The River Raisin is a river in southeastern Michigan that flows approximately east-southeastward into Lake Erie. The river gained its namesake from the wild grapes along the river banks which were spotted by early French explorers in the area. The name raisin—French for "grape"—remains after the word "river," a descendant of the original French name. Today, the River Raisin watershed, particularly along the river itself, has become a haven for agriculture and industry. It also features numerous dams, the largest of which is in Dundee; others are found in Monroe. The dams are used to regulate water flow and help to prevent flooding.
War of 1812
During the winter of 1813, the War of 1812 came to Monroe County as a battle occurred near the River Raisin. Advancing British and Native American troops under the command of British General Henry Proctor and Native American chief Tecumseh faced off against a small division of Kentucky militia under command of General James Winchester. Greatly outnumbered and facing a stout defeat, Winchester surrendered to the British, having been given assurance to the safety his military men. After a few days, however, some of the Native Americans slaughtered the captives with the British not preventing the action. The massacre ended with the return of Tecumseh, who had been absent during this time. The chief openly criticized the British for allowing the massacre to occur.
The "Massacre of the River Raisin" became a rallying cry—"Remember the Raisin"—for the American troops, in particular, for the remaining Kentuckians. American troops did return in the spring and drove the British from the region, launching a series of victories which would remove the British from Michigan. The original battlefield survives as a park in Monroe and features a monument to the Kentucky soldiers who died in the massacre.
With the growth of agriculture and industry in the River Rasin watershed came increased pollution. The river, at one point, faced a severe pollution crisis due to industrial wastes and agricultural runoff. Even after extensive cleanup efforts in recent years, there remains polychlorinated biphenyl compounds and degradates which are difficult to remove. Environmental authorities advise people not to eat fish from the river, particularly down river of the Ford Motor Company's Monroe plant.