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War of 1812

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Battle of River Raisin
January 22, 1813

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From the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

Submitted by Debbie Quinn

During the War of 1812, General William Henry Harrison's Northwest Army divided to march by three routes through Ohio and Indiana in hopes of reuniting on the Maumee River (northern Ohio) to attack British forces stationed in Detroit. One of the divisions, made up of 700 Kentuckians, ignored orders and decided to pursue food and shelter from the frigid weather. The division, under Brigadier General James Winchester, captured an enemy store in Frenchtown on the River Raisin and set up camp. In a poor defensive position, the division was massacred by a surprise attack of 1,200 Britons and 1,400 Indians under British General Henry Proctor. The Kentuckians were pummeled by British artillery, and then attempted to flee but were hunted through the woods by the Indians. Over 400 Kentuckians died; 80 wounded were left behind to face the tomahawks of the Indians. Only 15 to 20 wounded Kentuckians managed to escape and survived.
The Battle of River Raisin was the largest battle ever fought on Michigan soil, and concluded a streak of U.S. setbacks during the early months of the War of 1812. Among the casualties, nine Kentucky officers died. These officers were honored by the government of Kentucky by naming nine counties after them.

Lt. Col. John Allen Allen County
Bland W. Ballard Ballard County
Capt. John Edmonson Edmonson County
Maj. Benjamin Franklin Graves Graves County
Capt. Nathaniel G.T. Hart Hart County
Capt. Paschal Hickman Hickman County
Virgil McCracken McCracken County
Capt. James Meade Meade County
Capt. John Simpson Simpson County

In 1813, U.S. forces re-entered Michigan and using the battle cry "Remember the Raisin!" defeated and drove the British out of the territory.


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