Sunday, January 27, 2013

Remembering the War of 1812, River Raisin National Battlefield Park

River Raisin Battlefield

Ever hear of The Star Spangled Banner, Old Iron Sides, 
Old Hickory, and “Don’t Give Up the Ship?”  

For a war that gave us so many famous and influential  moments of our National identity, it is surprising that the War of 1812 has been referred to by many historians as the Forgotten War. With the bicentennial celebration in full swing, it is a great time to rediscover this Forgotten War and visit a War of 1812 historic site. 

And what better place to start than the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in the Old Northwest. 

Banks of the River Raisin
Located just south of Detroit, River Raisin National Battlefield Park is one of the newest additions to the national park system. It is hard to believe that Michigan was once the site of an international battle for global supremacy, but it was! This war pitted American, British, French, Canadian, and Native American forces against each other in a struggle for control of the destiny of North America. 

In the small community of Frenchtown on the banks of the River Raisin, these forces met in what would become the bloodiest battle of the War of 1812.

Battle Flags
On January 18, 1813, militia troops for the U.S. clashed with British forces from Canada at Frenchtown. This battle ended on the same day with a surprising American victory. Four days after their defeat, the British launched a counter attack with their Native American allies and recaptured Frenchtown.

Following the battles of the River Raisin, American wounded were violently slaughtered by these native American forces in the style of the bloody no-quarters warfare that often took place on the American frontier. The battles and their aftermath resulted in the largest number of American fatalities during the War of 1812. These events lead to the American rallying cry, “Remember the Raisin” which could be heard on future battlefields around the Great Lakes.

Skirmish Line 
As Michigan transformed from a frontier outpost into a highly industrialized state, the significance of Frenchtown faded from  public consciousness. 200 years of industrialization took its toll on this historic site which saw the birth of Monroe, Michigan further down river and the construction of a paper mill on this hallowed ground. It was not until recently that historians, community leaders and archeologist rallied to “remember the raisin” once more.

Park Visitor Center
Led by a grass roots effort, this battlefield was reclaimed, the paper mill torn down, and a campaign began to have the site declared a National Park. 
Slowly its burred history was brought back to life. 

The site became a national park in 2009 and entered the system as River Raisin National Battlefield Park. This new park unit will ensure the events of the battle their rightful place in American history while honoring the sacrifices made by those who fought and died on the banks of the River Raisin.   

Sled Cannon

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