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BRITISH PLAN OF BATTLE OF RIVER RAISIN, JANUARY 22, 1813 This photographic copy is believed to be the only map and plan of the battleground in existence, and is taken from the papers accompanying Proctor's official report of the battle, published in Major Richardsons “War of 1812.”
BRITISH FORCES LEAVE AMHERSTBURG-ROUT OF THE AMERICANS-AP
PEARANCE OF PRISONERS—MAJOR RICHARDSON'S NARRATIVE COLONEL PROCTOR'S REPORT-FACTS ABOUT THE BATTLE-GENERAL WINCHESTER'S REPORT-ACCOUNT OF HON. LAURENT DUROCHER-HARRISON TO SHELBY-HARRISON TAKES THE FIELD_TECUMSEH, THE GREAT SHAWNEE.
"Towards the close of the autumn of 1812,” says Major Richardson, f “General Winchester, having established himself at that point of the Miami, whither General Tupper had, on the occasion of Major Muir's retreat from Fort Wayne, been ordered to dislodge us, (British), and thrown up on the right bank of the river a strong fortification, to which, in compliment to the governor of the state of Ohio, the name of Fort Meigs had been given, a detachment consisting of about 50 men under the command of Major Reynolds of the Essex militia, with a three pounder and 200 Indians, were sent to Frenchtown* on the river Raisin, distant eighteen miles from Amherstburg, to watch his movements. Here this little party continued unmolested until the afternoon of the 18th of January, 1813. When Colonel Lewis, who had been detached from General Winchester's division, with an advance guard of nearly 800 men suddenly fell upon them, and notwithstanding a very gallant resistance, in the course of which efficient service was rendered by the three pounder under Bombardier Kitson of the Royal Artillery, aided simply by a few militia acting as gunners, compelled them to retire across some intermediate open ground to a wood, distant nearly a mile from their original position. Here the enemy were kept in check, not only by the fire from the three pounder, but by a running fusilade from the militia and Indians, chiefly of the Pottawattami tribe. After the conflict had continued at the point upwards of half an hour, Major Reynolds finding himself closely pressed by superior numbers gave up the contest, the Americans suffering him to effect his retreat, without further interruption. In this little affair the British loss was one militiaman and three Indians killed. That of the enemy was much more severe, they themselves admitting twelve killed and fifty-five wounded. Colonel Lewis having established himself in the position sent immediate notices of his success to General Winchester, who, quitting Fort Meigs with the main body of his army, pushed forward with all expedition and effected a juncture with Colonel Lewis on the 20th.
† Major in the British army, in command of a regiment at the Battle of Frenchtown, a historian and author of "History of the War of 1812,” copied from his reports and letters in the Archives at Ottawa, Canada.
* Frenchtown, now the city of Monroe, was so called because of the number of French families settled upon the banks of the river, who built their houses near together, as was usual with French settlers, for mutual protection. The stream was called Sturgeon River by the Indians, because that fish was found there in large numbers; but Riviere aux Raisins, by the French, on account of the abundance of grapes which grew upon its banks.
“The account of the repulse of Major Reynolds having reached Amherstburg in the course of the night of the 18th, Colonel Proctor, with a promptness and decision which it is to be regretted had not marked his subsequent operations, resolved on an instant to advance upon the captured position before the enemy could have time to fortify it. Accordingly the whole disposable force of the garrison was ordered upon this service, and early on the 19th, leaving a handful of men to occupy the fort, he crossed the Detroit river opposite Amherstburg with a body of 500 troops and militia, 800 Indians under Chief Roundhead (Tecumseh being absent collecting reinforcements) with three three-pounders. The different vessels being laid up for the season, parts of their crews were ordered to serve with the artillery, and the two companies of Newfoundland Fencibles, attached to the brigade.
BRITISH FORCES LEAVE AMHERSTBURG
"No sight could be more beautiful," writes Richardson, "than the departure of this little army from Amherstburg. It was the depth of winter, and the river at the point where we crossed being four miles in breadth, the deep rumbling noise of the guns prolonging their reverberations like the roar of distant thunder, as they moved along over the ice, mingled with the wild cries of the Indians, seemed to threaten some convulsion of nature; while the appearance of the troops, winding along the road, now lost behind some cliff of rugged ice, now emerging into view, their polished arms glittering in the sunbeams, gave an air of romantic grandeur to the scene.
“On the night of the 21st, we halted and bivouacked in the open air, about five miles from the enemy's position, with no other protection from the cold than our great coats and the fires which were kindled at our feet. Two hours before dawn we were again upon the advance to the River Raisin, and on the 22d, before daybreak, came within sight of the enemy, occupying the position lately held by Major Reynolds. Such was apparently their feeling of security and consequent negligence, that they had not thrown out a single picket, and our line was actually half formed within musket shot of their defenses.
"The conduct of Colonel Proctor on this occasion has ever been a matter of astonishment to me, and on no one principle that I am aware of can it be satisfactorily accounted for. The Americans were lying in their beds, undressed and unarmed; a prompt and forward movement of the line, either would have enabled us to have taken them with the bayonet at advantage, or to have seized the intermediate close fence forming a parapet from which they shortly afterwards so severely annoyed us. Instead of this he commenced firing his three-pounders in answer to the alarms of the sentinels, who, at length perceiving us, had rapidly discharged their muskets—thus affording them time and facility for arming and occupying the only position from which they could seriously check our advance. Resting their rifles on the breastwork by which they were covered, the Americans fought under every advantage, the dark line of troops before them serving as a point of direction which could not fail to be perceived along the field of snow by which they were surrounded. Much execution was done among the artillery and sea
Singled out by the marksmen, the officers and men of these de
* This, was the fatal blunder, or worse, of General Winchester, which cost so dear in human life and so much in treasure, and misery to the French inhabitants. [There appears to liave been two delinquent generals in this affair] Ed.
partments, placed in front of the line were particularly exposed, and some of the guns were abandoned from want of men to work them. The fire of the enemy was not less galling to the troops, who, falling at every step, continued to advance with the utmost resolution and gallantry.
ROUT OF THE AMERICANS
"The action had continued about an hour, when the American right being entirely broken by the militia and Indians, a movement was made to occupy the ground they had abandoned and to take them in flank. This manæuvre succeeded; a corps of Americans to the number of four hundred threw themselves into the strong block houses they had already constructed since their arrival, where they continued to make an obstinate defence. Meanwhile their right and part of their center closely followed across the ice by the Indians fell almost unresisting victims to the ferocity of their pursuers, and for nearly two miles along the road by which they passed the snow was covered by the bodies and blood of the slain. Among the fugitives was General Winchester himself, who, falling into the hands of the Wyandotte chief, Roundhead, was conducted, together with his son, a handsome youth of sixteen, to our rear. There, being informed of the state of the action, he immediately wrote an order in pencil to the officer commanding the block houses, desiring him to surrender what troops were under him as prisoners of war.
“This being conveyed to Colonel Proctor, who was then in advance with the left wing, which was fast establishing itself on the flank of the enemy's position, the fire from our line was discontinued, and an officer dispatched with a flag and the document in question. The result of this was the surrender of a considerable body of men, who, dreading to fall into the hands of the Indians, had resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and who could not, without great difficulty have been expelled from their formidable position. In this manner was the whole of the American fort annihilated—150 men only—of those who had been routed early in the day contriving to effect their escape into Fort Meigs, the post so recently established on the banks of the Miami. So complete was the surprise of the enemy that General Winchester, when brought in, had no other covering than the dress in which he slept.
"In this affair which, if properly conducted, would have been attended by little loss to the assailants, we had twenty-four rank and file killed, eleven officers, and one hundred and fifty-eight rank and file wounded, exclusive of sergeants whose number is not recorded. forward movement made upon the enemy in the heat of the action, but in which we had been checked by the desperate and deadly fire of their riflemen, one of the three-pounders had been abandoned not twenty yards from the fence. The Americans eagerly sought to obtain possession of this piece, and leaped the breastworks for the purpose of dragging it in, under cover of their own fire. Their object, however, was seen and frustrated by the British line, which had not retired many yards before it again halted and renewed the contest, compelling the Americans to retire behind their breastworks.
APPEARANCE OF PRISONERS
"The appearance of the prisoners captured at Frenchtown" continues Major Richardson, “was miserable to the last degree; their squalid bodies were covered by clothing which had evidently undergone every change of season and were arrived at the last stage of repair. It was the depth of winter, but scarcely an individual was in possession of a great coat or cloak, and few of them wore any garments of wool of
VIEW OF WINGILES TERNOHTH AMERICANAZEI) TOM" PRESIDENEMATI
03 A meg. Idioma
CARTOON OF CAPTURE OF GEN. WINCHESTER.