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‘Battle of Bushy Run’ a special topic for retired BG teacher Mazzarella PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 26 September 2013 09:54
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Roger Mazzarella gives a lecture on the War of 1812 Thursday evening at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - More than 250 years ago, a battle took place in Roger Mazzarella's back yard. Literally.
Mazzarella and his wife, both of Bowling Green, own a home in Western Pennsylvania near the site of one of the seminal battles in the early days of the American colonies: the Battle of Bushy Run.
Mazzarella spoke about the battle recently at Fort Meigs as part of the annual Bentley Lecture Series.
Bushy Run, taking place Aug. 5 to 6, 1763, helped weaken the famed rebellion of Pontiac and prevented a continued sweep of violence that had threatened settlement in the midwest.
Mazzarella, a former biology and astronomy teacher for Bowling Green City Schools, was familiar with the area, located in Cook Forest, from his childhood. He visited the site as a boy and heard the tales of park rangers who were at the site when Gary Cooper, Boris Karloff, and Paulette Goddard filmed the 1947 movie "Unconquered," which includes the Battle of Bushy Run - in a manner of speaking.
"The movie is a triumph of Hollywod over history, though," he said."
The battle had its origins in the conclusion of the French and Indian Wars, which ended in 1763 with the British holding control of the North America continent east of the Mississippi. However, the British mismanaged the war's aftermath, cutting down too steeply on the number of troops in the area, and paying too little attention to their newfound Indian allies, who the French had kept good relations with.
The Indians were additionally insensed by the influx of colonists into the area.
"There always seemed to be no end to the settlers that were coming from the British colonies."
As a result, a confederation of tribes was formed and planned coordinated attacks on a number of British forts throughout the midwest. The principal chief among them was Pontiac, who was born in Northwest Ohio or southeast Michigan.
Indian attacks, hardly expected by the victorious British, succeeded in attacking, and capturing, a number of fortifications, including Fort Miamis, located at present-day Maumee. Fort Detroit was also besieged.
The British were slow to react, and eventually Fort Pitt - present-day Pittsburgh - was under siege as well. The British foothold in the midwest was in dire threat of being wiped out, as settlers themselves were often massacred.
The British sent Henry Bouquet to relieve the fort with just over 500 men, facing a possible force of Indians many times that, even as "raiding parties ran rampant throughout western and central Pennsylvania."
The Indians converged on Bouquet's force at Bushy Run, a forested area that also featured a large number of hills and varying elevations near the stream that gave the battle its name.
Bouquet suffered significant enough casualties during the first day's fighting that he had no choice but to stand his ground.
During the second day, a feigned retreat on the part of the British, as well as skillful maneuvering, shocked the Indian forces, which fled the area, leaving Fort Pitt unmolested.
British dead were numbered around 50 total, with about 60 wounded. Indian dead are estimated at around 60.
"It was an astonishing blow to the Indians, who were completely unused to sustaining such casualties," said Mazzarella.
Pontiac's rebellion eventually failed entirely three years later, and the chief was murdered in 1769 by another Indian out of revenge.
 

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