Thursday, June 28, 2018

Battle of the Wabash

Old 5th U.S. Artillery Insignia
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So the other day, a new commenter, fellow name of George, pointed out that the U.S. Army had suffered a far worse defeat at the hands of the Native Americans long before Custer met his end on the banks of the Little Big Horn. It involved another river, the Wabash, and it happened not long after the Revolution.

The battle didn't take place in June, nope November, but it was an event I had very little knowledge of. So I decided to remedy that.

In looking for information I stumbled across this video, which is pretty good actually. At first I had a quibble or two with this guy, but I watched the whole thing and he makes a very good case for the Battle of the Wabash being the worst defeat ever suffered by the United States Army.

Seemed kind of a fantastic claim, I mean what about Bataan, Kasserine Pass, the loss of most of the 106th Infantry Division in the Schnee Eifel during the Battle of the Bulge? Well, if you consider the percentage of General St. Clair's force which fell on the Wabash, The History Guy makes a pretty good case.

When you lose 97% of your force killed and wounded, yeah, that's pretty bad. More on that crest above after the video (which I got a tip from in the comments to the video, which are not nearly as bad as some YouTube video comments, in fact these are pretty good for a YouTube video, Hell, they're not bad for any venue really!)



Here's the latest version of the 5th Artillery's coat of arms, yeah, one of that regiment's predecessor outfits was with St. Clair on that November day.
Current Coat of Arms
5th Field Artillery Regiment

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One of the few military insignia that I've seen which commemorates a defeat in addition to successful engagements. A tip of the hat to a valiant opponent? Perhaps, stranger things have happened in war...

I learn something from my readers every day. Thanks for the tip George!



16 comments:

  1. Interesting post, shout out to George for planting the seed. Had never heard of The Battle of the Wabash, learn something new every day. Nice visual enhancements Sarge.

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    1. Thanks Nylon12. A most interesting period in our nation's history, I need to read up more on it. When I do, you'll probably hear of it too.

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  2. They didn’t teach about that one in the eleventh grade and I don’t remember Dr. Haight left it out of his lectures in History 1A.

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    1. Yeah, seems odd as I don't remember it either.

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  3. I once read (I can't remember where) a quote from an assistant to then-president Washington who recalled that the only time he had seen Washington really upset was when he had just received the news of that defeat. Washington had paced around the room, raging at St.Clair, whom he had personally warned to take precautions against a surprise attack. Need I say, it was a surprise attack that caused the defeat?

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    1. From what I've read, St. Clair's force was totally unprepared for the attack. No recon, no sentries posted, it was a complete and total failure of command.

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    2. Washington no doubt had vivid memories of Braddock's defeat on the Monongahela in which he played a key role in organizing a rearguard which allowed the remnants of the rest of the force to disengage. That done despite his not having an official place in the chain of command. BZ! Without his actions, it probably would've been a catastrophe on the same level as Isandlwana.

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    3. I hadn't thought of that Larry, but yes, excellent point.

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  4. Yep, more history than the History Channel. Gah, yet another rabbit hole to fall into on the internet. Thanks, George, for making OldAFSarge get off his duff and find this guy.

    Okay, let's sum up the failures. No scouts, no fortifications, no group of ready troops, ill-equipped, ill-trained, part of force made up of rabble. Oh, and deep into hostile territory, against a prepared and well-equipped enemy who knew the land, did have scouts, and chose the time (and maybe even the place) for battle.

    Analysis... (whirr, whirrrr, click, whirrrrrrr-ptinng.)

    Someone actually got out alive? Wow. Maybe not such a defeat after all.

    And there's something interesting, (replays the video) yep, very interesting. People who tend to lean to port have told me that the 2nd Amendment was what established the Militia as the National Guard. But wait, it was two separate Militia Acts that formed state militias and required 'selective service' registration? Ha. Once again the port-leaners get it wrong in a big, huge, gigantic way.

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    1. Those with a permanent list to port damned near always get it wrong. In my own experience that is...

      Other than No scouts, no fortifications, no group of ready troops, ill-equipped, ill-trained, part of force made up of rabble. Oh, and deep into hostile territory, against a prepared and well-equipped enemy who knew the land, did have scouts, and chose the time (and maybe even the place) for battle. Yeah, St. Clair was totally ready for battle...

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    2. Just like Varus was ready...

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    3. Another great reference, you're on a roll Larry!

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  5. Sounds like the force got wabashed...

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  6. Most interesting are the long-standing rammifications...
    Basically this defeat forced the fledgeling US to create standing army, so loathed by the founding fathers
    American Legion was root of it, first four regiments.

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