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Otsego Herald

February 21, 2013

Battle of Frenchtown


When the action of the 18th ult. [January] was announced to Gen. Winchester, who was at the Rapids with the residue of his division, he marched immediately with 250 men in order to reinforce Colonel Lewis, and take command of the detachment.

Although from the vicinity of the enemy, and the facility with which they could cross over [the River Raisin], the danger of an attack was evident, yet, unaccountable as it may appear, not the least precaution was taken for the security of the army. The night preceding the fatal morning, we are informed that Gen. W. had taken up his lodgings in a private house, three quarters of a mile from the troops. The officer had been billeted in the several houses in the neighborhood, and the soldiers were lying in promiscuous group in barns, pens, &c. without order or regularity.

The enemy being probably apprized of the unguarded situation of the American troops attacked them at day break on the morning of the 22d ult. With a force of about 16 or 1800 Indians and two or 300 British, with six or eight pieces of artillery. The attack was so sudden, and our troops so completely surprised, that the roaring of the British cannon gave them the first intimation of their danger ... The officers being unable to find out their men, the greatest part of the troops could not be formed, so that very little if any resistance was made.

A few succeeded in making their escape – the remainder were either killed or taken prisoners. The unfortunate Gen. Winchester was killed, scalped and mangled in the most shocking manner ...

COMMENT: Frenchtown is today Monroe, Michigan. John Richardson (1796-1852), a Canadian volunteer in the attack (who later became the “Canadian Cooper” and one of Canada’s first important novelists), said: “On the 22nd, before daybreak, came within sight of the enemy ... such was their security and negligence that ... our line was actually half formed within musket shot of their defenses before they were even aware of our presence.” 

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