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  • Writer's pictureTedd Long

Fort Meigs

29100 West River Road.

Built as a supply depot and staging point for operations into Canada, and also to provide command of the rapids of the Maumee River, Fort Meigs constitutes the largest wooden walled fortification in North America. Ground was broken on February 2, 1813 under the orders of General William Henry Harrison. Today, a museum and state memorial occupy a 65-acre wooded park featuring the ten-acre fort, its stockade wall, seven blockhouses, five cannon batteries, and numerous interior eight-foot high earthworks.

Fort Meigs survived two sieges by British troops led by General Proctor and the last major Native American confederation led by Tecumseh.  The Americans survived the British bombings by digging  small caves into the fort's earthworks and staying under cover.  Tecumseh left the second siege disgusted that it was impossible to fight people who live like “groundhogs”.

I tell folks interested in learning more about life at Fort Meigs to read the journals of the soldiers who built the fort and lived inside its wooden palisades. An excellent account was chronicled by Captain Daniel Cushing in his personal diary, October, 1812–July, 1813. He recorded the following entry in March 1813, a month in which two to three men were dying every day at the fort due to disease or the elements:

“Our camp is overwhelmed with mud and water...”

One month later, he documented the intensity of the first siege of Fort Meigs on May 1, 1813:

At 2 o'clock in the morning the British opened their artillery upon our garrison from their gun-boats... At 8 o'clock they hoisted the red flag at their lower battery and commenced firing with 24-, 12- and 6-pounders, and eight inch mortars. They fired at us this day 240 shot and shells; did very little damage. They continued firing shells through the night but not often, just enough to keep our camp from rest. We keep up a heavy fire on them all day from different parts of our camp.

Pretty sobering stuff to consider as you walk the peaceful grounds of the fort today. A day trip to Fort Meigs is well worth the time but a few hours reading the journals will help you empathize with the American officers who called the fort “the most disagreeable encampment” they ever experienced.


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1 Comment

Bill Flynn
Bill Flynn
Dec 13, 2018

I am so glad that I found this blog. I grew up in Toledo in the Old West End but traversed the city as a young curious explorer. I have visited Fort Meigs, Side Cut Park, walked the shores of the Muddy Maumee and lived in a housing project in Scott Park. One grandfather retired from the Fire Department after 39 years and the other from the New York Central RR. I love and miss the old ways.

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