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Tribute to River Raisin

Fourth of July, 1872, veterans of the River Raisin gathered in Monroe as guest of the city.  It was promised by city officials that a monument would be erected.  Harry Conant, president of the monument commission and along with the work of the Civic Improvement Society, September 1, 1904 was chosen as the day for dedication of the long awaited monument to these brave Kentuckians.

On Thursday, September 1, 1904,  sixty-two years after the Raisin, Monroe, Michigan unveiled a monument erected to the Kentucky soldiers who were massacred in the War of 1812.  Many distinguished Kentuckians were invited guest of Monroe.  The Mayor, Honorable V. Sisung delivered the opening welcome and Colonel Bennett Y. Young of Louisville, Kentucky delivered the address. Other speakers were: Thomas T. Crittenden, formerly of Kentucky and one time Governor of Missouri and grandson of John Allen, who was killed in the battle, Governor Bliss of Michigan; U.S. Senator, J. C. Burrows and Secretary of State, H. V. McChesney.

Residents of Frankfort and Central Kentucky answered the call to protect the village of Frenchtown, sixty miles south of Detroit on the River Raisin.  One regiment was commanded by Colonel John Allen, a lawyer from Shelby County, Kentucky. The second regiment was under the command of Colonel William Lewis, of Jessamine county.  General Proctor, commanded the British regulars. At first light on January 22, 1813, the famous Indian Chief, Tecumseh, with his men attacked the Kentuckians  A large number of men were captured, including General Winchester and Colonel Lewis.  The sick and wounded were allowed to remain without shelter or protection from the pounding rain. About 200 savage Indians killed the wounded, scalped the helpless and burned houses. The remains of those killed in the open were denied burial and and left for wild animals. What remained of the bodies was buried during the following summer. Later in the fall, some of the bones were found uncovered and had to be buried again. Captured prisoners, being marched to Ambersburg, died and their bodies left in the snow.  

When the news of the massacre reached Kentucky, Kentuckians demanded revenge.  The bones buried on the battlefield were moved to Monroe in 1836 and later taken to Detroit.  In 1842, they were brought back to Kentucky and buried in the State lot at Frankfort.

A historical museum is now located at the River Raisin battlefield in Monroe, Michigan. The following may be of benefit to anyone researching this battle.

River Raisin Battlefield Visitor Center
1403 E. Elm Street
Monroe, MI  48162
734-243-7136 or 734-240-7780

Monroe County Historical Museum

Historic Monroe County

The Historical Society Register


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