Friday, November 4th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Overseas author pens story of historical Fort Recovery battle
FORT RECOVERY - An early book release and scheduled appearance of its author this weekend underscores the continued recognition of Fort Recovery as a place of great historic importance.
This time, the acknowledgment is coming from overseas.
Osprey Press of Oxford, England, and Yale-educated author John F. Winkler will release "Wabash 1791: St. Clair's Defeat" this weekend on the 220th anniversary of the battle.
The book details the historical campaign of 1791 in northwest Ohio where the U.S. Army strove to take control of the area between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, a precursor to future westward expansion of the country, according to a press release.
"At the battle of the Wabash, also known as St. Clair's Defeat, more Americans died than in any prior battle, more than would fall on any field before the Civil War," the release states. "In the tactical masterpiece of their military history, an Indian army destroyed a force that was larger, encamped on a high ground, supported by artillery and led by many of the best American officers of the Revolutionary War."
The Fort Recovery Historical Society and Osprey Press are sponsoring events this weekend.
Local educators will attend an in-service at the museum on Saturday conducted by Winkler. He will offer details of the historical campaign that will include a two-hour battlefield walk of the sites where roughly 600 soldiers and up to 250 women and children died.
Winkler also will explain the strategies of the Indian Confederation led by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket, according to the release.
A private reception, to be attended by museum patrons, Ohio Historical Society officials and other dignitaries, will be held.
On Sunday, a second battlefield tour for 25 invited people is planned. Two formal presentations by Winkler are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the museum at no cost to the public. Signed copies of Winkler's book will be available for purchase.
"I think it should be quite a significant event for the community of Fort Recovery," museum director Nancy Knapke said.
Knapke said the author and Osprey Press thought it would be neat to release the book near the actual site of the bloody battle. The national release of the book is the end of the month.
"So they called us and asked if we thought that would work," she said. "We jumped right on that. We were surprised and thrilled."
The international recognition is a great thing for the community, she added.
Also, Peter Dennis, an artist from Nottinghamshire, England, donated three original watercolor paintings created for the book to the Fort Recovery Historical Society. They were auctioned in October.
Vern Mescher, representing the Fort Recovery VFW, submitted the winning bid of $2,750 for the paintings before donating them to the historical society and museum, where they are on display.
The area now known as Fort Recovery has been featured in several books the last few years.
Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist and professor William Heath in 2008 promoted his historical novel entitled "Blacksnake's Path: The Adventures of William Wells," in Fort Recovery, and said anyone slightly interested in American history should visit the village.
He also said U.S. Gen. Arthur St. Clair's defeat in 1791 at Fort Recovery was one of the nation's worst military fiascoes, three times as disastrous as Custer's Last Stand. The St. Clair story "is so important" to the history of the Northwest Territory, he said.
In 2009, Fort Recovery was visited by a professor from overseas who believes the number of casualties from the battle may have been intentionally underestimated by the U.S government. He and seven of his students from the University of Oulu, Finland, came to research Indian battlegrounds.
For information about this weekend's events, visit www.fortrecoverymuseum.com.
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