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War of 1812 - Artefact of the Week - January 25th, 2013

Sword of US Brigadier General James Winchester

Parks Canada: FF.75.8.4

The owner of this sword was Brigadier General James Winchester, commander of American forces at the Battle of the River Raisin during the War of 1812. The curved steel blade has ornate designs etched upon it. On one side there is an eagle and E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) a motto in Latin from the Great Seal of the United States. The grip is made of ivory and the hilt of silver.

After the August 1812 loss of Detroit, Michigan, the Americans devised a plan to advance north and retake the town. Learning of the dangerous threat to their security, British Major-General Henry Procter and a force of about 600 men, including British regulars, Canadian militia, and First Nations allies departed Fort Amherstburg, crossed the frozen Detroit River and attacked an American detachment at the village of Frenchtown in southeast Michigan on January 22, 1813.

At the Battle of the River Raisin (also referred to as the Battle of Frenchtown) the Americans were caught off guard and in less than thirty minutes, a large number of their force of 934 men had surrendered or taken flight. In the confusion, Winchester was captured as were his sword and his two pistols (one of which was featured on Artefact of the Week for 5 October 2012). The American commander was imprisoned at Quebec until April 1814 when he was exchanged for a captured British officer.

For more information about Fort Malden National Historic Site, visit the Parks Canada Website.

Sword of US Brigadier General James Winchester Sword of US Brigadier General James Winchester
© Parks Canada