River Raisin National Battlefield Park, which preserves a War of 1812 battlefield near Monroe, Michigan, was officially opened to the public on October 22. It is the 393rd unit of the National Park System.
The park was authorized when President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (PL 111-11) on March 30, 2009. Although it commonly takes up to eight years or more to obtain funding, acquire land, prepare infrastructure, and do other things necessary to ready a newly authorized national park for public use,this park was opened in short order because funding was promptly provided and local supporters of the battlefield had already preserved the battlefield, provided a visitor center, and rallied community support.
Calling the new park “an important addition to the National Park System," National Park Service director Jon Jarvis added that "the War of 1812 is often forgotten, remembered only for the birth of our national anthem, but it was as significant as any war in our history.”
At the Battle of the River Raisin in January, 1813, American forces suffered one of the worst defeats of the War of 1812. When the battle was over, Indian allies of the British killed wounded American prisoners, so enraging Americans that the phrase ‘Remember the Raisin’ became a rallying cry for future engagements in the war. We should all know about this engagement for its significance and now as the newest park in the National Park System.
Annual visitation is expected to be 20,000 to 25,000. National Park Service personnel are already on site and working closely with the Monroe County Historical Society to make the battlefield more available to the public.
Monroe’s River Raisin Battlefield Visitor Center, a cooperative effort of the Monroe County Historical Commission and the Monroe County Historical Society, has been operating at the battlefield site since July 1990 and now serves as the visitor center for the new national park. During June through October, the visitor center will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The facility will be closed November through May, although the park will remain open to the public throughout the year.
For information about the park, click to this site operated by park supporters or contact David Barna, Chief of Public Affairs (WASO), at 202 208-6843. River Raisin National Battlefield Park does not yet have an official NPS website.