Organized January 8, 1895
By Harrison Scott Baker
Fort Ferree was located in what is now Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, Ohio. Its strategic position was on a bluff overlooking the flood plain of the Sandusky River. The local Elks Lodge is built where the stockade stood and the site continues to have a commanding view of the land below.
The Fort was built in late 1812 by men of the 1st Regiment, 2nd Detachment of the Pennsylvania militia lead by Lieutenant Colonel Joel Ferree, under the direction of General Richard Crooks, who in turn was under the command of General William Henry Harrison. The site had the advantage of a spring for fresh water and was astride the Harrison Trail, a military road that went from Columbus to Fort Stephenson (modern day Fremont, Ohio).
Fort Ferree occupied about two acres of land and was used as a distribution point for food and supplies. Along with the usual military items, the storerooms held several thousand barrels of flour. Four block houses were built and one stood as late as 1850, being used as a jail.
During the War of 1812, General Harrison made this his headquarters for a brief time. In August 1813, General Return Jonathan Meigs encamped about a mile north of the fort on his way to the relief of Fort Meigs. For many years the area where the Ohio militia stayed was known as ‘The Grand Encampment’. After the siege of Fort Meigs was lifted and Colonel George Crogan’s victory over the British at Fort Stephenson, the American troops proceeded no further and returned south.
The graveyard for the fort is believed to have been located about a quarter mile to the West. This area is now built over by the present County Courthouse. During its construction in the 1890’s, human bones were unearthed together with buttons that had the letters ‘US’ on them and rosettes of leather with brass eagles attached.
As part of his preparations to recapture Detroit and invade Canada, General William Henry Harrison built a chain of forts northward, along both the Sandusky River Valley and the Sandusky-Scioto Trail, from what is now Upper Sandusky, Ohio (Fort Ferree), to what is now Tiffin, Ohio (Fort Ball), to what is now Old Fort, Ohio (Fort Seneca), all the way to what is now Fremont, Ohio (Fort Stephenson). These forts were intended to protect the American lines of supply and communication as General Harrison attempted to both position and build up his forces while he was seeking the opportunity for an invasion of British controlled Canada.
Reprinted from the Lake Erie Ledger, March 1997 edition, pages 93 – 93. A publication of the Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Ohio.