Battle of Fort Dearborn

Date Saturday, August 15, 1812
Weather Warm and sunny - 76 degrees
Location Fort Dearborn (now Chicago), Illinois

British Empire

United States

Belligerents Native Americans, United Kingdom The United States of America
Commanders Chief Blackbird Nathan Heald
Casualties Force: NA
Killed: 0
Wounded: 0
Captured: 0
Force: NA
Killed: 0
Wounded: 0
Captured: 0

The Battle of Fort Dearborn occurred on August 15, 1812, nearFort Dearborn, Illinois Territory (in what is now Chicago, Illinois) during the War of 1812. The engagement followed the evacuation of the fort as ordered by the U.S. General William Hull. Because a number of women and children were killed, this event is sometimes known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

Fort Dearborn's commander Captain Nathan Heald ordered all whiskey and gunpowder to be destroyed so it would not be seized by the local Indian tribes allied with the British, although he had agreed to these terms a few hours earlier. He then prepared to abandon his post. Heald remained at Fort Dearborn until support arrived from Fort Wayne, Indiana, led by his wife's uncle, CaptainWilliam Wells. Captain Heald led out the garrison, comprising 54 U.S. regulars, 12 militia, 9 women and 18 children, intending to march to Fort Wayne. However, about one and a half miles (2 km) south of Fort Dearborn, at about what is now 18th Street and Prairie Avenue, a band of Potawatomi warriors ambushed the garrison. Heald reported the American loss at 26 regulars, all 12 of the militia, two women and twelve children killed, with the other 28 regulars, seven women and six children taken prisoner. The Indians intended to sell the prisoners to the British as slaves. The British purchased the captives and released them immediately afterwards.

Fort Dearborn was burned to the ground, and the region remained empty of U.S. citizens until after the war had ended.

Survivors' accounts differed on the role of the Miami warriors. Some said they fought for the Americans, while others said they did not fight at all. Regardless, William Henry Harrison claimed the Miami fought against the Americans, and used the Fort Dearborn massacre as a pretext to attack the Miami villages. Miami chief Pacanne and his nephew, Jean Baptiste Richardville, accordingly ended their neutrality in the War of 1812 and allied with the British.