Fort Meigs - Perrysburg
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Fort Meigs - Perrysburg

On May 1, 1813, 1,200 British allied forces, under General Henry Proctor and Tecumseh, opened a bombardment of Fort Meigs and laid siege. Reinforcements reached the fort on May 4, increasing its militia to 2,800. Early on the morning of May 5, a detachment from Clay’s brigade under Colonel William Dudley landed from boats on the north bank of the river, stormed the British batteries on the north bank, and spiked the guns. Coming under fire from Indians in the woods, part of the Kentuckian force pursued Tecumseh’s men, who led them deeper into the forest. In the woods, the disorganized Kentuckians suffered heavy casualties in confused fighting. Nearly 550 were captured, and of Dudley’s 866 officers and men, only 150 returned to the fort. This became known as “Dudley’s Massacre” or “Dudley’s Defeat”.

The Shawnee and other warriors attacked wood-gathering parties sent out from the fort. Harrison held out against the British by using a pair of 14-foot high embankments thrown up inside the walls along the length of the interior to absorb the incoming British shells. Proctor abandoned the siege on May 9, 1813 and retreated to Detroit.

Having mobilized the garrison into an army, Harrison left General Green Clay in command of the fort, much reduced in size from its original layout. In July 1813, the British attempted to appease their allies by again besieging Fort Meigs. The Indians staged a mock battle to lure the garrison out. The Americans, however, saw through the ploy. After the failed siege attempt, the British moved on to Fort Stephenson, where Fremont, Ohio stands today. That attack also failed, causing heavy British losses and forcing their retreat to Canada.