Anthony Wayne’s fort

Audio: “Anthony Wayne’s fort” featuring Tom Castaldi. Courtesy of WBNI-Fort Wayne.

Older Historical Marker reads: “The site of General Anthony Wayne’s fort dedicated Oct. 22, 1794. It was the first United States fort near “Three Rivers.” This fort commanded the shortest portage between the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi systems. A portage known to the Indians as “Glorious Gate,” and a strategic crossroads in early trade and exploration.”

Major General Anthony Wayne had built five forts during his campaign against the Miami Confederacy in 1794; this fort was the last of the five. In Ohio, Wayne built Fort RecoveryFort AdamsFort GreenvilleFort Defiance, and Fort Deposit. Wayne had this fort built to erase the army’s bad reputation from being defeated by the Miami Nation at the Battle of Kekionga four years earlier.  He also realized that this fortification would lower the morale of the Native Americans and the fort would be able to control at least two important rivers. On Sept. 17, 1794, the legion arrived at the villages and set to work on the fort despite hardships caused by the weather and shortages of supplies.  The soldiers were kept under strict discipline and lived off of half rations the majority of the time. As many as five horses a day died from lack of feed. After a month long hauling of logs hitched to the backs of wagons, the fort was finished on Oct. 22, 1794. Wayne gave command of the fort to Colonel John F. Hamtramck.

The following morning, “Colonel Hamtramck marched the troops to the garrison at 7am after a discharge of fifteen guns, he named the fort by a garrison order, Fort Wayne,” reported Captain John Cooke. Others who were present reported that the guns were really rounds of cannon fire. The fort’s name was given to Hamtramck from an order handed to him from Anthony Wayne. The name Fort Wayne was previously decided during correspondence between Wayne and the War Department.

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Map by Bert J. Griswold showing the location of Anthony Wayne's Fort on present-day streets.

Map by Bert J. Griswold showing the location of Anthony Wayne’s Fort on present-day streets.

Col. John F. Hamtramck

Col. John F. Hamtramck

Photos courtesy of Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society and ARCH Inc.

Resources:

  • John Ankenbruck, 20th Century History of Fort Wayne (1975), p.50.

  • The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Group, ARCH Inc., Essex Group, Inc., On The Heritage Trial, Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Walking Guide Book (1994) pp. 39-41.

  • David A. Simmons, The Forts of Anthony Wayne.