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The War Of 1812

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 United States Forces at the Raisin


Kentucky troops were often described as destitute, and the soldiers at the River Raisin were no exception.  By October of 1813, clothing was already worn out.  Tailors were exempted from all other duties in an effort to keep up with the constant need for repairs.

“John Richardson wrote that the clothes of the Americans at the Battle of the River Raisin  “…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 garments of wool of any description.  They still retained their summer dress, consisting of cotton stuff of various colors, shaped into frocks, and descending to the knee; their trousers were of the same material.  They were covered with slouched hats worn bare by constant use, beneath which their long hair fell matted and uncombed over their cheeks; and these together with the dirty blankets wrapped around their loins…and fastened by broad leathern belts into which were thrust axes and knives of an enormous length, gave them an air of wildness and savageness...”


2nd Michigan Territorial Militia Regiment


At the start of the War of 1812, 218 men at the River Raisin were enrolled in the 7 companies of the 2nd Michigan Regiment, including 44 in Couture’s company, 34 in Drouillard’s, 21 in Jobin’s Horse, 27 in LaSalle’s, 21 in Martin’s, 44 in Menard’s & 27 in Mulholland’s.    Most did garrison and construction duties, but some were involved in Hull's invasion of Canada, the Battles of Brownstown & Monguagon, and escorting the mail to Detroit.  They served barely 3 months before becoming prisoners of war released on parole in August of 1812.


In January of 1813, Lt. Col. Francois Navarre estimated the militia available at the River Raisin at 250, scattered from the Huron to the Maumee and still technically POW’s by the terms of Hull’s surrender of Detroit in August of 1812.  Up to 100 ignored their parole and fought in the battles of January 18-22. 


Those who had the means armed & clothed themselves according to the 1805 regulations in blue coats or capotes trimmed white and coming to the knee, white small clothes, and round hats with white plumes.  Others wore a mix of French-Canadian and Indian garb.



















Michigan Legionary Corps


          About 100 River Raisin militia enlisted in the Michigan Legionary Corps.  They were the first to volunteer for duty, helping to build Hull's Road to Detroit in 1812.  Small detachments participated in the battles around Detroit and were very active in escorting the mail. Many were in Detroit when General Hull surrendered his forces in Michigan Territory to the British & Indians.

          Unlike the ordinary militia, the 86 men of Lacroix’s company were all issued government muskets, cartridge boxes & bayonets.  As they were organized on the eve of the war and came from the 2nd Regiment at the River Raisin, it is likely they wore the 2nd Regiment's blue coats trimmed in white rather than the buff designated for the Legion’s light infantry company. 

    Cornet Lee’s small detachment of Smyth’s cavalry was stationed on the Raisin and wore distinctive red coats trimmed in black velvet, white vests, buckskin breeches, boots, and leather caps with bearskin, blue turban, & white plume.  They fled the territory to avoid being included in Hull's surrender.

          The rest of the Legion, (Smyth’s cavalry, Mack’s artillery, and DeQuindre’s riflemen) were based in Detroit with the 1st Regiment and were part of the American army surrendered by General Hull.



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