The Battle of Frenchtown: River Raisin
American Troops gathered at Maumee Rapids for a campaign to retake the Detroit from the British. America had declared war on the British months before in what would become known as the War of 1812. In August of 1812, Detroit had fallen to British forces. General Winchester had received word that River Raisin settlers were under attack and dispatched over 500 troops to support.
The battle descended into chaos on the banks of the Raisin River and the under trained Kentucky volunteers emerged victorious although 13 were killed and over 50 wounded. Canadian and Native troops fled and the remaining troops joined their compatriots, bringing the troop total to over 100.
The Second Battle
The British Canadian and Native troops were not done yet. They began in earnest planning a counterattack to reclaim the lost land. The counterattack came 4 days later on January 22nd. About 1400 Canadian and Native troops started approaching the camp on the banks of River Raisin. The Americans spotted the approaching troops and fired, killing one approaching Canadian.
The Canadians quickly charged towards Frenchtown only to be repelled. But this would not be the last of their onslaught. The Canadians re-aimed the artillery at the American flank and tearing through the militia who were gathered there sending people into disarray. The Americans tried to hold as Canadians and Native troops stormed through the ranks, but they could not do so.
The Americans overwhelmed at various sides and the retreat across the river was frantic. Several hundred troops were caught up in the rout, with over 200 being killed and about 150 captured. The Americans had no choice but to surrender to the British troops. Although the victory was short lived as the British feared reinforcements coming soon.
All in all, of the 1000 American troops, nearly all were injured, maimed, or captured. It wasn’t until months later in September of 1813, that River Raisin and Frenchtown was retaken by American Troops
The River Raisin National Battlefield
River Raisin National Battlefield located in Southeast Michigan protects this battlefield that was called a “National Calamity” by both the commanding officer and the president. River Raisin National Battlefield is the only War of 1812 battlefield that is protected as a National Battlefield in the United States. The Park was officially added as a National Park Unit in 2010 and protects about 40 acres.
Visitor Center: 333 N Dixie Hwy, Monroe, MI 48162.
The current visitor center is a newer building than the older visitor center close the battlefield. There is a map, a movie you can watch, as well as for more historic Frenchtown and battle sites you can visit.
Hours: The Visitor center and exhibits are open from 10am – 6pm (Summer) and 10am – 5pm (Winter). You can probably visit many of the grounds outside of those hours as long as its not too late.
Fees: The Park is free to visitors.
Website: Official NPS Website
River Raisin is located near the town of Monroe in Southeast Michigan. Getting there is relatively straight forward. However, google maps constantly tried to get me to go across the river to the Visitor Center. Stay on the northside of the river for both the battlefield and the visitor center.