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Otsego Herald

April 11, 2013

River Raisin Massacre

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, April 10, 1813

Compiled, with comments


The Murder of the Wounded

Those whose feelings have been harrowed by the narration of the murder of the wounded, by the allied forces the day after the defeat of gen. [James] Winchester at Frenchtown, will duly esteem the callous wretch (calling himself an American, and, perhaps, unfortunately, born in the United States) that could insert such an article as the annexed, in his paper.

But it is more to be lamented that a deep and desperate foreign influence countenances the miserable creature in his assassin jest.

We shall not (says the intelligent editor of the Weekly Register) give to the infamous being the pleasure to know that his name will be as celebrated as his cold blooded zeal in behalf of the allies [the British and Indians]: but we insert the paragraph to show the lengths to which a British influence proceeds, descending even to a hoggish insensibility at a deed, that faithful history shall record to the indelible disgrace of the British name.

“We would advise the recruiting officers of government to enlist FAT MEN for the western market, that the Indians may not BUTCHER LEAN UNPROFITABLE STOCK.” – From the National Intelligencer.

COMMENT: This item was originally printed in Niles Weekly Register for March 20, 1813, p. 54. At the Battle of Frenchtown (on the River Raisin south of Detroit), on Jan. 22, 1813, the incompetent American General James Winchester (1752-1826) had been ignominiously defeated by the perhaps equally incompetent British Colonel (and later General) Henry Proctor (1763-1822).

Winchester’s American force, largely composed of Kentucky militia, suffered 300 casualties and 600 prisoners. Proctor returned to British-occupied Detroit, leaving behind 68 prisoners too badly injured to march, under the care of a handful of British Canadian militia headed by the American-born Capt. William Elliott. But despite Elliott’s protests, on the following morning (to quote an official American Army document of the time): “The savages were permitted to commit every depredation upon our wounded which they pleased. An indiscriminate slaughter took place, of all who were unable to walk, many were tomahawked, and many were burned alive in the houses.

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