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Columbian Tragedy: . . . Official Account of the . . . Soldiers, Who Were Slain . . . in the . . . Indian Battle, November 4, 1791

A broadside of the period described the six-hour battle and rout of the United States Army. It reported a shocking death rate of nearly fifty percent among U.S. troops and officers. In contrast, the American Indian fighters—a confederacy of Miami, Shawnee, and other nations—suffered relatively few casualties.

The Connecticut Historical Society

Columbian Tragedy: . . . Official Account of the . . . Soldiers, Who Were Slain . . . in the . . . Indian Battle, November 4, 1791

St. Clair’s Defeat

The first congressional investigation of the executive branch concerned an American Indian victory in the Northwest Territory. On November 4, 1791, an American Indian confederacy inflicted heavy casualties on United States troops led by Major General Arthur St. Clair. When the House requested documents from the War and State Departments to understand the cause of St. Clair’s defeat, President George Washington initially restricted their access, setting a precedent for executive privilege. After Washington relented, the House committee determined that inadequate equipment and training contributed to the U.S. failure.