previous next

Harmar, Josiah 1753-1813

Military officer; born in Philadelphia in 1753; was educated chiefly in the school of Robert Proud, the Quaker and historian; entered the army as captain of a Pennsylvania regiment in 1776; was its lieutenant-colonel in 1777; and served faithfully through the war in the North and the South. Made brevet colonel in the United States army in September, 1783, he was sent to France in 1784 with the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace. He was made Indian agent for the territory northwest of the Ohio, and in 1787 Congress made him a brevet brigadier-general. On Sept. 29, 1789, he was appointed commander-inchief of the army of the United States, and had charge of an expedition against the Miami Indians in the fall of 1790, but was defeated. Harmar resigned his commission in January, 1792, and was made adjutant-general of Pennsylvania in 1793, in which post he was active in furnishing Pennsylvania troops for Wayne's campaign in 1793-94. He died in Philadelphia, Aug. 20, 1813.

At the time of his expedition against the Indians, the British, in violation of the treaty of 1783, still held Detroit and ether Western military posts. British agents instigated the Indians of the Northwest to make war on the frontier settlers, in order to secure for British commerce the monopoly of the fur-trade. This had been kept up ever since 1783, and the posts were held with a hope that the league of States would fall to pieces, and an opportunity would be afforded to bring back the new republic to colonial dependence. Sir John Johnson, former Indian agent, was again on the frontier, and Lord Dorchester (Sir Guy Carleton) was again governor of Canada, which gave strength to the opinion that the discontents of the Indians were fostered for a political purpose. The Northwestern tribes, encouraged by the British agents, insisted upon re-establishing the [249]

Fort Washington, on the site of Cincinnati.

Ohio River as the Indian boundary. Attempts to make a peaceable arrangement were unsuccessful. The Indians would listen to no terms; and in September, 1790, General Harmar led more than 1,000 volunteers from Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) into the Indian country around the head-waters of the Maumee (or Miami), to chastise the hostile Indians. He did not succeed. He found the Indians near the head of the Maumee, at the junction of the St. Joseph's and St. Mary's rivers, late in October, 1790. Four hundred men were detached to attack them, of whom sixty were regulars, under Major Wyllys. These reached the Maumee after sunrise on Oct. 23. Militia under Major Hall proceeded to pass around the Indian village at the head of the Maumee, and assist, in their rear, an attack of the main body on their front. The latter were to cross the Maumee at the usual ford, and then surround the Indians, who were led by the celebrated chief, Little Turtle. Before this could be effected the Indian encampment was aroused, and a part of them fled. Some of the militia and the cavalry who had passed the ford started in pursuit, in disobedience of orders, leaving the regulars, who had also passed the ford, unsupported, when the latter were attacked by Little Turtle and the main body of the Indians, and driven back with great slaughter. Meanwhile the militia and cavalry pursuers were skirmishing with the Indians a short distance up the St. Joseph's. They were compelled to fall back in confusion towards the ford, and followed the remnant of the regulars in their retreat. The Indians did not pursue. The whole expedition then returned to Fort Washington.

The Maumee Ford, place of Harmar's defeat.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Josiah Harmar (3)
Me-che-cun-na-qua Little Turtle (2)
George Wyllys (1)
Anthony Wayne (1)
John Johnson (1)
Samuel Hall (1)
Guy Carleton (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: