Saturday, October 15, 2011

My 1794 S-71 large cent, contemporary with The Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20, 1794)

1794 S-71 large cent obverse

1794 S-71 large cent reverse
Edge lettering on 1794 S-71 large cent

As a fairly low-budget early U.S. coin collector, my acquisition of a 1794 large cent was quite a thrill.  I opted for something that wasn't too beaten up or corroded, but yet I needed to find something that wouldn't break the bank and would fit my personal finances.  Since I grew up approximately 40 miles from the site of The Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20, 1794), which is in the present-day city of Maumee, Ohio, getting a relatively affordable coin of this date had some real significance to me.  The really neat thing about these large cents is that they represent a true piece of history certainly handled by Revolutionary War veterans during their circulation; their incuse edge lettering stating "one hundred for a dollar"; their substantial diameter size, weight and heft; and the beauty of the design of Liberty on the obverse as well as the wreath on the reverse.  Once I figure out how to get photos up on this site, I will post photos of my large cent.   Mine cost me about $425 in trade value of other U.S. coins I had; no small purchase for my economics.  But lesser graded samples or samples with a few problems can be had for cheaper.  This is a S-71 variety, which is an R2 in terms of rarity, fairly common.  It has a few little problems including a little rim ding below the 4 and some pitting original to the planchet (common in copper from this era, some of which supposedly came from copper hoops around barrels of gunpowder or which sat in the soggy bottoms of ships), but has a really nice original color and patina and some interesting die clashing near the throat. 

The Battle of Fallen Timbers has been called the “last battle of the American Revolution” and one of the three most important battles in the development of the United States. The decisive victory by the Legion of the United States over a confederacy of Native American tribes opened the Northwest Territory, a huge region unceded by the native inhabitants, for westward expansion and led to the eventual establishment of 5 states and specifically Ohio’s statehood in 1803.   The summary below is pretty brief, but if you would like more details, the following links to other blogs cover The Battle of Fallen Timbers in more extensive detail:

"Charge of the Dragoons at Fallen Timbers" by R. T. Zogbaum, ca. 1895

The battle took place amid trees toppled by a tornado just north of the Maumee River in the present-day city of Maumee.  There is an eponymous "Fallen Timbers" shopping center directly across the street from the battle site; a nearby monument marks where earlier experts believed the battlefield to be until a relatively recent (1995) archaeological survey and work by Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio proved them wrong and uncovered the site adjacent to the shopping center:

Battle of Fallen Timbers Monument
The Greenville Treaty
To General Anthony Wayne who organized the “Legion of the United States” by order of President Washington and defeated Chief Little Turtle’s warriors here at Fallen Timbers August 20, 1794. This victory led to the Treaty of Greenville, August 3, 1795, which opened much of the present state of Ohio to white settlers.

(Right Side)
Indian Warfare
In memory of the white
settlers massacred 1783-1794
(Left Side)
Onward in peace
To the pioneers of Ohio
And the great northwest
The Battle of Fallen Timbers
To Chief Little Turtle and his brave Indian warriors

The Legion of the United States was commanded by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, a veteran of Valley Forge handpicked by President Washington to oversee the new nation’s first professional army. Wayne’s force, made up of 1,600 to 1,700 “regulars” and 1,500 members of the Kentucky Militia, was recruited and formed in Pittsburgh, underwent drill and combat training at Wayne's camp Legionville near present-day Baden, Pennsylvania (northeast of   Pittsburgh), then marched and quartered at Fort Washington in Cincinnati, then marched north from Cincinnati to build a series of forts between the Ohio and Maumee rivers. Among Wayne’s officers was 21-year-old General William Henry Harrison, who would win the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indiana in 1811, and ultimately become (very briefly) the ninth president of the United States.

Waiting for Wayne and his men were about 1,000 warriors representing the native confederacy and led by Miami war chief Little Turtle, an old nemesis of the United States. Other leaders of the confederacy included Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket and Delaware Chief Buckongahelas. One of the most famous leaders of the native resistance, Tecumseh, also took part in the battle.

Fewer than 100 men on each side died in the brief battle, but the Legion’s victory marked a major turning point in the battle for the western frontier. The victory led to the signing the Treaty Greenville on August 3rd, 1795. Without the treaty, portions of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin might have remained a buffer zone between Indian and settled territory, or even become part of British-controlled Canada.



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