Battle at River Raisin - January, 1813 – Native Strength

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Battle at River Raisin - January, 1813 – Native Strength

Post by pud » Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:01 pm

Source: Documentary History of the Campaign upon the Niagara Frontier in 1813, PART five, January to June, 1813. Lt. Col. E. Cruikshank. Tribune Office, Welland [Upper Canada], 1902. pp. 49-51.

"John Askin to Honorable William D. Powell
January 25, 1813.
Dear Sir,-
I had the pleasure of receiving your kind letter of 6th inst. last night, covering papers to which the utmost attention will be given so soon as the present bustle is over, or (illegible) by the victory we obtained at the River Raisin on Friday last. The official account of the number of the killed, wounded and taken prisoners of the enemy, as well as our loss, will be more correct than what I could give; I therefore referred you to it. Its most astonishing that so good marksmen as the Americans are from behind a stockade or other cover, in the course of an engagement which continued six hours, firing on our people who were exposed, killed and wounded so few and we so many. Surely the hand of the Almighty must have been lifted up for us. Of our small force there must have been 500 men not in the action. The whole of the River Thames militia got no further than Malden, and several of the new settlements therefore not in the action. Our Canadians who were could not be restrained by Col. St. George from pushing forward, and Col. Proctor with our regular forces began the attack at so little distance that our cannon was of little use, being so near that our men from the first were within musket shot of the enemy. Of the militia there are only four killed, and I dare say not more of the Indians, who behaved with the utmost bravery. It was them who took the General, and is said to have killed some hundred who took to flight; indeed very few escaped. You may rely on it that without the Indians we never could keep this country, and that with them the Americans never will take the upper posts, for let them send forward as many men as they will, if we employ the foreign Indians we can have equal numbers, which is more than is wanted, for in the woods where the Americans must pass one Indian is equal to three white men, let the nation be what it will. Lieutenant-Col. Baby was ordered to take charge of Malden, and my son James and his flank company Detroit, in which there was not a single regular our artilleryman left, Captain Muir excepted, who was not cured of the sickness. None of our family suffered except Dr. Richardson's second son, Robert, (14 years old) shot through the leg. I have no less than 17 of my family now in the service: sons, grandsons, including three sons-in-law. McCormick, Gordon and Garvin were wounded. The latter lost his father a few days ago.

I'm very sorry indeed for the cause of your family grief. Such men were lost on 13th October as cannot be easily replaced. A seeming hard, untimely fate, yet what Providence permits must be for the best, and I doubt not the brave men who fell on that day are happy.

Mr. Francis Baby as a volunteer bravely assisted during the action. Mr. James Baby, I understand, waited at Malden for the arrival of his Kent militia, and therefore was not in the action. My grandson from Michilimackinac, (now in the commissary line,) deserted or went without leave and joined the Indians in the action.

Your friendship, my good Sir, makes you overrate my fortitude. Yet, as long as God gives Mrs. Askin, myself and family health, I think our spirits and mine never will fail us, and although when the lives of our children are at risk we feel anxiety, yet we would suffer much more did any of them shrink from doing their duty. But, thank God, I never discovered any other fear in them but that of doing wrong. Alexander is only recovered so as to be able to do duty some days ago since he volunteered, (illegible) and several others have died of a disease they caught on that expedition. I doubt if ever Captain McKee will recover; he has not yet been able to get out of his house.

We fear more that the posts may be given up when a peace takes place than anything else; for if they are you may rely on it we lose the Indians’ interest and trade of this quarter, and I'm persuaded they will become hostile to the British, even should the Americans not join them. The country about this and Michilimackinac, which we have got possession of, the Indians consider as their hunting ground, acquired by their assistance, therefore that we have no right to part with them without their connivance.

Did I know of any public employment in the gift of His Honour the President, the duties of which I could perform at my own house, I would request your friendly interest to procure it for me. My handwriting is as clear as it has been for 20 years past. I can read and write without spectacles, even by candlelight. However, the Almighty means of living were small before the war broke out and since has become less for want of hands to repair my middle and others to work my distillery, yet I don't want to be a burthen to our Government or require pay for doing nothing.

Mrs. Askin joins me in respectful complements to Mrs. Powell, the young ladies and your family connections.

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