Battle of Frenchtown

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The situation of the troops before the Battle of Frenchtown

The Battle of Frenchtown (also known as the Battle of the River Raisin ) of January 22, 1813 between British-Canadian and American forces took place in the United States in the state of Michigan during the British-American War and ended in a British victory.

After the surrender of Detroit to the British in the summer of 1812 , President James Madison transferred command of the American Northwest Army to William Henry Harrison , who had distinguished himself in 1811 with the victory of Tippecanoe over the Shawnee . He was one of the few competent commanders in the US Army in the early stages of the war. In January 1813, Harrison launched a winter offensive to retake Detroit. As the vanguard, he sent a unit of untrained regular soldiers and militiamen from Kentucky of a total of 934 men under Brigadier General James Winchester , which was to set up a camp on the Maumee Rapids (now Perrysburg , Ohio ) as a base for the campaign. Contrary to Harrison's orders, but at the request of locals whose homes had been occupied by British and Indians, Winchester pushed forward to the small town of Frenchtown (now Monroe , Michigan ) and on January 18, 1813, drove a small British division from there.

As soon as Colonel Henry Procter , the British commander in the area, found out about this, he gathered all available forces, about 500 soldiers from Fort Malden and about 700 Wyandot Indians under War Chief Roundhead . Because the Detroit River was frozen, the British and Indians were able to cross it, taking artillery with them, and advance to Frenchtown via Brownstown (now Trenton , Michigan ). At dawn on January 22nd, with artillery support, they attacked the surprised Americans, who were handicapped by the fact that Winchester had distributed them all over the place and even taken them up in a comfortable farmhouse outside. The attackers quickly succeeded in rubbing up the right wing of the US troops, and the rest of them offered fierce resistance. In the meantime, Winchester had been awakened by the noise of the battle, but fell into the hands of the Indians while trying to reach his troops. He then ordered the surrender of his unit to avoid a massacre. Only 23 US soldiers escaped death or captivity.

Since Procter feared a counterattack from Harrison, he withdrew with his soldiers and the prisoners to Brownstown. However, the British had to leave the American wounded behind because there weren't enough sleds to transport them. They were placed under Indian guard. Procter later claimed that he wanted to get them the next day, but by then the Indians had murdered between 30 and 60 of them. The incident soon became known in the USA and propagandistically exaggerated as the River Raisin Massacre . For the remainder of the war, the Remember the River Raisin slogan became a battle cry from the Kentucky militia. Winchester's irresponsible behavior aroused the anger of the people in the border region and contributed significantly to fomenting aversions to the army, which was - and not without justification - believed to be incompetent.

The defeat at Frenchtown had dire consequences, forcing Harrison to abandon his campaign. Instead, he built Fort Meigs on the Maumee rapids and waited with further offensive efforts until Oliver Hazard Perry had gained control of the lake through the battle of Lake Erie . He then succeeded in defeating Procter in the Battle of the Thames River and eliminating the British presence west of Lake Ontario . Procter was promoted to brigadier general for his victory, but his inability to keep the Indians under control attracted criticism not only from his opponents but also from many of his own officers.

See also: List of Wars , List of Battles

Web links

Commons : Battle of Frenchtown  - collection of images, videos and audio files