BAYONETS IN THE WILDERNESS: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest

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BAYONETS IN THE WILDERNESS: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest, Alan D. Gaff, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2004, 419 pages, $39.95.

Given our country's current superpower status, it is sometimes hard for us to grasp that the United States was once a floundering peripheral nation hobbled by political, military, and economic impotence. In Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest, Alan Gaff explores how the nascent nation overcame a series of military disasters to destroy a confederation of Native American tribes (mostly Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, and Wyandot) bent on halting U.S. westward expansion into the Old Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan).

Gaff credits Major General Anthony Wayne with having the leadership ability, intelligence, and iron will to build a trained, disciplined army capable of fighting and winning a war against a growing Indian confederacy. In the wake of Brigadier General Josiah Harmar and Major General Arthur St. Clair's humiliating defeats at the hands of the Indian confederacy in 1790 and 1791, Wayne surmounted conflicting directives from the U.S. War Department; machinations of his subordinate, Brigadier General James Wilkinson; and a host of recruiting and logistical problems to raise his "Legion of the United States" and lead it to victory at Fallen Timbers in August 1794. …