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First Name: Josiah

Last Name: Harmar

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Continental Army (1775 - 1784)

Date of Birth: 10 November 1753

Date of Death: 20 August 1813

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served:
Josiah Harmar

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)


Josiah Harmar
Brigadier General, U.S. Army

Josiah Harmar was born on 10 November 1753 in Philadelphia, PA, and educated at a Quaker school. He started his military career during the American Revolutionary War, receiving a commission as a Captain in 1775. He served under George Washington and Henry Lee during the war and, at its conclusion (by then a Colonel) was chosen by Congress in 1784 to relay the ratified Treaty of Paris (1783) to Commissioner Benjamin Franklin in Paris.

Harmar was the senior officer in the U.S. Army, from 1784-91, and was given command of the First American Regiment in 1784. He signed the Treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, the same year that he ordered the construction of Fort Harmar near Marietta, OH. He also supervised the construction of Fort Steuben near present-day Steubenville, OH. Harmar was promoted to Brigadier General in 1787. Harmar directed the construction in 1789 of Fort Washington at Cincinnati, OH, which was built to protect the settlements in the Northwest Territory. The Fort was named in honor of President Washington.

In 1790, Harmar was sent on expeditions against Native Americans and the remaining British in the Northwest Territory. After a few initial military successes, his force of Federal troops was defeated by a tribal coalition led by Little Turtle, in an engagement known as "Harmar's Defeat;" "Battle of the Maumee;" Battle of Kekionga;" or "Battle of the Miami Towns." Later, Harmar returned with a somewhat larger force and engaged the coalition, but fought to a draw. Consequently he was relieved of this command and replaced by General Arthur St. Clair.

Harmar was subsequently court-martialed, at his own request, on various charges of negligence, and exonerated by a court of inquiry.

After his retirement from the Army in 1792, Harmar served as adjutant general of Pennsylvania (1793-99).

Death and Burial

Brigadier General Josiah Harmar died on 20 August 1813, at his estate "The Retreat," near Philadelphia. He is buried at Saint James of Kingsessing Churchyard in Philadelphia, PA.

Honoree ID: 2603   Created by: MHOH




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