Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Battle of the River Raisin - January 22, 1813

"Remember the River Raisin" is the battle cry we remember today on the 206th anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Frenchtown or River Raisin.  This battle from the second year of the War of 1812 is located in Monroe, Michigan, near the banks of Lake Erie between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio.  The River Raisin National Battlefield Park has the distinction of being the only land battle found in the Northwest Territory to receive this recognition, with that honor only established as recently as 2010. The nearest battlefields of equal import are all administered by state park systems or in Canada, including Fort Mackinac in Michigan, Tippecanoe in Indiana and Moraviantown in Ontario.

National Park - Monroe, Michigan

River Raisin Battle Line

The 2nd Battle of Frenchtown was the final action in a series of skirmishes taking place from January 18-23, 1813. Detroit had surrendered to the British and William Henry Harrison launched a winter campaign to retake that strategic location. Moving from Ohio toward Detroit, an advance American force had pushed into Frenchtown on the 18th in what is considered the First Battle the River Raisin.  On the 22nd the British, Canadian, and Native American combined forces counter-attacked the poorly prepared and inexperienced United States defenders. This surprise morning attack took the Americans under fire from three sides and they were soon routed.  Despite a heroic and disciplined stand by the Kentucky Rife units on the American side, all forces were persuaded to surrender. The prisoners were marched off to Canada, but the wounded were largely left behind. On January 23, the Native Americans raided Frenchtown, killing the wounded and setting fire to many of the buildings in what would be know as the River Raisin Massacre.

2013 Bicentennial Event

This incident shocked a young nation and the headlines screamed "Remember the River Raisin!" This rallying cry outraged public opinion and fueled enlistment drives for the American militia, setting a precedent for future U.S. public responses to similar military events such as "Remember the Maine!" from the Spanish-American War or "Avenge Pearl Harbor!" from World War II. As one of American's "forgotten wars" the War of 1812 and the Battle of Frenchtown are likewise largely overlooked in the historical boardgaming community.  The 200th anniversary did see the publication of two games that encompass the events at the River Raisin, albeit at a strategic scale. Clash of Arms Games "Amateurs To Arms!" is a card driven game that examines the entire war at a grand strategic level. GMT's "Mr. Madison's War," also a card driven design, focuses on the operations conducted along the Great Lakes.

Michigan Territory - Amateurs To Arms!

Frenchtown - Mr. Madison's War

1 comment:

David said...

I'm glad that *someone* remembered to remember the Battle of the River Raisin.