Saturday, January 19, 2013
200th of the Battle of River Raisin
The monument in Monroe, Michigan, to the men from Kentucky that fought and died at the Battles of River Raisin or Frenchtown in January 1813AD.
As we recall the 200th anniversary of the events of the War of 1812, this weekend we mark the next phase of fighting in the Michigan Territory, this just south of Detroit near Monroe, Michigan.
An American army sought to recapture Detroit and the portions of the Michigan Territory lost to the British and their Canadian allies the previous year. In overall command was US General William Henry Harrison for the Americans and General Henry Proctor for the British.
On 18 January 1813, a portion of the American column of US General James Winchester, under the command of Lt. Colonel William Lewis, clashed with a small British force at the Battle of Frenchtown, or First River Raisin, capturing Frenchtown, now Monroe, scattering the smaller British force.
The British under Proctor replied, with a force of both British and Indian troops, counterattacked on 22 January 1813 at the Second Battle of River Raisin, this time dealing a stinging defeat to the column of Winchester. The two armies involved had around 1,000 troops. US General Winchester was captured early in the fight, and was compelled to command his force to surrender, and over 500 men did so. A large portion of Winchester's force were men from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Here is an account of the two actions in the area of Frenchtown, Michigan Territory that January 1813: http://www.riverraisinbattlefield.org/the_battles.htm
The British, having captured so many Americans, tried to withdraw back towards Detroit before Harrison could reply with his half of the American army -- but in the retreat, the Native Allies of the British massacred a portion of the wounded American prisoners -- the River Raisin Massacre -- this on 23 January 1813.
Here is the local website of the Battlefield: http://www.riverraisinbattlefield.org/
Here is the National Park Service site for the Battlefield Park: http://www.nps.gov/rira/index.htm
In the end, another American military operation on the Michigan front failed, and Detroit remained in British hands. The land war along the border with Canada has, to this point in the war, been a dismal performance for the United States.
It seems that nine counties in Kentucky bear the names of veterans that fought at the battle, as the historical sign pictured belows explains, with eight of them not surviving the battle. These are:
Allen Co., Ballard Co., Graves Co., Edmonson Co., Hart Co., Hickman Co., McCracken Co., Meade Co., and Simpson Co., Kentucky.