Tag: William Henry Harrison

British and Kentucky Riflemen Battle of Frenchtown 22 Jan 1813

Since its shameful fall in August 1812 with scarcely a shot fired in defense, the Americans wanted Detroit back. So embarrassed by it, a winter campaign was conceived to win it back. William Henry Harrison, the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, was selected to take back the area and further the American goals in the War of 1812. Harrison’s second in command was General James Winchester. The two split their forces to move on Detroit.

On 18 January 1813, Winchester’s lead elements entered Frenchtown (near modern day Monroe, Michigan) and took it in a short battle with a handful of British Regulars and a couple of hundred of local Indians. The American soldiers were militia that had recently been recruited in Kentucky and marched north with severe privation. The Kentuckians found great stores of food and gorged themselves for several days. Unfortunately, their officers had not ordered them to fortify the area for a counter-attack.

Battle of Frenchtown

A mixed force of British, under Colonel Henry Procter, and Shawnee, under Chief Tecumseh, counter-attacked on 22 January 1813. There followed a fierce battle that would go down as one of the biggest ground battles in the War of 1812. The British and Indians attacked across the American front. The American right flank was enveloped and surrendered, including Winchester. The left flank, however was holding well along a fence in the west of the area. The Kentuckians there were not surprised to see a British truce party arrive, but they were surprised to hear that it was the Kentuckian’s surrender they were after. Winchester had sent word that they should give up. The Kentuckians did surrender, but only with the assurance that the captured would be protected from the Indians.

The British then quickly unoccupied the area of operations for they feared that Harrison’s column would soon descend on Frenchtown. They left the prisoners with Tecumseh’s force. Some, but not all, of the Kentucky prisoners left with the Indians were massacred. The remainder were taken to Detroit for ransom. The Raisin River Massacre became a rallying point for remainder of the war in the old northwest. The event had a solidifying effect on the frontiersman for the war that was not there previously. Future Kentucky units rushed north yelling, “Remember the Raisin!” The area was re-captured by Kentucky cavalry units in September 1813.

Trivia; Although born in Ohio, George Armstrong Custer lived in Monroe as a boy and married a local girl. No doubt, young Custer would have heard the story of the massacre in his local school.

Battle of Frenchtown Motorcycle Ride

Check out the Raisin River Battlefield National Park. Then go from the Raisin River Battlefield Visitor’s Center and follow the Raisin River out to Raisinville, Dundee and back to Monroe to the Sterling State Park.

Andrew Jackson and the Treaty of Fort Jackson 9 August 1814

Result of the Creek War Treaty of 1814

After the tough battles at Emuckfau/Emuckfaw and Enitachopco Creeks and the near total devastation of the Red Stick Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, Jackson ordered all of the Creeks to report to Fort Jackson on 1 August 1814 to discuss terms of a comprehensive treaty. Jackson was a new Major General in the U.S. Army due to the resignation of William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, and was in no mood for compromise and stood firm with all of the Creeks, including the US friendly White Sticks. He took his new rank seriously and was intent on using his new power with his heroic reputation to get what he wanted (and what the thought the US needed).

Treaty of Fort Jackson

What was to become the Treaty of Fort Jackson made several major demands, including;

  • Surrender the prophets (leaders) of the Red Sticks
  • The US would have free navigation of the waterways in the Creek areas
  • The US would have the right to build roads in the Creek areas
  • The US would control all trade in the Creek areas
  • The US could build military and trading centers in the Creek areas
  • The Creeks must cede over half of Creek held land to make good for the costs associated with the war

That last point was the one that caused the most consternation as it it applied to all Creeks, not just the troublemakers. Jackson wanted the majority of the existing Creek lands, including a strip that would separate the Creeks from the Spanish Florida tribes and was adamant in his demand. Old allies’ concerns were cast aside by Old Hickory in the name of national defense. Jackson wanted to break the communications link between the northern and southern tribes and severely weaken the influence of foreign powers from the Gulf of Mexico inland, namely the British and their occasional alliances with the Creeks.

Benjamin Hawkins, a civilian advisor at the talks, tried to help the Creeks bend Jackson with well reasoned pleas that they had been strong allies of the Americans against the Red Sticks and, although they had once sided with the British, they would promise not to do so again in the future. They had brought up this point, because they knew that it was this threat of foreign intervention and its threat to block access to the Gulf that was causing the pragmatic Jackson to demand total severance from the temptation. No, General Jackson would have total capitulation or the resisting Creeks would be banned from the area altogether.

Hawkins pleaded with Washington to apply pressure on Jackson to relent a little, but Washington had a man who wanted what they wanted, even if he was the type to forego diplomatic niceties of compromise. Finally, the old warrior, Selocta, who had fought with Jackson during the hard times in eastern Alabama asked for just the area west of the Coosa River as a concession. One can almost feel the chill in the air today when thinking of the old soldier saying “no” to one of his comrades-in-arms one final time.

Jackson’s only slip of will (if it can be even be called that) was that he would allow the Creeks who disagreed with the Treaty of Fort Jackson to go to the Florida panhandle. The Creeks had little choice. The Treaty was signed on 9 August 1814.

Motorcycle Ride

Check out the “Figure 8” ride starting at Fort Jackson Park and taking a big chunk of the historical Creek homeland in eastern Alabama. Go outside of Summer, unless you like sweating like a whiskey salesman in a Woman’s Christian Temperance Union hall.

Photo Credit:
By User:Dystopos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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