By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
Once upon a time, several downriver locations played host to a chapter of American history – 200 years ago this month, to be exact, when local sites served as battlegrounds in the War of 1812.
Sometimes called the “forgotten war,” for the second time in 40 years the United States took a stand against Great Britain, the origins of the conflict lay with maritime and trading rights.
Within a few days in August 1812, battles between American forces and British troops—which included native Americans as allies—brought the naval dispute Downriver: The Aug. 5 Battle of Brownstown, and the Aug. 9 Battle of Manguaga, an Indian village in what is now Trenton.
Carol Hendricks, President of the Trenton Historical Society, said that geography dictated much of the fighting.
“It was such a fluid battle that it ran up and down the river,” Hendricks said. A group of reenactors once staged mock battles in the park, and at 5 p.m. Thursday, the Monguagon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will rededicate a state “Battle of Monguagon” Historical Marker located on Jefferson Avenue that the group recently restored.
The rededication joins a series of activities coordinated by the Michigan Commission on the Bicentennial, which kicked off the series on June 18 in honor of President James Madison’s declaration of war.
Today a ceremony at noon will be held for the Corduroy Road Historical Marker—“Hull’s Trace”—in Brownstown Township at the Huron River boat launch on West Jefferson. A remnant remains visible today at the site of a plank road built by American forces in July 1812 at the beginning of the war.
The “Battle of Brownstown” will be commemorated at 2 p.m. at Carlson High School, 30550 West Jefferson, to view the nearby historical marker, a ceremony presented by the Brownstown Historical Society complete with a Feast, commemorative displays and stories told of the events 200 years earlier on that site.
Michigan’s role in history with the War of 1812 is notable, said Jeff Day, curator of the Lincoln Park Historical Museum, for being integral to the start of the conflict.
“The battles Downriver were significant in the historic context that they were some of the initial battles,” Day said. The state’s Maritime history includes Detroit’s position as a key strategic point. Detroit briefly fell to the British, Day said, but the short-lived war ended with a treaty in late 1814 (although a final skirmish in New Orleans took pace in January 1815).
Ongoing events to mark the war’s bicentennial include an exhibit at the Michigan Maritime Museum, a traveling exhibit visiting the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, and a War of 1812 Muster in Greenfield Village on Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn.
For information on the state’s activities, visit www.michigan.gov/war1812; Information on Downriver activities is available through the Brownstown Historical Society at www.brownstown-mi.org/history.