From Alan Gaff, author of the highly acclaimed Bayonets in the Wilderness, comes the real story of this stunning defeat against the Native American nations in the Northwest Territory. In three hours on the morning of November 4, 1791, General Arthur St. Clair lost one half of his soldiers as well as his reputation.
November 4, 1791, was a black day in American history. General Arthur St. Clair’s army had been ambushed by Native Americans in what is now western Ohio. In just three hours, St. Clair’s force sustained the greatest loss ever inflicted on the United States Army by Native Americans—a total nearly three times larger than what incurred in the more famous Custer fight of 1876. It was the greatest proportional loss by any American army in the nation’s history. By the time this fighting ended, over six hundred corpses littered an area of about three and one half football fields laid end to end. Still more bodies were strewn along the primitive road used by hundreds of survivors as they ran for their lives with Native Americans in hot pursuit. It was a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for George Washington’s first administration, which had been in office for only two years.
Alan D. Gaff received a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1979 and a master’s degree in American history from Ball State University in 1980. A lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he retired from the United States Postal Service in 2009 after nearly thirty years of service. Since 1984, Mr. Gaff has been President of Historical Investigations a research firm specializing in history, archaeology, and environmental research. Successful and respected authorities on American military history, Alan and his wife Maureen have authored and edited eleven books. On Many a Bloody Field was a selection of the History Book Club and a University Press National Bestseller. If This Is War and Our Boys: A Civil War Photograph Album won awards of merit from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Blood in the Argonne: The “Lost Battalion” of World War I was a finalist for the Distinguished Writing Award from the Army Historical Foundation. Gaff and his son Donald have recently edited four books, George Kimball’s A Corporal’s Story, Charles Curtis’ Ordered West, two unique Civil War narratives, Damon Runyon’s Amid the Ruins, and James Freaner’s From the Halls of the Montezumas. In March of 2018 Alan was honored with the Distinguished Scholar Award from Lourdes University.