewpoint.