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The Battle of the River Raisin

The War of 1812 is a sometimes overlooked period of American History that had major implications upon the future development of the State of Michigan. Two major occurrences of the conflict took place within our borders namely the taking and recapturing of Fort Michilimackinac and the Battle of the River Raisin in Monroe County . This latter battle became a rallying cry for the American soldiers determined to remove the last vestige of English threat to their new nation.

The Battle of the River Raisin, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Frenchtown, occurred in January 1813. Prior to this time French Habitants immigrated to the area and soon recognized the vitality of the river. Soon “ribbon farms” extended well into the interior of the land following the banks of “la Riviere aux Raisins.” Yet, this time period was ripe for conflict.

The British were struggling to keep their dominion over Canada and expand their lucrative trade with the Indians. The Indians were seeking to defend their homeland against the ever encroaching white man hoping to drive him back across the Alleghanies.

The Americans desired to remove foreign intrusions thus allowing settlement and expansion of the Union . The Frenchmen had no real ties to any side. They had been citizens of the United States for a relatively short time and before that were citizens of the British Empire . What mattered most to these individuals were the lands and settlements they desired to maintain in peace and security. Their perceived threat came from the Indians.

The above mentioned battle was one of the most significant of the entire War of 1812. Due to the number of casualties, nearly one-third of General William Henry Harrison's army, he was forced to postpone a winter offensive. Reports of the massacre flooded the nation. In Kentucky , in particular, volunteers flocked to recruiting stations to enlist seeking revenge upon the savages and rallying around the battlecry: “Remember the Raisin!”

The Treaty of Ghent formally ended the War of 1812 and with it removed the last traces of British Imperialism from America . America was free to grow and expand and as migration moved west bringing with it people, commerce, and settlement. Soon states were being added to the nation as Michigan was admitted on January 26, 1837.

The Battle of the River Raisin, known by a few yet affected the many.

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