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  • Writer's pictureTedd Long

Dudley's Massacre

501 River Road.



Dudley and his officers tried vainly to stop them, but their efforts were futile, and they joined the fray. Once they reached the area where the Maumee Library now stands, the British and Native Americans set their trap and counterattacked.

Dudley's defeat or “Dudley's Massacre,” occurred during the first siege of Fort Meigs during the War of 1812.  On the night of May 4th, about 1,200 reinforcements, consisting mostly of new Kentucky recruits under the command of General Green Clay, approached the fort. The fort's commander, General William Henry Harrison, sent ahead instructions to Clay to wait for dawn and then send a detachment of 800 of his men to surprise attack the British batteries on the left bank of the river, opposite Fort Meigs and have the rest of the troops fight their way into the fort to reinforce the garrison. The objective of the surprise attack was to spike the cannons and hurry to the safety of Fort Meigs before British reinforcements could arrive from Fort Miamis. "Spiking" refers to rendering a cannon unusable or inoperable by hammering a metal spike or rod into its firing mechanism or barrel. This was a common tactic used during the War of 1812 to disable enemy artillery or to prevent one's own cannons from falling into enemy hands.

 

Colonel William Dudley led the detachment charged with spiking the cannons. At dawn, he and his troops attacked the British battery and successfully disabled the cannons. However, instead of returning to the fort as ordered, many of the raw recruits, exhilarated by their success, pursued some straggling Native Americans into the forest. Dudley and his officers tried vainly to stop them, but their efforts were futile, and they joined the fray. Once they reached the area where the Maumee Library now stands, the British and Native Americans set their trap and counterattacked.  A fierce battle ensued, lasting several hours. The Americans attempted to retreat toward the river but found themselves cut off.  


When the battle was over, about 220 of Dudley's men lay dead, while 350 were captured. About 200 made their way across the river and back to Fort Meigs. Colonel Dudley was killed during the battle and scalped.  Many of the Kentucky soldiers who survived the trap were taken prisoner and marched back to Fort Miamis, where they were forced to run a gauntlet until Tecumseh stopped the carnage and had his famous exchange with Proctor.


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