River Raisin National Battlefield Park and The Detroit River in 19813

with Rusty Davis

January 21st, 2021

Host: Ben Fogt

with Rusty Davis, Park Volunteer

Podcast Episode 14 (this episode)

The River Raisin National Battlefield Park (National Park Service)

Facebook Page

National Battlefield Park Foundation

River Raisin Heritage Trail

Unfortunately, the driving tour book is not available until the park reopens for activities.


[0:00] [Ben Fogt] This is episode 14 of What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? The podcast exploring the people, places, history, and events that make Grosse Ile unique. I'm your host Ben Fogt.

[0:10] I'll warn you now that this episode runs a bit long, a bit longer than what I've been targeting, but trust me it's worth every second.

[0:18] Now this may get me in trouble, but if you didn't already know I grew up in Ohio. We learned a little bit of Ohio history, but all the Michigan history I ever got in school involved Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.

[0:30] I knew about Anthony Wayne and Tecumseh and Oliver Hazard Perry and William Henry Harrison.

I knew about the Greenville Treaty and the battles on the Great Lakes, the Erie, the Ohio-Erie, the Wabash-Erie, and the Miami-Erie Canals.

[0:43] But anything north of Toledo, even the Toledo War, was new to me when I got here. I'm no help with my kids Michigan history homework.

[0:51] But I am a curious person and one of those curiosities was why Fort Detroit was so far north. Wouldn't the mouth of the Detroit River be more important?

[1:00] Well, today we'll see that it certainly was and that put Grosse Ile in the middle of some important events, especially in the War of 1812 when the British occupied the other side of the river and it was a lot harder to get from Ohio into Michigan.

[1:15] I'm so happy to be able to share this with you today. It's just one more layer in the history that belongs to the islands that make up our Township.

[1:23] Someone who knows a lot about how the War of 1812 played out in our area of Southeast Michigan is Rusty Davis, a volunteer at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in what is now Monroe. I reached out to Rusty to talk about the fighting there in 1813,

but also how the Detroit River was involved in the war. Thank you for joining me, Rusty.

[Rusty Davis] Thank you for having me, Ben.

[B] Tell me about the Michigan territory in 1812. What we know is that Grosse Ile was chartered in 1776 but the population was really sparse.

[1:54] So where did the people live in southeast Michigan and what sort of jobs did they do.

[R] The people in southeast Michigan actually lived along the shoreline from north of Lake St. Clair all the way down through Detroit, both sides of the Detroit River, down in what is now Monroe County. The way the French land was set up they would always front on a river.

Then we'd have a narrow piece of land but it would go back sometimes a mile further into the end of the interior usually goes to the next major water or so. In some instances they may have something that's a couple hundred feet wide and a couple of miles long. Before 1810 there were about 5,000 people in Michigan and this is how they lived in all of these long French Lots. If you look at the Monroe map, for instance, if you bring up a Google map of Monroe with the roads on it you can still see how the French property was situated according to the river.

And then the surveying that was laid out in the Northwest Ordinance, of square mile plots. You can see how the French land is superimposed on or, vice versa, superimposed on each other and they don't really fit because 90 degrees from the river is how the French settled and the Americans came in and surveyed north south east west so you had

[3:16] that difference in it but the rivers are very important because there were no roads to speak of. There were no interior roads. There were just trails or traces. In fact, through here, what is Jefferson Avenue in Detroit and down into the Downriver communities, the first road that was surveyed in Michigan that went anywhere that was surveyed in 1809.

[3:41] It went from what is now Hart Plaza where the Indian Council House used to stand to the Rapids of the Maumee which is Perrysburg, Ohio. And that is a local trail that had been used by people. That was the only surveyed Road in Michigan in the 1820s. In fact that's what linked Michigan back to

[4:03] what you'd call civilization at the time. There is nothing else. After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which was fought in 1795 I think it was, the Treaty of Greenville set out Indian Territory in northwest Ohio that isolated Michigan from any other state. And in the middle of that Indian Territory was what they called the great Black Swamp which was a hundred and twenty miles long and 40 miles wide. It was only passable on horseback or in the winter when it was frozen over. It was full of malaria mosquitoes, everything you can imagine, wild cats, and all kinds of nasty and mean things. There's a tale about one of the postal riders that his horse actually fell into one of the bogs and drowned before he could get him out because it was just so full of water and high ground here and there and whatnot. It was impassable with any wheeled vehicles. And that was a big blockade

[5:06] for anybody to come into Michigan. It was there until the late 1850s, 60s, and 70s before it was finally drained out. So that isolated Michigan. That was the purpose of this single road was to go down to the rapids of the Maumee, which then would take you around the Western end of the great Black Swamp and back into Ohio. Ohio is a state in 1803.

[B] So these days we experience that border change as just I-75 and you wouldn't ever think that that was impassable at some point.

[R] Exactly. You know, north of the Maumee River it wasn't too bad but south of the Maumee River was nearly impassable.

[B] And that went almost all the way to Fort Wayne [IN]?

[5:49] [R] Almost all the way to Fort Wayne to the west and nearly to Sandusky in the East and as far south as the Findlay area. So it was a huge area.

[B] So this takes us a little bit away from from what we wanted to talk about but that sort of explains why Toledo was more part of Michigan at that point and why they fought that war over it eventually.

[R] Well at the time that Ohio became a state that was still considered Indian Territory over there. Toledo was too. That was part of the Treaty of Greenville Indian reserve area. So did Anthony Wayne give them that land because the swamp was and it was no good for anything? Who knows? That would have to be looked into.

[6:36] It also could have had an impact on the Underground Railroad coming into Michigan because most of the people that came to Michigan as escaped slaves seem to have come in further west than the Detroit area. They would come in over around Marshall. Over in the southwestern counties is where they would enter the state and then travel across to Detroit by train. Well, how would they get around that swamp? They might not know it's there but as they ran up against it they would keep going one way or the other to try to find their way around it and that was where they traveled in.

[B] To get back toward the topic at the battlefield there, If we head up toward from the 1700s into the early 1800s the Americans and the British had military installations along the Detroit River right?

[7:28] So where were those and what purposes did they serve before the War of 1812?

[R] Well before the War of 1812, Detroit was established in 1701 on it and pretty much what it was is a fur trading post. And that was what they wanted. They wanted the furs out of the Great Lakes area.

[7:47] The British didn't establish a fort on their side until after the British turned over Michigan to the United States after the Treaty of Paris, the Revolutionary War, they held on to Michigan for a number of years and claimed that they were owed money. The merchants in London were owed money by the Americans and if they don't pay it back, we're not going to give it. But what they were doing is they were pulling fur out of here like crazy because that was their huge market for it at the time. The world supplier for the fur trade basically. After they left

Michigan, they built the fort that's now in Amherstburg called Fort Malden that was when the British established that. And they established it further south than Fort Detroit, of course. They're closer to the mouth of the Detroit river which played into what happened in the War of 1812. They were in a better position to protect the Detroit River than Detroit was. Detroit being closer to the Northern end of the river.

[8:46] You know the people that were here pretty much were subsistence farmers or traders but there was other trading going on. We have, at the park, we have a copy of the ledger from a trading post. A ledger that we acquired copies from the Hayes Presidential Library in Fremont Ohio. And it's the Bagrand family and they're trading whiskey because they had a distillery. So well, to make whiskey somebody had to be

raising crops somewhere and they had to be raising more crops than they were consuming or they couldn't have sold them to these men. So there was other farming going on in the area, but it isn't talked about much. Usually what's talked about is the fur trade or trading with the Indians whatever

[9:29] that was comprised of.

[B] Grosse Ile has a big history of that.

[R] I have a copy of an 1815 map that's out of the National Archives that shows during the War of 1812. There are two camp areas that they that they say Tecumseh was using for his followers and on the other side of the island were, I think it's Swan Island today, there were natives camped there also, probably the Wyandotte that he evacuated out of Brownstown and Magwaga[sp?] after initially. The Wyandotte were trying to stay neutral and they were compelled to join the British. And at that point to protect their families they moved them to Grosse Ile. So my guess is that's the area that they were in there. So and of course Grosse Ile has one of only two Bicentennial farms in Michigan on it

and that's quite a feat for a family to own the same land for over 200 years.

[B] And anybody who's interested in that can listen to episode 2 of the podcast and hear more about that.

[R] Grosse Ile does have a rich history sitting right there and being in the middle of everything so to speak. When they would cross the river that was what they'd do. They would canoe over island to island. You kind of island hop to cross over.

[10:53] Or in the winter, if they dare do it, they could cross on the ice from island to island.

[B] So the War of 1812 starts around June of 1812. What happens in this area during that period?

[R] The beginning parts of the war, the first thing that happened was our Territorial Governor William Hull was commissioned as a Brigadier General. That's the same time that he was still the Territorial Governor and he went to Urbana, Ohio and marched an army back to Detroit. Primarily, they were Ohio volunteer militia. When he got to the rapids of the Maumee, because that was how you had to come up and cross, they were kind of in a hurry because he's trying to get to Detroit. He didn't even know that war had been declared at that time.

He put all of his a lot of the stores that he was bringing along and wagons and that on a package ship called the Cuyahoga. Unbeknownst to him, his son put his personal papers and letters on there also. And so his commission was in it and all of his correspondence with the war department. As that packet tried to make it to Detroit,

[12:01] they went up the right channel on the side towards Amherstburg and the British were aware the war had been declared and then they captured the ship and captured all of Hull's papers and everybody that was sick that was on the boat and few Americans. So that was not a good start to the war. Eventually Hull did get his army to Detroit. That road is still there today. He marched up, primarily, Jefferson Avenue. If you start with the North Bank of the River Raisin in Monroe and walk, drive, however you want to do it, you can end up on Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit on the same road that's been there since about 1809. That was the road that Hull came in on. Things got off to a bad start because as soon as the British started going through what they'd captured, they realized that they had a gold mine. They had all of his troop muster rolls and his letters with the

[12:56] Secretary of War. They had Hull's what he was thinking and his journals everything was there I mean they were...

[13:02] They were all primed. They had more information than he did of what was going on. So it all kind of went downhill from there. He did make it to Detroit in July and by August the 16th he'd surrendered Detroit. You know, he's chastised. He's considered a lot of things, but when you really get right down to it, the man didn't have much choice. As I said, the British built their fort at the mouth of the Detroit River so they controlled the river. His only supply line was the road that he walked back up or come in by water. They controlled the water. They could easily jump across a few islands and head off any troops that he sent south or that were headed north. So he didn't have a whole lot of choice really. You know, people say that "Well, he didn't even try to fight." But you know, had he done that, what would have been the purpose? Even if he'd won the battle, he couldn't have held it because the British held the supply lines. So he would have just caused a lot of needless death, basically. And at the same time he was also like I said. He was still the the civil governor of the state [Territory] of Michigan so he had all of the people in the state of Michigan he's thinking about not just the Army. It's really sort of unfortunate the way he's been portrayed. That's the way history goes.

[B] William Henry Harrison's in charge of the troops at this point?

[R] Yes. Harrison was put in charge of what they called the Northwest Army.

[14:29] And his goal was to regain or to recapture Detroit from the British. So his army was... He had a lot of different militia in his army. They were from Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania.

[14:43] He built quite a big army, but Winchester, William Winchester, who is in charge of the left wing of the army,

[14:53] he primarily had Kentucky troops and they left Kentucky in August in their homespun uniforms and by the time they got to

to this part of the country it is January and the snow. The British, after they captured Detroit, they had sent some troops and some natives, the natives were allied with them, down to this area, what's today Monroe. At the time they refer to this area as the River Raisin. It wasn't called Monroe, wasn't called French Town. It was River Raisin. When Winchester got closer to here some of the men from this area went down and pleaded with him to please come and help us because they were occupied by the British and the natives and the natives were... They said they were treating them bad and whatnot so. Winchester of course on the 18th of January he did send troops up here and they pushed the British out of town out of the area.

[15:49] Occupied several other homes and barns and outbuildings of a little area right by where the road crosses were Dixie Highway crosses now there were about six homes within a picket fenced area stockade area. It wasn't the stockade for defense it was stockade to keep farm animals and wild animals out of their garden. So it was small saplings. It wasn't really strong. It would not have held up to cannon fire but it would hold up to small arms fire.

[16:17] So they occupied there on the 18th. On the 22nd Proctor came back. He brought his troops across from Amherstburg, Fort Malden.

[16:26] Over to Brownstown, marched down, spent the night at Swan Creek, and the next morning came down and attacked the Americans.

Because of the way the Winchester didn't get into town until all of the troops had been billeted in the houses, so he had no place to stay. Because he didn't want to displace any of the wounded, he didn't want to displace them. He stayed on the south side of the river in the Francis Navarre house which was about a half a mile away from the battle. So when the battle started he was over there. He wasn't with his troops when the attack started. He raced back here, back to where the battle was. By that point the natives had already turned the 17th US and turned their flank and they were fleeing across the River Raisin to escape and Hull got caught up in that melee and he was captured. So, here we've got all of these Kentuckians fighting and repulsing the British that are behind the picket fences and Hull's been captured and was with Proctor and Proctor told him either send them in a letter of defeat or I can't guarantee that anybody is going to survive basically. Winchester sent in a letter with one of his aides to surrender. These guys "What do you mean surrender? We're winning." They were running low on ammunition though. And then so that's what happened. Everyone's surrendered. All the arms were collected.

[17:51] And all of the able troops were marched off to Fort Malden very quickly because the troops actually outnumbered the British. Surrendered troops outnumbered the British.

[18:02] and Proctor was not only concerned for that he was also afraid that there were reinforcements coming quickly and wanted to get out of the area. So he left all of the wounded behind in the homes and houses of these buildings. The next day natives came back. Native Americans came back into the community with vengeance on their minds and anybody that could not walk was just... were killed. Anybody that could walk, most of them were taken captive and ransomed or in the native tradition if it was your prisoner, you can do what you wanted with them. So some of the men never were accounted for. Out of the first days fighting 33 out of about 960 men are all that escaped. Out of the first day.

[18:48] So you see we had a lot of people that were captured. They don't know exactly the count of how many were killed. Numbers range in the 300s but the men that were left behind that were not able to walk. All of those buildings were burned. The Indians burned them because the Americans had used them for war against them. So basically, the community that was here, that the heart of the community, was just devastated because it was burned. In the process of the Kentuckians marching up this way, they had desecrated Indian Graves when they found them. Shot any Indian they saw on site and scalped them and they would strip their bodies and cut razor strokes out of the flesh. I mean, it was just they would butcher them, literally. So the Indians were very, very angry and forbid any of the locals to bury any of the

dead American soldiers. So there's tales of wild hogs and dogs running around with arms and body parts in their mouths. Occasionally somebody would sneak out and try to bury somebody at night only to find out that they were dug up the next day again. When they went to that was found out. So most of the people here left if they could. They got out and abandoned the area.

[B] It would be really tough in January.

[R] Oh yeah. Well there was two feet of snow on the ground during this battle.

[20:11] That was part of the way that the slaughter of those escaping across the river was so easy because the natives rode ponies and these men are trying to run through two feet of snow. It was very easy to come up behind them and just knock them in the back of the head and move on. The ones that were ransomed were taken to Detroit and people would ransom and then turn them over to the British. And so

some of the men that wrote tales of their experience than that they were treated better by the Indian captives than they were by the British when they were turned over to them which is kind of interesting.

[20:45] [B] What's the effect on this on the rest of America?

[R] Well after two huge defeats in Michigan, the rest of the country was just... they were just stunned. I mean in August you had an entire Army surrendered without... Lewis Cass ran to Washington and said it was surrendered without firing a shot. That was the propaganda on it and then in January you've lost another entire army of 900 men. Again, they were two huge, huge losses. At that point everybody's scrambling to try to cover themselves and "I didn't do it." "I didn't do it." Harrison immediately wrote a letter saying that Winchester against his orders had made this attack. And so you know everybody's trying to cover themselves so they don't get pulled into this but it was very devastating on not only on the country but the people in Kentucky when the casualty list started coming back, who is in what units and what companies and if anybody knew where they were.

[21:48] So it was really, it'd be really tough on people. you think about it.

[B] Yeah that would devastate that whole... Was Kentucky a state at that point?

[R] Yes. Kentucky was a state. And some of the people that were here, they were like the shining stars. Captain Hart was like the son-in-law of Henry Clay.

[22:11] So there are a lot of them were attorneys and prominent businesspeople. Mary Todd Lincoln's uncle was a soldier. He was a surgeon. He survived the battle, but he was left behind when the British went... marched the troops away. He was left behind to take care of the

wounded. He did survive the battle, but yeah it's interesting some of the connections back to here.

[B] Sure. As a matter of fact if you look on something like YouTube for information about the Battle, a lot of it comes from Kentucky history and their PBS stations and such.

[R] Yeah Michigan. Monroe, Michigan is the only place authorized to fly the Kentucky flag out of the state of Kentucky. And we have a monument on the south side of town that the Kentucky flag flies daily about that.

[B] Even when they play Michigan or Michigan State in basketball?

[R] Even in basketball season.

[B] That wouldn't happen in Indiana. I'll tell you that.

[R] Well there's two. We fly a flag at the Battlefield at The Visitor Center also so...

[B] I understand that the River Raisin became a slogan for America at about that time.

{r} Remember the Raisin. That was probably, as far as we can figure out through research, it was the first war rallying cry that was ever used in this country.

[23:33] You know, it beat out Remember the Maine and Remember Pearl Harbor and is the first one. It was when after Harrison took charge of the army of course and then later in September of 1813, they finally defeated the British on Lake Erie, Commodore Perry did, and after they defeated the British on Lake Erie, the whole western part of Canada was then open for invasion. Harrison ferried his troops across, chased Proctor up to the Thames River and is the last place that they made a defensive stand, that the British did, then as mounted Kentucky troops rode against the British that's what they were yelling was "Remember the Raisin!" "Remember the Raisin!" That's where Tecumseh was killed. Once Tecumseh was dead, the Indian coalition in this part of the country pretty much fell apart. In essence, that was the end of the war of the western part of Michigan. Nobody forgot, though, that the natives were involved and that the natives were allied with the British and as soon as the war was over Lewis Cass, who had been made territorial Governor, he started lobbying to move all the Indians west of the Mississippi and Cass became the Secretary of War in the Andrew Jackson

[24:57] administration. And that's exactly what they did was they just cleaned all of the tribes out east of the Mississippi. So in a sense it all

came out of what happened here in Michigan. Indian Removal got a lot of impetus about what happened here.

[B] And you know connecting that back to Grosse Ile, Alexander Macomb, one of the the sons of the Macomb Brothers,

[25:24] It's actually Alexander Macomb's nephew, I believe. He was involved in that native relocation as well.

[R] So yeah. Well he was military, right? He was in charge post to Detroit in 1817. They had realized because of what happened in the war of the way the British were able to cut off American supplies and everything that it was important to have a good road between Detroit and Ohio so the road that Hull had marched up in 1812 was resurveyed in 1817 as the Military Road. In our collections, we got these out of the National Archives, we have large maps that were drawn in 1817 that go from Detroit to

[26:10] Monroe. And then there's another map that goes from Monroe to the rapids of the Maumee. So that was surveyed in 1817 by Colonel John Anderson of the Army Corps of Engineers. He had been stationed in Detroit in the artillery during the siege during the War of 1812 and been captured. And he came back to Detroit and was in charge of the Corps of Engineers office there. He died sometime in 1835. His death is kind of mysterious. I don't know exactly how he died. Nobody seems to know how or where, but his wife, when she passed away, her money went and they built Mariners Church with it. Mariners Church was moved. I don't know if you're aware of that, but it used to be on the other side of... Well it was where it originally was. It was on the other side of Hart Plaza. So then it was moved over to where it is today and it's right about on top of where the council house was during the

[27:08] Pre-war era.

[B] So we've talked a little bit about the Battlefield Park where you volunteer. Tell me more about that. Especially I understand that there's a plan to expand the facilities.

[R] Well we're doing it right now, to be honest with you. For years it was a County Park and it was just a little small converted house that was the visitor center. Congressman Dingell was very, very instrumental in getting the park established as a National Park. We're one of the only parks that was legislated into existence. So they went and became a national park. It changed. A lot of the interpretation changed. It's a larger,

more inclusive interpretation of what happened here, for one thing. But yes, we moved. The house was closed.

[27:56] It all kind of coincided with Covid. The house is so small, we couldn't really keep it open for visitors because you couldn't social distance in it. So the visitor centers has been closed.

[28:08] And we're moving over to the abandoned ice arena in Monroe which is just across the way. I think on a straight line it's a half a mile but

[28:21] you can stand by the other and almost see the other one. So we'll have a huge... We'll have an entire... We had two ice surfaces. We're going to have one whole ice surface where the displays are going to be. We have a very modern theater that's going to be built or it is built. It's ready for the park film or whatever else we need to use it for.

[28:41] Big lobby with a display or a gift shop. It'll be really nice. It's not going to be called a Visitor Center. It's called the Education Center.

Our Park Superintendent is a very progressive man and we've had several bus tours, what he calls Journeys of Understanding and he gets a bus load of Educators and Native people and they tour Northwest Ohio, 1812 sites in the canva and the teachers have written curriculum for their classrooms out of these trips. So the teachers that had a lot of impact or a lot of input on what we're going to show there. There's a lot of educational input into the displays and how the displays are set up. So it's going to be a very unique place. Hopefully it'll be open in early summer of this coming year. That's the goal if everything goes right. We'll see how it goes.

[B] And I understand there's going to be some restoration or some I guess in this case because the buildings were burned down, it would be re-creations.

[R] There is an effort to do that. The National Park Service will not build. They won't build anything that doesn't... restore anything that doesn't exist so.

[29:59] It'll all have to be done. It's kind of odd, the land. Some of its Nationa...l or belongs to the National Park, some of it belongs to the National Park Foundation, and some of the battlefield land belongs to the city.

[30:12] On city land or Foundation land we could rebuild houses, re-creations of what we think they may have looked like at the time. Of course there were no photographs, so we don't know. We only have... we have written descriptions. We have a lot of written descriptions. I was one of a couple of us went to Washington and identified which files we needed and then we had to hire a person and she scanned all of these so we had the claims that all of the residents turned in to be reimbursed for their losses during the war. In those claims, they do say what buildings they had and some of them have the sizes of the buildings, you know dimensions. And they'll tell you what they had brief descriptions of what were in them. None of them are really extensive. You do get a sense of what they were and that's something that I think a lot of people don't think of. The houses didn't look like most people think. Although a cabin and shack while we have what we like to say is the oldest existing resident in the state of Michigan setting out in a county park and that's the Anderson Navarre Trading Post. It has white clapboard on the sides of it, so it looks like a little house. The French called that weatherboard. They didn't call it clapboard, didn't call it siding. It was weatherboard to protect the logs that were underneath from the weather. They would hue the log square so that would expose the heartwood and so they would

[31:38] put siding on their homes so that their logs wouldn't rot away. So it looks like a little white, little white Bungalow basically. It'll be interesting because we reconstruct things and people would come and see that and it's like their concept is going to be... They're going to see a log cabin like Lincoln Logs or something and that's not what they're going to be seeing. They're going to be seeing what little houses in. But of course all that takes money and time. So everybody can use money. As everybody knows the National Park is not going to pay for any of this. It's all going to have to come out of donated funding or grant money.

[B] Well, what I've seen of it looks like it's going to be an amazing place to go to when the dream starts to be filled out.

[R] I'm kind of biased, Ben, but yeah. I believe it's going to be a big thing. We all have to be biased toward something yes. It'll be huge. They'll have the potential to be a huge attraction. As anyone that lives in southeast Michigan knows the whole I-75 Corridor is being built, rebuilt around the Gordie Howe Bridge project and the idea is to get as many people through this area as you can and have reasons for them to get off the highway and come and see. Because we're a National Park, we have a brand that does attract people.

[32:58] That'll pull people in. Working with the educators in the state like we have, it'll be a huge resource for educators.

[B] Well speaking of getting people there, how do we get there from Detroit and Downriver?

[R] Well the old way would be to just drive down Jefferson Avenue. That would be the old way. We're located at 333 North Dixie Highway, which is just on the north side of the River Raisin, right at that intersection of Elm Street which was River Road or the river trail and Dixie Highway or you could come down I-75 and get off at exit 15.

[33:38] As you get off it coming from the north when you get off on exit 15, turn to the right and you'll go past some of the fast food places and you'll go underneath the railroad tracks and come up and it's right around on that road. That is Dixie Highway. So you'll come right there that would be the way to come from the highway. Either way you could get off at exit 15 if you're coming from the south you could do the same thing it just kind of goes back over.

[B] What sort of things are there to do right now with the offices and the activities shut down?

[R] Right now most of what we've been trying to do is things online, virtual things. We're coming up to the anniversary. The annual anniversary of the battles will be this next weekend. One of the things that the park is doing is they're putting together some video from past years. We typically do a reenactment commemoration, reenactment of tactical demonstration, and then we've had people come from Canada and it's been a big thing in years past. But this year we can't do that. So this year it'll be a virtual then and there'll be... They're putting together a film of some of the past years so that they can show what has happened and we're hoping next year at this time that we'll be able to be back into that where we can have fifty to a hundred men out there re-enacting what was going on and

[35:04] have cannon and everything firing off and often people enjoy that but this year it'll be just if anything it'll just be a small memorial service on the day of the battle just to remember the date.

[B] Alright well this has been a great conversation and I really appreciate that and I know that our listeners will want to visit and learn more to experience the history down there. One thing I do on the podcast is I ask the guests to share a wish if you could have a wish granted for Grosse Ile or Southeast Michigan or the people of the area what would it be?

[R] I think I would like to include all of southeast Michigan and I would like the people to just realize what is in this area of the state. We have a lot to be thankful for down here, really. If you think about it. Monroe doesn't, but Wayne County has a great trail system. You have a nice Metro Park area. We have some wonderful history. Fort Wayne that sits there was referred to as Springwells during the War of 1812 that's where the British landed to attack Detroit. The Americans had a cannon there and bombarded Sandwich from there. The peace treaty with the local Indians was signed there in 1815. And just about every man that's below the age, well that's above the age, let's say

[36:26] 55 or 60 probably remembers going there for a physical and being shipped off to some military station. So there's a lot of history there. We have a lot of history. Monroe is the second oldest county in the state. We have history down here that's amazing and it's the same with the Downriver area. The first Bessemer steel plant west of the Appalachians was built just south of the City of Wyandotte. The ship building that went on up to... There's a lot here is the point. But realize that and appreciate it and support it and that's. Greenfield Village is a huge thing that sets on part of the land that was the Dearborn Military Reserve. I guess that would be my wish, for people to come out. And one plug I would like to give when we are open.

[37:19] The park has developed a driving tour

[37:22] of the War of 1812 and it's not very much money. It's ten dollars for the book, but it coverages the areas in Northern Ohio, throughout Michigan, all the way into Canada. So if anybody wants to learn about the War of 1812, it's a good start because it's just small, two or three paragraphs about each location.

[B] Can we order that through the online presence?

[R] I think you can order that through the National Parks website. River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

[B] I will try to find that to include that in our notes with the podcast this week. I think everyone is... From what we've talked about today, I think everyone is going to go out and take advantage of some of the history that we've got and take a look at that. Rusty, I want to thank you so much for your time today and sharing the history of our region. I think we're probably coming back to you and talk about some other things here down in the future. But I want to let you know I appreciate you and I appreciate the rest of the battlefield staff and the volunteers down there.

[R] Thank you very much, Ben.

[B] I’m so glad I could share this today.

[38:27] I want to again extend my thanks to Rusty and everyone at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

[38:34] This episode is premiering on January 21st, 2021, in the middle of the annual remembrance of the battles.

January 22nd was the second battle and the massacre occurred on January 23rd.

[38:47] You can get more information from the River Raisin National Battlefield Park Web and Social Media sites which will be linked in the notes and transcript.

[38:55] I’ll also link to the book that Rusty mentioned that would help you tour the sites of the War of 1812.

I hope you enjoy these looks at the history of our area of the river.

If there’s any other Grosse Ile history you’d like to hear more about, let me know.

Contact information is also in those notes.

What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? is recorded and produced by me, Ben Fogt. You can keep in touch with me through the What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? Facebook page or email me at whatsthedealGI@gmail.com.

[39:26] You can share episodes from Facebook or hear them from the website whatsthedealGI.com. And of course it never hurts to subscribe so you can get the latest episodes through your favorite podcast delivery tool, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and so many others.

Our intro and credit music is Mocktails in the Rain by Antii Luodo which is used through a Creative Commons license. Find more of his music on SoundClick.com as Antii's Instrumentals.

[39:54] Thanks for listening to What's the Deal, Grosse Ile?