George Croghan was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on November 15, 1791. His father had served as an officer in the American Revolution, and his mother was a sister of George Rogers Clark. After attending the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Croghan joined the army in 1811. He quickly saw military service, participating in the Battle of Tippecanoe and the siege of Fort Meigs.
Not long after the War of 1812 began, George Croghan became commander of Fort Stephenson. Located on the Sandusky River, the fort was important to Ohio's defense against the British. The fort consisted of three blockhouses inside of a rectangular stockade. Croghan worked hard to increase the fort's defensive capabilities. General William Henry Harrison believed that the fort was located at a precarious position and ordered that Croghan abandon it, but Croghan argued that, if his forces withdrew, Native Americans would cut his men off from the rest of the army. Before the two men could resolve their differences, British troops attacked the fort. Despite the fact that Croghan had only approximately 150 troops under his command, the U.S. forces were successful in holding off the British assault. In fact, Croghan's men were so successful that they crippled the British forces; not one officer was left standing, and one-fifth of the English soldiers were either killed, wounded, or missing in action. The U.S. forces made their enemy withdraw from the area. The victory at Fort Stephenson came at an important time during the war, as the United States had few military successes to that point in the conflict. In addition to raising U.S. morale, it also made Croghan famous across the country. President James Madison promoted him to the rank of lieutenant colonel as reward for his service. Years later, the United States Congress voted to award him a gold medal for his success during the War of 1812.
Croghan continued to serve in the military after the War of 1812 ended. In 1824, he became postmaster of the city of New Orleans, but the following year he was appointed inspector general of the army. During the Mexican War, Croghan served with General Zachary Taylor. Once the war ended, Croghan was stationed in New Orleans. He died of cholera there on January 8, 1849. Although originally buried in a family cemetery near Louisville, Croghan's remains were moved to the site of Fort Stephenson in 1906, and a granite memorial covered his grave.