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Autumn of the Black Snake:The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West

William Hogeland

In 1791, the United States found itself losing an escalating military conflict with the indigenous people of the Ohio Valley, who saw the new nation as a threat to their existence. Years of skirmishes and raids climaxed in the grisly defeat of a motley crew of American militiamen by a confederation of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Indians. President George Washington decided that the United States needed its first army, and along with Alexander Hamilton, outmaneuvered Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other skeptics to appoint General “Mad” Anthony Wayne to lead the new Legion. Wayne then marched into the forests of the Old Northwest, where the Indians he defeated gave him the name "Black Snake" with grudging admiration.