5th Grade Standards:
8th Grade Standards:
The lessons linked below were created by the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park.
They target grades 3-5, but can be adapted for other ages.
Image from "A Popular History of the United States" by William Cullen Bryant and Sidney Howard Gay (1876).
Ohio Indian Wars Newspaper Activity
Students are to read the piece below and use the information to write a newspaper on the Ohio Indian Wars. They can also research the major figures of the wars and write articles about them. Microsoft Word has a Newspaper Template students can use, or Read Write Think has created a Printing Press template for newspapers, brochures, and flyers. All of the text below is included in the Ohio Indian Wars Newspaper Activity PDF linked below.
After the American Revolution ended, the new United States won not only their independence, but also all of the land up to the Mississippi River. This land needed to be divided into territories that could become new states. One of the first territories settled was Ohio. As more and more people moved west to live in Ohio, the Native American tribes already living there became upset that their land was being taken from them. This led to the Ohio Indian Wars that began in 1791.
The United States government sent the army to Ohio in 1790 but the Americans were defeated by the Indian tribes. The next year, General Arthur St. Clair, Ohio’s governor, led a second army to fight the Indians, but they were not well trained and were badly beaten. Over half of St. Clair’s men were killed or wounded.
Even though they had been beaten twice before, President George Washington sent another army, this time led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne to Ohio to defeat the Native Americans. General Wayne spent two years drilling and training his men before taking them into battle.
The Battle of Fallen Timbers
In 1794, General Wayne and his army marched from Cincinnati to northern Ohio near Toledo. A tornado had recently gone through the area and knocked down many trees. Little Turtle, The Crane, Blue Jacket, and their warriors hid behind the fallen trees, and this battle became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The fight between the American army and the Indians lasted for only one hour, and the well-trained Americans finally defeated the Indians. The Treaty of Greenville was signed the following year in 1795, forcing the Native Americans to give up much of their land. Ohio was now safe enough for settlement.
Portrait of General Anthony Wayne by James Sharples, Sr. (1795).
Write a Newspaper
Students can be put into small groups to create a newspaper, or assign an article to a pair or trio of students.
Review primary vs. secondary sources- you could show some newspapers from the 1700s vs. newspapers from today. Have students list the similarities and differences.
Brainstorm some names for your newspaper:
Daily, Post, Weekly, Herald, Times, Press…
Guide the activity by saying, “Imagine you are a news reporter from the year 1795. Report on the Ohio Indian Wars in your newspaper. You could describe a battle, write an account from the perspective of a person living in Ohio, or write a biographical article about an important figure in the wars.
Use the template or create your own! (Word has newspaper templates, and Docs has newsletter templates.)
Publish student news, by photocopying and posting around your school!
Ohio History Central article: Battle of the Fallen Timbers
General Arthur St. Clair
General Anthony Wayne
World Book Student Articles (You can access other articles using World Books Kids, Student, or Advanced, depending on reading level, from InfOhio).
General Anthony Wayne
Battle of the Fallen Timbers
Background information on journalism in the 18th century from Colonial Williamsburg.
Library of Congress collection of 18th century newspapers (Chronicling America)
Copy of the Gazette of the United States, published in Philadelphia, October 2, 1794. Pages 2- 4 include some information about General Wayne’s victory at the Battle of the Fallen Timbers.
* Be aware that in the 18th century, the letter s sometimes looked like the letter f.
Attack at Big Bottom
In December 1790, a group of 36 settlers traveled up the Muskingum River to an area known as Big Bottom, near present day Stockport in Morgan County and about 40 miles north of Marietta. The name Big Bottom is taken from the wide, fertile flood plain along the Muskingum River. Hoping to lure adventurous homesteaders to their lands, the Ohio Company encouraged the creation of new settlements, sponsoring similar outposts at Belpre, Waterford, and Gallipolis. Putnam and the other leaders of the Ohio Company believed that they had fairly purchased their land from the local Native American tribes, however some of the tribal leaders thought differently. As the pioneers progressed further into the Ohio Territory, the Native Americans felt more and more threatened by the settlers’ move westward as increasing numbers of settlers began to arrive on the fringes of the lands between the United States and the Indian Territory.
Image from "Nights in a Block-House" by Henry Watson (1856).
The Big Bottom settlement consisted primarily of young, unmarried men, although there was at least one family with children there. While they had begun construction on a protective stockade, progress was slow and many of the seasoned soldiers living in Marietta were concerned at the settlement’s lack of fortification. As tensions between the Native Americans and settlers mounted, Colonel William Stacy, a Revolutionary War veteran, ice skated 30 miles up the Muskingum River from Marietta to Big Bottom to warn his sons John and Philip of a potential attack and advised them to add additional guards and fortifications.
On January 2nd, 1791, approximately two dozen Delaware and Wyandot Native Americans attacked the unfinished fort. Despite Colonel Stacy's advice, there were no sentries posted to guard the inhabitants. The settlers were caught completely off guard and 9 men, 1 woman, and 2 children were killed. Five others were taken prisoner, and one of them, 16 year old Philip Stacy, died of illness while in Indian custody. The massacre at Big Bottom triggered a wave of violence between the settlers and Native tribes that resulted in the Ohio Indian Wars which lasted until 1795 and caused dozens of fatalities for both sides.
Rufus Putnam Responds
News of the attack reached Marietta quickly. Asa and Eleazar Bullard lived near the stockade, and were able to escape and sound the alarm at a nearby settlement. Messengers were sent to Waterford and Marietta to enable the settlers to prepare for an attack. A group of men returned to Big Bottom to survey the scene and reported their findings back to the leaders in Marietta. After killing the settlers, the Natives had attempted to burn down the stockade (little more than a house) with the bodies inside, but it failed to completely destroy the building. All of the settlers throughout the territory hurried to the relative safely of the various forts and awaited further attacks.
By January 6th, Putnam was already reaching out to his old friend, President George Washington, for help. The Marietta College Library Special Collections has this letter, but it appears that he sent a different version. The National Archives has a transcript of a letter dated January 8th from Putnam to Washington that is included in a collection of Washington’s papers. It would seem that this version, and not the one dated January 6th, made its way to the president. Washington received the letter on the 24th of January and forwarded it to Congress three days later.
Using the transcriptions provided, compare the two versions of Putnam's letter. What are some similarities? How are the letters different? Why do you think he changed the second draft so radically? A graphic organizer with questions is also linked below.
A digital copy of the January 6th draft is also linked below. Students can discuss their impressions of the physical aspects of the letter as well.
For a more detailed account of the Big Bottom Massacre, see Samuel Hildreth's Pioneer History from 1848. Hildreth was able to interview some of the descendants of the early settlers for the book, and provides an accurate account of the events.
Original Rufus Putnam Letter Draft- January 6th, 1791 (part of Marietta College's Special Collections)
Rufus Putnam Letter- January 8th, 1791 (transcribed by the National Archives)
Here is a free activity from Teachers Pay Teachers (account required).
Lewis and Clark Expedition Journal (Could be modified for the Ohio Pioneers). Suitable for 3rd-6th Grades.