Biographies of Battle
At the start of hostilities in 1812, Allen raised and commanded Kentucky’s 1st Rifle Regiment. He led the American right wing at the Battle of French Town on January 18, 1813, and was in charge of the American center, which was ordered to bolster the retreating right wing on the 22nd. Allen was killed during the retreat, becoming the senior American officer to die at the Battle of the River Raisin. Allen County, Kentucky, was named in his honor.
The work chronicled the march of the Kentuckians, the Battle of the River Raisin, and the 16 months Atherton spent as a captive of the Indians and the British. During this time, he came to respect Native Americans but could not accept their life style. As he wrote, “They are a brave, generous, hospitable, kind, and among themselves, an honest people; and when they intend to save the life of a prisoner they will do it, if it should be at the risk of their own. But after all this is said, no one can form any adequate idea of what a man must suffer, who spends a winter with them in the snows of Michigan.”
In 1812, he joined Allen’s 1st Rifle Regiment and led the advance guard at the assault on French Town on January 18, 1813, where he was wounded slightly. He was wounded once again by a spent bullet on January 22, but made the march to Amherstburg and then on to Fort George with the able bodied prisoners.
Although uneducated, Ballard became a popular figure in Kentucky after the war, telling tales of fighting Indians and of his adventures in the wilderness. He was elected to the state legislature from Shelby County, where he resided until his death in 1853 at the age of 95. At that time a county was named for him. Of the nine Kentucky counties created to honor participants of the Battle of the River Raisin, Ballard County is the only one named after a survivor.
Bower wrote a short account of his trials in caring for the wounded after the Battle of the River Raisin. He was taken away by the Indians, but ransomed at Detroit.
When the war ended, he moved to Frankfort Kentucky, but about 1832, he moved to Monroe County, Missouri, where he combined medicine with agricultural pursuits. He was elected to the 28th Congress in 1845 and finally retired to Paris, Missouri, where he died in 1864.
In 1812, Lt. Charland commanded the garrison of a small stockade at the Widow Robidoux’s farm on Otter Creek until Hull’s surrender that August. When Lewis’ detachment arrived to liberate French Town on January 18, 1813, Charland organized a group of local militiamen to assist in the assault. He was captured by Indians on the 22nd, but soon released.
His wife, Angelique hid a Kentuckian fleeing the Indians during the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, and helped him escape. The family became refugees and fled to Detroit where they were forced to beg for food.
Medard Couture stayed to help the American wounded and was nearly killed himself on January 23, but Waugon, an Ottawa who knew the family, saved him by throwing a blanket over him and proclaiming to his warriors, “Take care of him… His father lies dead in the yard, and I am now his father.”
On January 23, the Indians took him to Detroit, where he was ransomed by Captain Muir of the British 41st Regiment for a broken down packhorse and a keg of whisky.
The bulk of his career came after the war as he held the positions of Monroe County clerk, circuit court clerk, probate judge, Justice of the Peace, and Monroe City clerk at various times. Durocher also served in Michigan’s territorial legislature, the first state constitutional convention, and the state legislature. He died in 1861.
In 1812, he organized a company for Allen’s 1st Rifle Regiment and was elected its captain, but resigned in favor of his lieutenant, Richard Bledsoe. Continuing as a private in the company he formerly commanded, he was killed at the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813. A county in Kentucky was named after him in 1825.
Garrard was commissioned as Brigade Inspector of the 2nd Brigade of the Raisin Force. On January 22, he commanded the eastern section of the northern fence line at French Town until the surrender of the American army.
After his release from British captivity, Garrard returned to Fairfield, his Bourbon County plantation, where he pioneered in breeding livestock. He died in 1838.
As a major in the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Kentucky Volunteer Regiment, Graves commanded the western wall of the American position behind the French Town fences on January 22, 1813. He was wounded while passing out ammunition to his men and was left behind with other American wounded after the battle ended. His youngest brother, Thomas, was killed during the battle.
On January 23, Graves was taken away by some Potawatomies and was reported to have been seen in a sleigh near the River Rouge a couple days later. Timothy Mallory and Sam Gano saw him in captivity before they made their own escape. No further knowledge of his fate has ever come to light. Graves County, Kentucky, was named in his memory.
Harrison was promoted above Brigadier General Winchester to command of the Northwestern Theater shortly after the War of 1812 began. After Winchester’s defeat at the River Raisin, Harrison built Fort Meigs and strengthened the defenses of Ohio. After Perry’s victory over the British fleet on Lake Erie, Harrison invaded Canada. At the Battle of the Thames, in October of 1813, he defeated the main British & Indian force in the West under Procter and Tecumseh. Tecumseh died in the battle.
Harrison resigned in 1814 in a dispute with the John Armstrong, the Secretary of War. His popularity led him to continue in politics after the war. He was elected President of the United States in 1840, but died of an illness a few months after his inauguration.
Hart was appointed Deputy Inspector of the Left Wing of the Northwestern Army, and was therefore not technically in command of his company when he was wounded during the Battle of the River Raisin. On January 23, 1813, he was killed by the Indians while being transported to Detroit. Hart County in Kentucky was named after him.
Hickman was badly wounded in the Battle of French Town on January 18, 1813, and was considered hors de combat for the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22. He was among the wounded tomahawked to death on January 23.
Hickman County, Kentucky, was created and named in his honor in 1821.
At the start of the War of 1812, Hull called for a large land and naval force to defend Detroit. He was made a brigadier general and given command the North West Army, consisting of 3 Ohio militia regiments and the 4th U.S. Infantry. Hull built a road through the Black Swamp to bring his 2,000-man army to Detroit. From there, he launched an invasion of Canada, but failed to capture the British base at Fort Malden in Amherstburg. Hull eventually pulled his forces back to Detroit, where he found himself cut off by British, Canadian, and allied Indian nations under General Isaac Brock and Tecumseh. Unsuccessful efforts to open a supply line to French Town on the River Raisin resulted in battles at Brownstown and Monguagon. On August 16, 1812, he surrendered Detroit and the remaining American troops in Michigan Territory.
The Ohio and Michigan militiamen were released on parole, but General Hull and the American regulars were sent to Quebec as prisoners of war. Upon his release, Hull was court-martialed and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted. He retired to Newton, Massachusetts and died in 1825.
The sons of Rachel Knaggs ignored the terms of Hull’s surrender and continued to fight the British. James Knaggs fled the territory with Isaac Lee’s detachment of Michigan militia and fought at the Battle of Mississinewa. Whitmore Knaggs accompanied General Winchester and was captured with him at the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813. He spent the rest of the war in a Quebec prison.
80-year-old Rachel Knaggs was ordered out of town after the battle and reached Detroit after an arduous journey through the cold. When asked how she made it, she replied, “My spunk kept me warm!”
She continued in the fur business after the war and died while on a trading expedition to Green Bay.
Lacroix became a prisoner for a second time after the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813, and was sent to Quebec for the duration of the conflict. He returned after the war and was appointed Colonel of the militia and became the first sheriff of Monroe County, which was created in 1817. Lacroix died in 1827 at the age of 48.
After the war, Lewis moved to Arkansas, where he died in 1825.
At the urging of his old Indian fighting buddies, Paschal Hickman and Bland Ballard, Madison became the 2nd battalion major in John Allen’s 1st Rifle Regiment. At the Battle of the River Raisin, Madison was posted along the eastern half of the northern fence line of French Town. After the elimination of the higher ranking officers, command of the remaining American force fell on him. Presented with the captured Winchester’s note advising surrender, Madison negotiated terms with Colonel Procter, including protection of the wounded and restitution of the officers’ personal side arms.
Madison was sent to Quebec before being exchanged and allowed to return home. In 1816, he was elected governor of Kentucky, but died of tuberculosis shortly after taking office.
After the war, McCalla became a lawyer, U.S. Marshal, and Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Lexington. He was appointed Second Auditor of the U.S. Treasury in 1845. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1873.
Commissioned major of the 2nd battalion in Scott’s 1st Kentucky Volunteer Regiment, he came up to the River Raisin with the reinforcements sent after the Battle of January 18, 1813. Due to the departure of Colonel Wells, McClenahan suddenly found himself in command of the battalion of U.S. regulars forming the right wing in the open ground to the east of the French Town fences when the British attacked on January 22.
Assailed by artillery and Canadians in front and by Indians on their flank, the right wing collapsed and fled south in confusion. Thanks to his horse, Mclenahan was able to outdistance his pursuers, becoming the highest ranking officer and one of just a few dozen Americans to escape the enemy that day.
After the war, he farmed and continued to serve in the legislature until 1826, when he moved to Ohio, and a few years later, to Illinois.
McCracken was in Colonel Allen’s right wing during the attack on French Town on January 18, 1813. At the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, McCracken and Glaves led their companies outside the protective fence line to form the center under Colonel Allen and cover the retreat of the McClenahan & the American right wing. They too were broken and forced to retreat.
Left behind with the wounded after the Battle of the River Raisin, McCracken was carried away by the Indians on January 23, 1813. On February 10, an Indian brought McCracken’s blood-spattered commission paper in to Sandwich and said that he had killed the captain after finding an Indian scalp hidden in his clothing.
Stationed in an exposed position on the right flank of the American army at the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813, the regulars were force to retreat to the river bank. There, Meade was killed while urging his men to counterattack the enemy.
In 1823, a Kentucky county was designated in his name.
Monroe was Secretary of State at the start of the War of 1812, and also filled in as acting Secretary of War between the resignation of William Eustis and the appointment of John Armstrong. He again acted as Secretary of War when Armstrong was fired for failing to adequately protect Washington, D.C., from a British invasion force.
James Monroe was elected President of the United States in 1816 and is most noted for his pronouncement of the Monroe Doctrine, which was aimed against European intervention in the Western Hemisphere. Monroe County, Michigan, site of French Town and the Battle of the River Raisin, was named after him in 1817.
During the brief liberation of French Town in January of 1813, Navarre acted as the liaison between the local population and the American army. General Winchester established his headquarters at Navarre’s house, although it was almost a mile away from his main camp. After the war, Navarre continued to be a prominent civic leader until his death in 1826.
About 30 members of the extended Navarre family served in the War of 1812. Most famous as a scout for the American army was Peter Navarre, who resided along the River Raisin, but moved to the Maumee with his family about 1807.
Peter Navarre helped guide the detachment under Lt. Col. Lewis to French Town on January 18, 1813, and participated in the battle to liberate the town from an occupation force of British militia and Indians. He and his brothers also fought in the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, escaping through the surrounding Indians just as the Kentuckians were surrendering. He spent the rest of the war as a courier and scout for General Harrison. Considered the founder of Toledo (or at least East Toledo), he died in 1874.
Simpson had just been elected U.S. Representative to the 13th Congress when the war broke out and he joined the 1st Rifle Regiment.
Captain Simpson was apparently killed during the retreat of the American right wing at the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813.
Simpson County, Kentucky, was formed in 1819. Simpsonville in Shelby County is also named for him.
At the British hospital on Stony Creek on January 23, 1813, Todd urged the British to return to French Town to rescue the wounded who were being killed by the Indians, but to no avail.
After the war, Todd practiced medicine in Lexington, then moved to Illinois. His niece, Mary Todd, would become the wife of Abraham Lincoln. Dr. John Todd was a Ruling Elder of the 1st Presbyterian Church in Springfield at the time of his death in 1865.
Wells was active in politics and the militia, acting as Justice of the Peace, serving in the Kentucky House, and holding high positions in the Kentucky Militia. He was also a veteran of the Battle of Tippecanoe, where he performed exceptionally well as a major under William Henry Harrison. At the start of the War of 1812, President Madison bestowed on him the regular army rank of Colonel in command of the 17th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
Colonel Wells was not enthusiastic about Winchester sending a detachment to French Town, considering it too exposed to a counterattack from the British base at Amherstburg. On the eve of the Battle of the River Raisin, he received permission to leave camp and report to General Harrison on the condition and disposition of Winchester’s troops.
The 17th U.S. Infantry thus fought the battle on January 22, 1813, without their commander. The result was a total defeat and the elimination of Winchester’s army as a fighting force. Well’s son, Levi, was killed in the fighting.
After the war, Wells moved to Missouri where he acquired thousands of acres of farmland and where he died around 1830 or 1835.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, Winchester was commissioned a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and was ordered to Kentucky to build an army to relieve Detroit. Unpopular with his troops for being too refined and disciplined, he lost his bid to command the entire Northwestern Army to William Henry Harrison.
In command of Harrison’s Left Wing, Winchester advanced down the Maumee River, arriving at the Rapids in January of 1813, just in time to answer pleas for help from the citizens French Town on the River Raisin, which was being occupied and pillaged by the British & Indians. Winchester dispatched a force to liberate the settlement on January 18, and personally led reinforcements, only to be overwhelmed by a British & Indian counterattack on January 22.
After a year in captivity, Winchester was exchanged and assigned to a quiet sector near Mobile, Alabama. In January of 1815, he almost found himself in hot water again, when the British took nearby Fort Bowyer in the final months of the war.
After the war, he disputed criticism of his military record. In 1819, he ran the Chickasaw Boundary Line between Tennessee and Mississippi. After retiring to his plantation at Cragfont, he played an important role in the founding of the city of Memphis. He died July 26, 1826.
Woolfolk was wounded during the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813, and was left behind with the wounded. During the killing of the prisoners on January 23, he offered a thousand dollars to anyone who would take him safely to Detroit. An Indian escorted him upriver, where he negotiated with some of the settlers to ransom him. Unfortunately, he was assassinated by other Indians.
Many of the local inhabitants in later years mistook him for Captain Hart, who was murdered under similar circumstances. The stories of the demise of the two captains have become somewhat intermingled over the years.
During Hull’s invasion of Canada, he made his headquarters at the Baby house in Sandwich. Baby participated in the battles at Detroit, French Town, and Fort Meigs. He was with Procter during his retreat from Amherstburg in 1814 and later testified at this court-martial. In January of 1814, he was captured by an American raiding party, which treated him roughly and almost hanged him as a traitor (since he had been born in Detroit.) Eventually, however, the British government secured his release.
At end of the war, Baby retained his political and social influence. During the Patriot Rebellion of 1838, the Baby orchard was again briefly invaded by an American raiding party. In the 1840’s he ran an inn and ferry service to Detroit. He died in 1852.
After the war, Black Hawk’s band attempted t remain in Illinois, but were forced to migrate to Iowa to join others of their tribe. In 1832, Black Hawk led 200 warriors and their families back across the Mississippi, but they were chased down by militia forces (among whose ranks was the young Abraham Lincoln.) The Black Hawk War was the last major Indian uprising east of the Mississippi River.
He died in Iowa in 1838.
His daughter married Jocko Lasselle, who spied out the American positions at French Town just prior to the Battle of the River Raisin. Two of his sons fought in the battle on January 22, 1813, and participated in the capture of General Winchester. Jim Bluejacket took many scalps. George Bluejacket took Lasselle’s warning to Procter and also helped save Whitmore Knaggs from being killed after his capture.
At the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813, Brandy led a party of 20 of Roundhead’s band and helped capture General Winchester and Whitmore Knaggs. On January 22, he saved one of the wounded Kentucky prisoners by dragging him out of a burning house and taking him to Detroit.
Brandy died about 1847.
Isaac Brock was born at Gurnsey in 1796 and rose through the ranks of several British regiments, seeing action in Denmark and Holland. In 1811, he became Lt. Governor of Upper Canada and commander of all British troops in that colony and worked to rally both Canadians and Indians to the British cause at the start of the War of 1812.
Major General Brock struck first in the West, capturing Detroit in August of 1812 and subjugating Michigan Territory, for which he received a knighthood and lasting fame as the "hero of Upper Canada." He then turned to the defense of the Niagara Penninsula, but in October, he was killed leading a charge against the American positions at Queenston Heights.
Upon his departure from Detroit, command of the British and Indians on the Northwest Frontier was placed in the hands of Colonel (later General) Henry Procter.
At the Battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813, Adam Brown was with Lt. Col. Elliott when he was shot through the body. He survived the battle and died in 1817.
As a militia officer familiar with wilderness warfare, he often quarreled with the regulars, especially Col. Procter. Age, illness, and exile from his home finally did him in on May 7, 1814.
He was with Procter on the retreat from Amherstburg and escaped the capture of most of the 41st Regiment at the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813. Dogged by poor health, which he blamed on his service in Canada, he left the army in 1816, took up private practice in England, and died in 1823.
In September of 1813, Irvine took over command of the Queen Charlotte when his superiors were knocked out of action during the Battle of Lake Erie.
At the Battle of the River Raisin, he was the first to catch up to the fleeing Winchester. After the war, he became a farmer at Sandusky, where he died in 1842.
Both Otussa and his son, Waseonquet (Distant Clouds) fought at the Raisin where they captured a Kentuckian at Plum Creek and took him safely to Detroit. Otussa was poisoned in 1828 by another Indian who bore him a gruge.
Procter took command of Amherstburg shortly after the start of the War of 1812, sending forces to cut off General Hull in Detroit. He served under General Brock at the capture of Detroit and was left in command of the area after Brock departed.
Upon learning that the Americans had taken and occupied French Town, Procter launched a counterattack on January 22, 1813, resulting in the Battle of the River Raisin and the destruction of General Winchester’s army. Although accused by the Americans of failing to prevent the massacre of some of their wounded, Procter was promoted to brigadier general for his victory at the Raisin, and then to the rank of major general.
Procter’s subsequent attempts to capture Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson failed, and, after the British fleet was captured at the Battle of Lake Erie, Procter abandoned Amherstburg and the Detroit area. General William Henry Harrison’s troops pursued the retreating British and Indians, inflicting a decisive defeat on Procter’s forces at the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813.
Procter was officially reprimanded for his defeat, which effectively ended his career. He returned to England in 1815 and lived in semi-retirement until his death in 1822.
Reynolds received commendations for his efforts at Detroit and the River Raisin and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on September 21, 1813. After the war, he became sheriff of Kent County.
Released in 1814, he rejoined the army and was sent to Europe, arriving just too late to fight at the Battle of Waterloo. Continuing in the military, he live in London and Paris, while trying his hand at writing novels. He also wrote one of the best British accounts of the Battle of the River Raisin. Later, Richardson served with the British Legion in Spain, where he earned a court-martial and a knighthood.
In 1838, he returned to Canada as a journalist and later was appointed superintendent of police on the Welland Canal. In 1849, Richardson moved to New York City, where he died in 1852.
As a 2nd lieutenant in the Canadian Provincial Marine in charge of the brig Hunter at the beginning of the War of 1812, he led the boarding party that captured the Cayauga with General Hull’s baggage and papers. This was the first of 18 prizes he would capture during the war.
On January 22, 1813, Rolette was in charge of an artillery piece out in front of the British lines at the Battle of the River Raisin. He was wounded when a spent musket ball fired from his own side hit him in the back of the head.
Nine months later, Rolette was wounded again and burned by a powder explosion on board the Lady Prevost at the Battle of Lake Erie. In 1814, his ship, the Detroit, was surprised and captured by the Americans.
Rolette survived the war, but died in 1831 at the age of 48 from the cumulative effect of his wounds.
Roundhead was second only to Tecumseh amongst Colonel Procter’s force of Native Americans allied with the British. He participated in the Battle of Monguagon and the Detroit campaign, where Tecumseh gave Roundhead the sash presented to him by General Brock, claiming it should go to an older and abler warrior than himself.
The 6’ tall Roundhead led the Indians on Muir’s expedition and at the Raisin. He was also with Tecumseh at Brownstown, Monguagon, and Fort Meigs, where his brother Jean-Baptiste was killed. Roundhead died sometime during the month of October, 1813.
When Hull’s army invaded Canada early in the War of 1812, St. George successfully defended his post at Amherstburg. He participated in the Detroit Campaign, but his military career almost ended at the River Raisin where he was wounded 4 times and left for dead. Fortunately, a British team on sleighs arrived to rescue him early in the evening.
After the war, St. George rose to the rank of Major General and was eventually knighted, becoming a Knight of the Bath in 1835.
Of medium build and possessing great stamina, he had less genius than Roundhead. He professed neutrality after the Americans reoccupied Detroit in the fall of 1813, but then helped defeat McArthur at Grand River in October of 1814.
Split Log died near Fort Malden in 1825.
Shawnee Chief Tecumseh
Tecumseh was born among the Shawnees in Ohio around the year 1768. He and his brother, Tenskwatawa (also called the Prophet) rose to prominence for their efforts to promote Native American culture and their resistance to the encroachment of American settlers onto native lands.
As a young man, Tecumseh participated in the defeat of St. Clair's army in 1791 and the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The brothers' influence spread rapidly after 1805, when the Prophet began a religious revival, and Tecumseh turned to organizing a coalition of Indian nations with British support.
Tensions grew until they reached the boiling point in 1811. On November 7, William Henry Harrison defeated the Indians and destroyed Prophet's Town on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana. Tecumseh, who was absent on a recruiting mission in the South, returned to rebuild his confederacy. By the time the United States declared war against Great Britain in 1812, Tecumseh's forces had already joined the British at Fort Malden in Amherstburg.
As allies of the British, Tecumseh's warriors performed valuable services in the Detroit campaign, the Battles of Brownstown, Monguagon, and the River Raisin, and the Sieges of Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson. They made the northwest frontier insecure for American troops and settlers.
Unfortunately, their activities also invited American retaliation against native villages. Many villages were burned or forced to relocate deeper into British or American controlled territory where they could find protection and food or maintain some sort of neutrality. Those opposed to Tecumseh, including some members of his own tribe, even provided scouts and warriors to fight for the Americans.
Personally, Tecumseh was greatly respected by both his friends and his enemies. He prevented the killing of prisoners after Dudley's defeat during the Siege of Fort Meigs, and he probably would have done the same had he been present at the River Raisin.
After Commodore Perry's capture of the British fleet on Lake Erie in September of 1813, the British under Colonel Procter abandoned Amherstburg and Detroit, retreating into the interior of Upper Canada. Rather than abandon his homeland, Tecumseh urged Procter to stay and fight. At the Battle of the Thames in October, the British and Indians were defeated, and Tecumseh killed. His brother Tenskwatawa survived the war and died in Kansas in 1836.
Tecumseh and the British soon forced Walk-in-the-Water and his people to relocate to Amherstburg, where they became allies of the British. He fought at Monguagon, Detroit, and the River Raisin. When Procter evacuated the area in the fall of 1813, Walk-in-the-Water broke away and sued for a separate peace with the Americans.
In 1815, Walk-in-the-Water signed the Treaty of Springwells. He died in 1817.
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