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Massacre on the River Raisin

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Massacre on the River Raisin
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): William Atherton, Elias Darnell & E. A. Cruikshank
Date Published: 2013/07
Page Count: 204
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-133-5
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-132-8

Narrative of the Suffering & Defeat of the North-Western Army Under General Winchester
by William Atherton

A Journal
by Elias Darnell

Harrison and Procter: The River Raisin
by E. A. Cruikshank
The defeat of the Army of the Northwest in Michigan

The Battle of Frenchtown (which was also known as the Battle of the River Raisin and subsequently the River Raisin Massacre) was a particularly disastrous episode for American forces during the War of 1812. It took place near to modern day Monroe in Michigan in January 1813. Advancing American forces under Winchester, deputy commander of the Army of the Northwest, forced British forces and their Indian allies out of Frenchtown after light skirmishing as part of an initiative intended to eventually recapture Detroit. The incidents described in this book took place over a four day period that encompassed several engagements. After an initial retreat the British forces rallied, counter attacked and inflicted a decisive defeat on the Americans, killing almost 400 of them. Subsequently the Indian allies of the British fell upon large numbers of American wounded and prisoners, including Kentucky Volunteers, and slaughtered them—the event that gave the engagement its notoriety. The battlefield saw more Americans killed than in any other single combat of the War of 1812 and holds the unfortunate record of being the deadliest conflict fought upon the soil of Michigan. This unique Leonaur edition contains three pieces about the battles in the River Raisin region, among them several valuable first-hand accounts by participants and survivors that provide the modern student with a comprehensive overview of the times from several perspectives. A valuable addition to the libraries of all those interested in the War of 1812.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

During our stay at camp No. 3, a detachment was sent down the river to assist General Tupper. I was one of the number called out for that expedition; and a hard and fruitless one it was. Colonel Lewis commanded. We marched until about nine o’clock at night. Colonel C. S. Todd, with some others, was sent on to Tupper’s encampment to make some discoveries, and when they arrived at the spot they found that Tupper had retreated, and one of his men left dead in the camp! This information was brought to Colonel Lewis, and after a council with his officers, he considered it prudent to return. He thought if it were necessary for Tupper, with six hundred and fifty men, to retreat, and the river too between him and the enemy, he could not be justified in meeting it on the same side with three hundred and eighty. It was stated, but I would not vouch for the truth of it, that he left the rapids a few hours after he sent the express to our camp, without notifying our detachment at all.<br>
Early next morning we commenced our retreat, but from the fatigues of the previous day, and want of rest that night, (for we had no fire,) the most of us were unable to reach the army that day, but were obliged to camp about five miles below. This was a night of keen suspense to myself, and no doubt many others. We had grounds to believe the Indians would pursue us with perhaps double our number, and surprise us in the night; but we reached the camp in safety next morning.<br>
Our Indian spies made frequent excursions in different directions, but their reports were not generally satisfactory. Logan, one of the finest looking Indians I ever saw, was one of them, and perhaps the only honest man among them, finding that they were suspected either of cowardice or treachery, determined on another expedition to the rapids. But before leaving, expressed his grief at the stain cast upon his character—declaring at the same time that something should be done before his return that should convince all concerned of his bravery and friendship to the Government of the United States. Old Captain John, and Lightfoot, if I mistake not, accompanied him. They had not reached the rapids before they fell in with the spies of the British—a company of Indians superior to their own, commanded by a young British officer: they managed the affair with great dexterity.<br>
Logan, who was a man of great presence of mind, finding, upon first sight of the enemy, a retreat to be impracticable, instantly proposed to his comrades to approach them in the character of friends, and report themselves as deserters from camp No. 3. Though they had but a very few moments, yet Logan fixed upon the signal, and concerted the plan of escape. They met—Logan made his statement, which was received cautiously, but so far as to prevent immediate hostilities. They were permitted to keep their arms, but ordered to march in front, a plain indication that they were suspected.<br>
As the object of this band of British spies was to gain information in reference to the army at camp No. 3, they considered their object accomplished, and therefore returned from this place. A conversation soon commenced respecting the condition, number, and intentions of the army, &c., &c., during which time Logan and his two companions were watching their opportunity to make the attack. Although they doubled their number, yet they determined to rescue themselves or die. The signal was given, and each man brought his man to the ground. This left their power about equal. The enemy fled a little distance, and opened a fire upon them, which they returned with the arms of those they had shot; but finding a retreat now practicable, Logan ordered it, but in mounting one of the horses of the enemy, received a ball in his breast which ranged down to the small of his back; but, notwithstanding, succeeded in reaching the camp that night, a distance of about thirty miles.<br>
Old Captain John would not leave the spot until he had taken a scalp, which he brought to camp with him. Every effort was made by the physicians to save the life of this brave and daring man, but all in vain. I saw him a few hours before his death. He died like a soldier. But before his death, was heard to say—“I suppose this will be taken as evidence of my bravery, and I shall be no longer suspected as a traitor.”