MONROE, MI -- The Department of the Interior today announced the formal establishment of the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, the site of a key battle of the War of 1812 that rallied American forces and eventually led to British forces being driven from the region.
“The engagements between American and British forces at River Raisin was one of those rare times in history where a terrible defeat laid a foundation for eventual victory,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “I am proud that we are now able to honor the brave soldiers who fought and gave their lives to preserve our nation by adding this battlefield to the National Park System.”
From January 18th to 22nd of 1813, more than 400 Americans, British, Canadians and Indians lost their lives in the engagements around a town then known as Frenchtown in one of America's worst defeats during the War of 1812.
After the battles had ended, some of the Indian participants who were British allies killed wounded Americans. That incident, coupled with the failure of British commanders to ensure the safety of prisoners of war, so enraged Americans that the phrase "Remember the Raisin" became a rallying cry for future engagements in the war. The event still stands as the bloodiest conflict ever fought on Michigan soil.
“Our national parks provide a rich tapestry of America's history, cultural and natural beauty,” said Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland “At Raisin River National Battlefield Park, visitors will be transported back to a time when America was still struggling to reinforce its independence and to establish itself as a sovereign nation in a war against the superpower of the time, England. The park is a reminder of the price of freedom and the sacrifices of those who paid that price.”
Congress passed legislation authorizing the park in March, 2009, but the battlefield could not be officially established until sufficient property had been donated to the federal government to allow for effective management of a park by the Interior Department's National Park Service.
“It is a tremendous tribute to soldiers who fought and died on that battlefield,” said Rep. John Dingell. “This national park is the result of an amazing display of patriotism and love of country from the people of Monroe County. Also, they made a remarkable pitch to win the support of Congress and the National Park Service. I want to thank Senator Levin, Monroe Mayors Cappuccilli, Iacoangeli, Worrell and Clark and Secretary Salazar for joining together over time to make this happen.”
"The War of 1812 was our second war of independence, and the events at the River Raisin were a key moment in that conflict,” said Sen. Carl Levin. “The community has worked so hard to make the creation of this park a reality, and now through our National Park System, all Americans will be able to share in this integral part of the history of our state and nation.”
The National Park Service will work closely with the Monroe County Historical Society to make the battlefield available to the public in the near future.