Kentucky in the War of 1812, Part III

This is Part III of a five-part series documenting the travels of Kentucky Guard Command Historian, John Trowbridge as he explores Kentucky’s participation in the War of 1812.

Story and photos by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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A stone marker indicating the location of the River Raisin massacre, in modern day Monroe, Mich., where members of Native American tribes killed many Kentucky militiamen during the War of 1812. The events at River Raisin galvanized Kentuckians to rally and combat British forces. (photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

MONROE, Mich.—  “Remember the Raisin!”  The battle cry that galvanized Americans during the War of 1812 after many wounded U.S. troops were slayed by Native tribes following the battles at Frenchtown.  It was this slogan that rallied American forces, many of which were from Kentucky, and created the reason needed to invade Canada to combat British forces.

For Kentucky National Guard State Command Historian John Trowbridge, the connection between the War of 1812 and the Kentucky militia is of vital importance. The links to the Kentucky Guard of today and to the citizens of the commonwealth are his primary concern.

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Kentuckians have lost sight of the significance and impact that this particular war had on the state, Trowbridge noted.

“It still impacts the commonwealth today.  Of our 120 counties that we have, 31 have a War of 1812 connection.  As a historian, I feel people need to know those types of things.”

Trowbridge’s primary goal is to educate Kentuckians, not just Soldiers but also the civilians on the role that the Kentucky militia played in the War of 1812.

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Kentucky National Guard Command Historian John Trowbridge reflects on the importance of the Kentucky militia during the War of 1812 during an interview with Bill Darfter, a researcher with the Ontario Visual Heritage Project July 8, 2012. Trowbridge’s primary goal as historian is to educate Kentuckians on the role that the Kentucky militia played in the War of 1812. (photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

“Kentucky’s significant role in 1812 was the militia, the predecessor to the Kentucky National Guard,” said Trowbridge.  “As a historian, that’s what the whole story of the Kentucky National Guard was, it was about us and our predecessors.”

In addition to his duties as the state command historian, Trowbridge is also the vice chair for the Kentucky’s War of 1812 commission.  In this capacity, Trowbridge, in conjunction with other historians and government officials, has started to locate the grave sites of fallen Kentucky militiamen and is trying to relocate the remains back to Kentucky.  Placing markers showing Kentucky’s role in the War of 1812 are also a goal of Trowbridge.

From the battles in New Orleans to the bloody campaigns in the old northwest territories of Ohio and Indiana, all the way to the northern skirmishes of Canada, the Kentucky militia fought to protect America and its citizens from encroaching forces.

“It’s an important telling of who we are and where we come from,” said Trowbridge.

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