Fort Meigs29100 W River RD.
Perrysburg, OH 43551
419-874-4121 | http://www.fortmeigs.org
Northwest Ohio's Role in the War of 1812
The history of Fort Meigs helped shaped Northwest Ohio’s demographic and developed landscape. The fort and museum offer audiences an immersive learning experience and unique perspective of events that occurred more than 200 years ago.
During the War of 1812, Americans fought to protect their power on two fronts: land and water. Initially in the late eighteenth century, the war raged between European powers over access and control; but by the turn of the century Britain’s interference of American trade routes led to the entrance of the US into the war. Before President James Madison declared war in 1812, Britain was providing aid to Native American forces attempting to maintain control of lands in the Northwest Territory. Northwest Ohio became one of the most significant and desired regions because of its natural resources and location near Lake Erie and the Maumee River. American armies were sent to Ohio to defend and maintain control of the area. General William Henry Harrison was sent to lead troops in the region. was a war hero in the west, known for his leadership and actions during the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811; his army destroyed the Shawnee village of Prophetstown, weakening the Native American alliance formed against American forces attempting to take land that was granted by the Treaty of Greenville.
After the US entered the war in 1812, President James Madison placed Harrison in command of the Army of the Northwest. By the early months of 1813, the US had experienced defeat against the British and their Native American allies. Harrison stationed his army along the Maumee River, building Fort Meigs in February of that year. By the time construction commenced in April, Fort Meigs was the largest wooden fort ever built in America. The fort served Harrison and his troops through two attacks by British and Native American forces. Harrison’s army was outnumbered, and each battle resulted in devastating bloodshed, but the fort was never taken. Following the second siege, British troops withdrew, and Harrison maintained this strategic position, providing a significant victory for the US during the war. British preoccupation with battles on land during the first half of 1813 led to Commodore Perry’s victory for control of Lake Erie later that year.
Following the war, the fort continued to be used for public demonstrations, political rallies, and soldiers’ memorials. For decades the civic leaders voiced their desire to preserve and memorialize the site, but it was not until the late twentieth century that real efforts were made. In the 1960s and 70s, reconstruction of Fort Meigs began on the site of the original structure to preserve its history for the public. It was rebuilt again 30 years later to include a public educational facility and museum.
Notes for Travelers
Fort Meigs’ significance in the War of 1812 is showcased through the reconstructed historic fort, museum, and public programs that preserve and maintain the legacy of the War of 1812 and Fort Meigs in Northwest Ohio.
Additional ResourcesMen of Patriotism, Courage & Enterprise! - Fort Meigs in the War of 1812, Larry L. Nelson
William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country, David Curtis Skaggs.