Yet, as renowned Native American historian Colin Calloway demonstrates here, St. Clair's Defeat--as it came to be known-- was hugely important for its time. It was both the biggest victory the Native Americans ever won, and, proportionately, the biggest military disaster the United States had suffered. With the British in Canada waiting in the wings for the American experiment in republicanism to fail, and some regions of the West gravitating toward alliance with Spain, the defeat threatened the very existence of the infant United States. Generating a deluge of reports, correspondence, opinions, and debates in the press, it produced the first congressional investigation in American history, while ultimately changing not only the manner in which Americans viewed, raised, organized, and paid for their armies, but the very ways in which they fought their wars.
Emphasizing the extent to which the battle has been overlooked in history, Calloway illustrates how this moment of great victory by American Indians became an aberration in the national story and a blank spot in the national memory. Calloway shows that St. Clair's army proved no match for the highly motivated and well-led Native American force that shattered not only the American army but the ill-founded assumption that Indians stood no chance against European methods and models of warfare. An engaging and enlightening read for American history enthusiasts and scholars alike, The Victory with No Name brings this significant moment in American history back to light.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-08-25
- Reviewer: Staff
In this compact story centering on a single battle, historian Calloway (The Scratch of a Pen) puts a new spin on the old adage about the winners writing history. St. Clair’s Defeat, or the Battle on the Wabash, was a vital 1791 military confrontation between Native Americans in northwestern Ohio and a still green U.S. Army, which has been all but written out of history books by its loser, the United States. The battle was widely written about in its day, analyzed for what it meant in terms of the very survival of a new country still threatened by not only the indigenous population but the land-grasping English and Spanish. Calloway crisply covers the battle in one chapter, framing it as part of a larger conflict over real estate that played out in the Ohio country during 1790–1791. This single issue—land ownership—drove an irreconcilable wedge between Native Americans and whites, cutting off any hope for interracial community and cooperation. Though this emphasis on land conflict isn’t new, Calloway presents keen observations on the link between business interests and the government’s land policy that, underpinned by its racial assumptions, made Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s 1791 defeat a complex event. B&w illus. (Oct.)