Meet the Battle of the Wabash or St. Clair’s defeat. When an American army of 1000 men was slaughtered by a Native American force of near equal strength in 1791. Only 28 men escaped unscathed with a casualty rate of 97%, it remains the largest defeat in American history.

St. Clair’s defeat

St. Clair’s defeat, also known as the Battle of the Wabash, the Battle of Wabash River or the Battle of a Thousand Slain, was a battle fought on November 4, 1791, in the Northwest Territory of the United States of America. The U.S. Army faced the Western Confederacy of Native Americans, as part of the Northwest Indian War. It was “the most decisive defeat in the history of the American military” and its largest defeat ever by Native Americans.

The Native Americans were led by Little Turtle of the Miamis, Blue Jacket of the Shawnees, and Buckongahelas of the Delawares (Lenape). The war party numbered more than 1,000 warriors, including many Potawatomis from eastern Michigan and the Saint Joseph. The opposing force of about 1,000 American… Continue Reading (13 minute read)

12 thoughts on “Meet the Battle of the Wabash or St. Clair’s defeat. When an American army of 1000 men was slaughtered by a Native American force of near equal strength in 1791. Only 28 men escaped unscathed with a casualty rate of 97%, it remains the largest defeat in American history.”

  1. QuirrelsTurban

    Damn, this is an incredibly interesting moment in history. The fact that I’ve never heard about this until today kind of blows my mind.

    The fact that this leads to the eventual claim of executive privilege and the ability of the president to call up the militia/National Guard is really interesting.

  2. ComicLawyer

    Interestingly, this event also led directly to the formation of the Legion of the United States, the first standing army of the US and a precursor to the US Army. Formed for the purpose of avenging St. Clair’s defeat, the Legion was meant to mimic Roman organization and was divided into four Sub-Legions that could operate independently, each with their own cavalry, artillery, infantry, and command staff. The Legion was led by Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who came up with a revolutionary set of new tactics to deal with the Natives’ style of warfare. Namely, he spread everyone out, used light screening forces, and refused to march in a column, which prevented the ambush and encirclement tactics that crushed St. Clair’s force. Wayne’s Legion soundly defeated the Indian Confederacy and their British allies at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, which opened up the Old Northwest Territory and sewed the seeds for the rise of Tecumseh prior to the war of 1812.

  3. captainhoneybear

    Is it also one of the biggest wins in American history?

  4. HerPaintedMan

    Little Turtle was a badass! His grave site is on a little side street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Beautiful little park in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    Worth a visit if you ever have the misfortune to be in Fort Wayne.

  5. Altrepidnt

    Only the largest defeat if we consider percentages.

  6. pleep_ploop_

    Shout out to asymmetrical warfare

  7. nekomoo

    St. Clair looks like an evil George Washington

  8. EarlHammond

    The Native Americans burned the remaining 200 wives, daughters and children of the men alive in giant bonfires. The most painful and horrific way to die.

  9. 69analninja69

    Afterwards, the Confederacy would given only token resistance when Washington sent reinforcements. Culminating in the dissolution of the Western Confederacy after the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

  10. scalpin21

    Check out dudley’s massacre in the war of 1812. About 600 soldiers forced to run the gauntlet back to fort miami where they were butchered in a pen untill tecumseh stopped the bloodshed.

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