Tuesday, September 11, 2012

War of 1812 Road Trip, Day 6 - Part 1 . . . Remember the Raisin!

Remember the Raisin!  That'll be the battle cry for the next couple of posts . . . because we saw so much pertaining to the battle, there will be two entries for River Raisin.  Located in Monroe, Michigan, the River Raisin Battlefield is one of the newest additions to the National Park system.

There were actually two separate engagements in the area . . . the Battle of Frenchtown on January 18,1813, and the Battle of River Raisin a few days later on January 22, 1813.  In an attempt to retake Detroit, Harrison ordered a force (mostly Kentuckians) under Winchester in advance, but Winchester took the initiative without orders and advanced on to Frenchtown.  Here the Kentuckians easily dispersed a smaller force of British and Indians in a brisk engagement.  However, things would be different on the 22nd.     

The display above shows a member of the Kentucky militia in the distance on the ground.  The figure in the middle represents the US 17th Infantry.  And the figure in the foreground represents the Kentucky Rifle Regiment.  Referring to the Kentucky contingent, the information plaque states . . . "These high-spirited troops fought well and inflicted heavy casualties on the British and Canadians, laying down their arms only after being ordered to."

Henry Proctor (apparently also spelled Procter) and the British returned on the 22nd with their Indian allies under Tecumseh.  This time, aided with sled mounted artillery, they surprised the U.S. forces.  Winchester had ignored all warnings of a large British force moving in from the north and failed to adequately place pickets.  

A completely successful surprise attack by the Native Americans coupled with the artillery "consisting of six small cannons, mostly 3-pounders, with some small howitzers" overwhelmed the regulars of the 17th U.S. Infantry.

The marker states:
Elements of the U.S. 17th Infantry were camped in an open field just north of here when the British and Indians launched their surprise counterattack at dawn, January 22, 1813. The Americans held their ground here for 20 minutes before the Canadian militiamen with the British and Indians flanked them, forcing a retreat. Reinforcements arrived from the Kentucky militia camp to the west, but the Americans forces soon found themselves fleeing across the frozen river toward the old road to Ohio. Nearly 400 Americans were eventually swept into this retreat. Later, the British moved their cannon to this site, hoping to surround the Kentucky militia camp, which was still fighting courageously.

The surprise attack came from beyond the tree in the distance in the field above.  This counter attack resulted in the rout of the U.S. 17th Infantry, and eventually the surrender of the Kentuckians.  

The marker states:
In this vicinity and parallel to the driveway, a line of scattered human remains were detected in 2000, which may mark the main skirmish line of the 17th U.S. Infantry. The bodies of those killed lay exposed to the elements for some time after the battle. Eventually, the scattered remains were gathered up and buried at several sites, including Memorial Place on South Monroe Street, where the Kentucky Monument is located. In the 1830's, bodies were removed to military cemeteries in Detroit and Frankfort, Kentucky. Nine counties in Kentucky are named after men who fought at the River Raisin, 8 of whom died here. They are Allen, Ballard, Graves, Edmonson, Hart, Hickman, McCracken, Meade, and Simpson.
Continually throughout the Northwestern Campaigns, it was the poor and inept decisions of the U.S. commanders that directly led to the staggering and unbelievable statistics Kentuckians endured.  Winchester was captured fairly early on in the battle, and was unaware of the situation on the rest of the field and surrendered his whole force.
Actually the Kentuckians had performed very admirably repulsing three Bristish assaults with “coolness and intrepidity.”  One website pertaining to River Raisin states, "The Kentuckians on the left flank suffered five killed and about forty wounded. British losses were a staggering one-third killed and wounded. One British observer later noted that if the Americans had left their fortifications and charged, Proctor’s right flank might have collapsed.”  In fact, when a white flag was presented the Kentuckians were amazed to find out that it was they who were to surrender . . . by orders of  Winchester!  More on this in the second entry for River Raisin . . .
The marker for the First District Court of the Territory of Michigan partly reads "Jereaume's home held wounded American prisoners of war during the Massacre at the River Raisin. In the bitter cold of January 23, 1813 Indian allies of the British scalped those who could not walk and burned the house."

A 1904 monument with the inscriptions . . .
Site of Battles of Jan. 18 - 22.  Gen. Winchester in command, and River Raisin Massacre Jan. 23, 1813.  800 Americans under Cols. Allen, Lewis and Wells fought desperately against 3000 British and Allies under Gen. Proctor.  Forced to surrender, Tho' promised British protection, the prisoners left unguarded were attacked and killed by the Indians.

The marker states . . .
The American Capt. John Woolfolk hid in one of the French homes just east of here during the massacre at the River Raisin, Jan. 23, 1813. Indians searching the settlement found him. They claimed him as their prisoner and forced him to this spot. Powerless, the local French watched as Woolfolk's offer of $1,000.00 for safe passage to the British in Detroit was spurned by the Indians. They shot him and left his body lying in the road.Although the French settlers could not help Woolfolk, they did manage to ransom several other American prisoners with money, horses or other valuables.
Site of an early Indian trading post . . . 

The marker states . . .
The Great Indian Chief Tecumseh headquartered near here for over a month after the unsuccessful British And Indian siege of Fort Meigs in Ohio, July 1813. The British strategy was to use the Indians at the River Raisin to slow down any American invasion of Canada from Ohio. The Indians had to take food and shelter from the settlement when they received no supplies from the British.Tecumseh and his men withdrew to Canada shortly before refugees from the River Raisin led Col. Richard M. Johnson's Kentucky Cavalry into Frenchtown Sept. 27, 1813. It would be five years before the settlement was rebuilt after the devastation of the War of 1812.
The marker states . . .
On this property in 1812 was the trading post of John Anderson, famed Scottish pioneer of the River Raisin.Anderson, Colonel of the Militia in 1812, was taken prisoner at Detroit, later escaped.Mrs. Anderson, alone at the time of the River Raisin massacre, successfully defied frenzied Indians who invaded the premises and lapped from the basement floor whiskey which she had emptied from the barrels. Mrs. Anderson sat defiantly upon the family money chest as the savages threatened her with upraised tomahawks. "Shame, so many Indians fight one squaw," Mrs. Anderson cried. Cowed by her words the Indians left and the home was not further molested.

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