Not long after the War of 1812 began, George Croghan became commander of Fort Stephenson. Located on the Sandusky River, the fort was important to Ohio's defense against the British. The fort consisted of three blockhouses inside of a rectangular stockade. Croghan worked hard to increase the fort's defensive capabilities. General William Henry Harrison believed that the fort was located at a precarious position and ordered that Croghan abandon it, but Croghan argued that, if his forces withdrew, Native Americans would cut his men off from the rest of the army.
Before the two men could resolve their differences, British troops attacked the fort. Despite the fact that Croghan had only approximately 150 troops under his command, the Americans were successful in holding off the British assault. In fact, Croghan's men were so successful that they crippled the British forces -- not one officer was left standing, and one-fifth of the English soldiers were either killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Americans forced their enemy to withdraw from the area. The victory at Fort Stephenson came at an important time during the war, as the United States had few military successes. In addition to raising American morale, it also made Croghan famous across the country. President James Madison promoted him to the rank of lieutenant colonel as reward for his service. Years later, the United States Congress voted to award him a gold medal for his success during the War of 1812.