First Christmas in Greene Ville


GREENVILLE – December 1793, the first Christmas in Greene Ville was a period of hope and resolve, but with little joy and peace. The British had rebuilt their forts on American soil at Detroit and at Miamis near today’s Maumee, Ohio.

The Indian tribes, supported by the British, continued to attack the U.S. Army and settlers, killing from Cincinnati to Fort Jefferson. Fort Greene Ville was begun Oct. 24 as a large staging area for the upcoming campaign to establish a peace treaty with the tribes which had defeated Gen. St Clair on Nov. 4, 1791 on the Wabash River (Ft. Recovery).

On Dec. 20, General Wilkinson’s wife Anne invited General Wayne and his officers to celebrate Christmas with a feast. Wayne declined citing the flu, but actually used his health and Christmas as a diversion to secretly dispatch 300 troops. The troops traveled 23 miles north on Dec. 23 to reclaim the site of St. Clair’s defeat and construct a permanent fort named Fort Recovery; that was Wayne’s Christmas present to the young nation.

Wayne’s troops started construction on Dec. 24 on the very site of the St. Clair’s defeat which resulted in 900 Americans lost with the few hundred survivors retreating south to Fort Jefferson. Wayne’s Captain Henry Burbeck reported on the battlefield site “had a very melancholy appearance, nearly in the space of 350 yards lay 500 skull bones; from thence for five miles, and the woods, was strewn skeletons, muskets, &c.”

Gen. Wayne and his officers did feast on Jan. 1, but not at Fort Greene Ville but at Fort Jefferson. Major Buell reported Mrs. Wilkinson served “Bill of fare: roast venison, roast beef boiled, and roast mutton boiled and roast veal boiled and roast turkey and fowls; raccoon, possum, bear meat, pies made of chickens, mince, apples, tarts, &c. Sweetmeats, preserves and jellies, floating island and ice cream; plum pudding and plumb cake, vegetables, a plenty of the best wines, at evening we had tea and coffee in high style.” Gen. Wayne and his officers returned to Greene Ville after dark.

Friends of Fort Jefferson www.fortjefferson.org