Lake Erie, Monroe, Michigan
Monroe is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 20,733 at the 2010 census. It is the largest city and county seat of Monroe County. The city is bordered on the south by Monroe Charter Township, but both are politically independent. The city is located approximately 14 mi (23 km) north of Toledo, Ohio and 25 mi (40 km) south of Detroit. The United States Census Bureau lists Monroe as the core city in the Monroe Metropolitan Area, which had a population of 152,021 in 2010.
Monroe is officially part of the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint CSA. The city is sometimes unofficially included as a northerly extension of the Toledo Metropolitan Area.
Settled by European Americans in 1784 shortly after the American Revolutionary War, Monroe was platted in 1817. It was named after President James Monroe. Today, the city is committed to historic preservation of resources; it is remembered for the Battle of Frenchtown during the War of 1812, as well as being the childhood residence of George Armstrong Custer and other members of his family, including his brother Boston Custer and wife Elizabeth Bacon. The city has numerous historic museums and landmarks.
Monroe is the home of the La-Z-Boy world headquarters. The population has declined slightly since its peak in 1970.
Long occupied by varying cultures of indigenous peoples, the area around the River Raisin was settled by the historic Potawatomi hundreds of years before the French reached the area in the late seventeenth century. Robert de LaSalle claimed the area for New France after his 1679 expedition on the Griffon.
In 1784, after the American Revolutionary War, Francis Navarre of Canada was given a portion of land south of the River Raisin by the Potawatomi. Colonists settled Frenchtown shortly thereafter as the third European community in the state. Around the same time, the Sandy Creek Settlement was established just north of Frenchtown by French-Canadian Joseph Porlier Benec.
Because of its proximity to Detroit, the area was of strategic importance during the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, especially after Detroit surrendered to the British in August 1812. American forces en route to retake Detroit had camped in the area of the River Raisin in the winter of 1812-13. A force of 200 Native Americans and 63 Canadian militia were forced to retreat north away from the River Raisin by 600 Kentucky militiamen and 100 French, under the command of James Winchester, on January 18, 1813. This skirmish was later dubbed the 'First Battle of the River Raisin'.
But, on January 22, a force of 800 Native Americans and 597 British, under Henry Procter (British Army officer), surprised the force of 1,000 Americans and captured Frenchtown. Many of the American militia were inexperienced, ill-trained, and badly equipped. They suffered 397 killed and 547 captured. The British and their allies suffered slight losses.
When the British departed with their captives to Detroit, they left those Americans too wounded to walk in the homes of Frenchtown inhabitants under the guard of a small British detachment and their Native American allies. The morning after the battle, Native Americans returned to Frenchtown. They plundered and burned homes, killing and scalping many of the remaining American captives, and taking others as slaves. The official U.S. estimate of casualties in this aftermath include a dozen named individuals killed and up to 30 more who were likely killed. British estimated six Americans were killed.
This event became known throughout the United States as the 'River Raisin Massacre'. This was also known as the Battle of Frenchtown (or the Second Battle of the River Raisin). Today, the site of the battle is preserved as the recently authorized River Raisin National Battlefield Park. It has a small visitor center.