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Published: Friday, 2/15/2008

Professor hired to help get status for Monroe battlefield site


MONROE - Heidelberg College Professor G. Michael Pratt has been hired by the Monroe County Historical Society to prepare and submit formal paperwork that may result in the River Raisin Battlefield's becoming a historic landmark.

The society contracted with Mr. Pratt, an archaeologist at the college in Tiffin, to prepare documentation on the War of 1812 battleground site for review by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

"The society has commissioned Dr. Pratt to prepare a formal nomination of the River Raisin Battlefield as a national historic landmark," said William Braunlich, president of the historical society. "We are very, very confident that this will secure the outcome we desire."

The battle site in Monroe is among more than 76,000 properties that have been placed on the National Historic Register. However, the Department of Interior has elevated about only about 2,500 of those sites to National Historic Landmarks.

"We strongly believe that the River Raisin Battlefield belongs in that elite class of properties because of the national significance of what transpired here," Mr. Braunlich said. "We believe the River Raisin Battlefield meets the criteria of national significance because of the War of 1812."

The battle, which was fought in what is present-day Monroe in January, 1813, was one of the bloodiest of the war between Americans and the combined forces of British and Native American troops.

Only 33 of 934 soldiers from Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky escaped death or capture in the battle's second day, and about 60 wounded and unarmed American soldiers, mostly from the Kentucky militia, were killed the next day by Indians after the British withdrew in what was called the Massacre at River Raisin.

"Remember the River Raisin" became a rallying cry for the Kentucky militia and the rest of the war.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D., Dearborn) announced last month that a study was begun to assess the battlefield's importance for inclusion in the National Park Service system, a required and critical step for historic landmark consideration.

The study will conclude with a recommendation to Congress on whether the battleground should become part of the park system.

Mr. Braunlich said the society's commission of Mr. Pratt for the nomination work will complement, assist, support, and accelerate the ongoing study by the National Park Service.

"We are trying to complement and accelerate their work. This will pull together historians, archaeologists, and academicians who are already involved in the study and know the site well," he said.

In Ohio, Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee and Perrysburg's Fort Meigs are listed as National Historic Landmarks.

Mr. Pratt has overseen archaeologist research at the Fallen Timbers battlegrounds and was among historians who have conducted studies at the River Raisin battlefield.

Contact Mark Reiter at:


or 734-241-3610.

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