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10 Key Events

10 Key Events of Fort Wayne's Past

Compiled by James Conway, Fort Wayne Project Manager/Historian

Circa 1000 CE

Site of Native American Late Woodland Burial Mound - The existing mound was partially excavated in the 1940s but some burials still remain. Extensive documentation and specimens exist at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology. A type of Native American pottery known as “Wayne Ware” was named after the many intact vessels found at the site.


1710-1771

Potawatomi Indian Village Site - A 1768 map in the John Askin Papers at Detroit Public Library’s Burton Collection shows the Fort Wayne site as occupied by a Potawatomi Indian village. This tribe was one of four invited by Antoine Cadillac in 1710 to settle near the fort at Detroit for the French fur trade. During the 1760s British era the village’s leader was Ninivois (Nenewas).


July 5, 1812

Bombardment of Sandwich - This was the first land battle of the War of 1812. The Michigan militia, probably Captain Stephen Mack’s Detroit Militia Battery, fired artillery across the Detroit River from the sand hill of Spring Wells, now the site of Historic Fort Wayne, into the Canadian town of Sandwich, now Windsor.


August 16, 1812

Site of British General Isaac Brock’s Army Invasion of The United States - Shortly after the onset of the War of 1812, General Brock's force of 730 men, accompanied by 600 Native American warriors, crossed the Detroit River and landed at the Springwells sand hill shore (now the site of Fort Wayne) to capture the town and fort of Detroit three miles to the east. Alone in the U.S., Detroit and Michigan were occupied by the forces of Great Britain for 13 months.


September 8, 1815

Site of the Treaty of Spring Wells - This treaty was made between General (later President) William Henry Harrison representing the U.S. government and eight native American tribes which had fought against the U.S in the War of 1812. Michigan Governor Lewis Cass and Judge Woodward were in attendance. Making peace with the former enemy tribes marked the official end of the war.


1842-1851

Construction of Fort Wayne, Principal Michigan Border Defense Against British Canada - The fort was the first major work designed and built by Army Engineer West Point graduate Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs, later Quartermaster General of the entire Union Army. The fortifications are still largely intact.


1861-1865

Principal Camp of Instruction for Michigan Volunteer Infantry and Artillery Troops During the Civil War - Fort Wayne was also the site of the billeting and training of Second Michigan Infantry private Franklin Thompson who was actually Sara Edmonds (Seelye), a woman who served disguised as a man for over two years..

June 1918

Segregated U.S. Army of World War One - Five hundred African American troops were stationed at Detroit’s Fort Wayne during the summer of 1918.


1940-1945

Principal Role in Detroit's "Arsenal of Democracy" - During World War II, Fort Wayne played a key role for Detroit and Michigan in what President Roosevelt termed “the Arsenal of Democracy.” Over two thousand civilian and military staff shipped vehicles and supplies from the Detroit Fort Wayne Ordnance Depot and its port of Detroit and Fairgrounds sites to help win the war.


1987

America’s First Tuskegee Airmen’s Museum - The National Tuskegee Airmen's Museum stands on fort grounds. Exhibits and historic artifacts salute the service and bravery of the first African American U.S. Army aviators of World War II. The Airmen’s local chapter still operates the museum.  

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