War of 1812 Had Great Impact on Saginaw Valley; Veterans Were Pioneers Here
Capt. Joseph Marsac, Rev. Avery Denison Were Local Connections to Conflict
August 25, 2004
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By: Dave Rogers
Capt. Joseph Marsac, Bay City pioneer, was veteran of War of 1812.
There are Bay City connections to the War of 1812 that is the subject of a documentary now being featured on the History Channel.
At least two Bay City pioneers are known to have been veterans of the War of 1812 -- Capt. Joseph F. Marsac and Rev. Avery Denison.
For our area, the most important outcome of the War of 1812 was that the U.S. victory forced the Indians to sign away their lands in treaties including the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819 involving 6 million acres in the Saginaw Valley.
The Indians had sided with the British and the government considered their lands forfeit. (See MyBayCity.com "Treaty of Saginaw's 185th Anniversary," July 28, 2004)
Capt. Marsac's name lives on ina street name in the South End of Bay City. Rev. Denison's grave is one of 10 interest points in a new Rotary Club walking tour of Pine Ridge Cemetery.
Born in 1792 in Hamtramck, Capt. Marsac headed a company at the Battle of the Thames inOntario, Canada where the American army had pursued the British General Henry Procter. After the British had burned Detroit, the Gen. William Henry Harrison's troops defeated them in the Battle of the Thames during which the famed native chief Tecumseh was killed. Gen. Harrison's victory marked the end of Tecumseh's Confederacy and the downfall of the Indians in the northwest. the Battle of the Thames was considered the most important land battle of the War of 1812 in this region.
Capt. Marsac was later posted to Ft. Gratiot and Ft. Malden until his enlistment expired.
Capt. Marsac was an aide to Gen. Lewis Cass at the negotiations with the Indians that resulted in the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819. He also accompanied an Indiandelegation to Washington, D.C., in 1836 for treaty talks with President Andrew Jackson.
He moved to this area in 1838 and in 1848 was appointed by President James Polk to teach agriculture to the Chippewa in Lower Saginaw. When Gen. Zachary Taylor became President in 1849, Marsac was replaced as the "Indian Farmer" by James Fraser.
Capt. Marsac died June 18, 1880. His burial place is unknown.
Rev. Denison, a pioneer Baptist minister, died in Bay City Oct. 15, 1866. His military service is a mystery but since he was a resident of upstate New York at the time of the war it may be theorized that he was a member of a unit that fought in the actions around Lake Champlain. The British general Sir George Prevost threatened the Hudson Valley and New Yorkers rallied to oppose the redcoats. Prevost was forced to retreat to Canada after the British fleet was defeated by Capt. Thomas Mcdonough near Plattsburgh in September, 1814.
Andrew Jackson's decisive victory over the British at New Orleans Jan. 8, 1815 came after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in mid-1814. The victory spurred the growth of American nationalism and opened vast Indian lands for expansion, including those in the Saginaw Valley.
Michigan's settlement may have occurred earlier but for another outcome of the War of 1812. Seeking suitable land for veterans of that war, the government sent U.S. Army surveyors to evaluate Michigan. The surveyors, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, later to be leaders of the Confederacy, encountered mosquitos and pestilence in the swampy regions and hightailed it back to Washington. They pronounced the Michigan territory worthless. So the veterans of the War of 1812 received property in Florida. Michigan's settlement did not accelerate until after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and treaties with the Indians in the following decade.
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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