1818 : Macomb County Named after General Alexander MaComb

January 15, 2018 all-day
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Macomb County was the third county created in the Michigan territory — the first being Wayne County followed by Monroe County.

In 1819 and 1820 portions of the county were removed to form the counties of Oakland, Lapeer, Genesee and St. Clair.

Macomb County was named after local hero and victor the Battle of Plattsburgh, New York, where he defeated a British army over three times the size of his own.

After the fall of Detroit, Alexander Macomb was working with raw recruits in the backwoods of New York State. The better-trained British forces were walloping the American forces. It was Macomb’s job to hold off the British long enough for his naval peers to rally on Lake Champlain.

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Here’s where Detroit ingenuity comes in: Outnumbered by a British force of 11,500, Macomb took his 3,500 men, ragged and undisciplined, and in perhaps the most creative use of landscape design to that date, he planted evergreens, moved trees, and built a false road to lure the British forces away from the actual site of battle. The British got lost. The American forces triumphed. Macomb was lauded by an ecstatic nation as “the hero of Plattsburgh.”

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After the war was over, grateful Detroiters erected a statue to their hometown hero and Governor Lewis Cass proclaimed that the third Michigan county to receive a name would be called Macomb.

For the rest of the story, see Mickey Lyons, “Macomb’s Irish Legacy : Exploring the story behind a familiar statue, and why the man had a Michigan county named after him”, Hour Detroit, March 3, 2015.

Amy Elliott Bragg, “Detroit history in Washington, D.C.: Alexander Macomb“, Night Train, May 9, 2012.

For more information, see “Alexander Macomb Monument”, HistoricDetroit.org