1811 Jan 1
, New York

The origins of the War of 1812 (1812-1815), between the United States and the British Empire and its First Nation allies, have been long debated. There were multiple factors that caused the US declaration of war on Britain:

  1. A series of trade restrictions introduced by Britain to impede American trade with France with which Britain was at war (the US contested the restrictions as illegal under international law).
  2. The impressment (forced recruitment) of seamen on US vessels into the Royal Navy (the British claimed that they were British deserters).
  3. The British military support for American Indians who were offering armed resistance to the expansion of the American frontier to the Northwest Territory.
  4. A possible desire by the US to annex some or all of Canada. Implicit but powerful was a US motivation and desire to uphold national honor in the face of what they considered to be British insults, such as the Chesapeake affair.
American troops under the leadership of General William Henry Harrison fighting the Indian forces of The Prophet, Tenskwatawa (the brother of Tecumseh) in a forest. Date November 7, 1811 Location Near Battle Ground, Tippecanoe County, Indiana 40°30′25″N 86°50′38″WCoordinates: 40°30′25″N 86°50′38″W Result United States victory Belligerents Tecumseh's Confederacy United States Commanders and leaders Tenskwatawa William Henry Harrison Strength 500–700 warriors 250 infantry, 90 cavalry, 700 militia Casualties and losses Unknown 36 known dead (Estimated 50–65 killed and 70–80 wounded)+ 1 POW 62 killed, 126 wounded Battle of Tippecanoe is located in IndianaBattle of Tippecanoe Location within Indiana Show map of Indiana Show map of the United States Show all. | ©Kurz and Allison

Battle of Tippecanoe

1811 Nov 7
, Battle Ground

William Henry Harrison was appointed governor of the newly formed Indiana Territory in 1800, and he sought to secure title to the area for settlement. The leader of the Shawnee, Tecumseh, opposed the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne. He believed that land was owned in common by all tribes; therefore specific parcels of lands could not be sold without full agreement from all the tribes. Though Tecumseh resisted the 1809 treaty, he was reluctant to confront the United States directly. He traveled through tribal lands, urging warriors to abandon their chiefs to join his effort, threatening to kill chiefs and warriors who adhered to the terms of the treaty, building a resistance at Prophetstown.

Tenskwatawa stayed with the Shawnee who were camped at the Tippecanoe in Prophetstown, a settlement that had grown to a few hundred structures and a sizable population. Harrison believed military force the only solution towards militant tribes. Harrison started raising troops. About 400 militia came from Indiana and 120 cavalry volunteers from Kentucky, led by Kentucky's U.S District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daveiss. There were 300 Army regulars commanded by Col. John Parker Boyd, and additional native scouts. All told he had an about 1,000 troops.

Early the next morning warriors from Prophetstown attacked Harrison's army. They took the army by surprise, but Harrison and his men stood their ground for more than two hours. After the battle, Harrison's men burned Prophetstown to the ground, destroying the food supplies stored for the winter. The soldiers then returned to their homes.

Tecumseh continued to play a major role in military operations on the frontier. By the time that the U.S. declared war on Great Britain in the War of 1812, Tecumseh's confederacy was ready to launch its own war against the United States – this time with the British in open alliance.

Declaration of war

Declaration of war

1812 Jun 1
, Washington

On 1 June 1812, President James Madison sent a message to Congress recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war. The House of Representatives then deliberated for four days behind closed doors before voting 79 to 49 (61%) in favour of the first declaration of war. The Senate concurred in the declaration by a 19 to 13 (59%) vote in favour. The conflict began formally on 18 June 1812, when Madison signed the measure into law. He proclaimed it the next day, while it was not a formal declaration of war. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation and the Congressional vote was the closest vote in American history to formally declare war. None of the 39 Federalists in Congress voted in favour of the war, while other critics referred to it as "Mr. Madison's War". Just days after war had been declared, a small number of Federalists in Baltimore were attacked for printing anti-war views in a newspaper, which eventually led to over a month of deadly rioting in the city.

Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in London on 11 May and Lord Liverpool came to power. He wanted a more practical relationship with the United States. On June 23, he issued a repeal of the Orders in Council, but the United States was unaware of this, as it took three weeks for the news to cross the Atlantic. On 28 June 1812, HMS Colibri was dispatched from Halifax to New York under a flag of truce. She anchored off Sandy Hook on July 9 and left three days later carrying a copy of the declaration of war, British ambassador to the United States Augustus Foster and consul Colonel Thomas Henry Barclay. She arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia eight days later. The news of the declaration took even longer to reach London.

British commander Isaac Brock in Upper Canada received the news much faster. He issued a proclamation alerting citizens to the state of war and urging all military personnel "to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty", so as to prevent communication with the enemy and to arrest anyone suspected of helping the Americans. He also issued orders to the commander of the British post at Fort St. Joseph to initiate offensive operations against American forces in northern Michigan who were not yet aware of their own government's declaration of war.

Hull's Invasion of Canada | ©Graham Turner

Hull's Invasion of Canada

1812 Jul 12
, Windsor

An American army commanded by William Hull invaded Upper Canada on July 12, arriving at Sandwich (Windsor, Ontario) after crossing the Detroit River. Hull issued a proclamation ordering all British subjects to surrender, or "the horrors, and calamities of war will stalk before you". The proclamation said that Hull wanted to free them from the "tyranny" of Great Britain, giving them the liberty, security, and wealth that his own country enjoyed—unless they preferred "war, slavery and destruction". He also threatened to kill any British soldier caught fighting alongside indigenous fighters. Hull's proclamation only helped to stiffen resistance to the American attacks as he lacked artillery and supplies. Hull also had to fight just to maintain his own lines of communication.

Hull withdrew to the American side of the river on 7 August 1812 after receiving news of a Shawnee ambush on Major Thomas Van Horne's 200 men, who had been sent to support the American supply convoy. . Hull had also faced a lack of support from his officers and fear among his troops of a possible massacre by unfriendly indigenous forces. A group of 600 troops led by Lieutenant Colonel James Miller remained in Canada, attempting to supply the American position in the Sandwich area, with little success.

Fort Mackinac, Michigan

Siege of Fort Mackinac

1812 Jul 17
, Fort Mackinac

The British commander in Upper Canada, Major General Isaac Brock, had kept the commander of the post at St. Joseph Island, Captain Charles Roberts, informed of events as war appeared increasingly likely from the start of 1812. As soon as he learned of the outbreak of war, Brock sent a canoe party led by the noted trader William McKay to Roberts with the vital news, and orders to capture Mackinac.

The Siege of Fort of Mackinac was one of the first engagements of the War of 1812. A British and Native American force captured the island soon after the outbreak of war between Britain and the United States. Encouraged by the easy British victory, more Native Americans rallied to their support. Their cooperation was an important factor in several British victories during the remainder of the war.

The Attack on Sacketts Harbour

First Battle of Sacket's Harbor

1812 Jul 19
, Sackets Harbor

The First Battle of Sacket's Harbor was a battle fought on July 19, 1812, between the United States and the British Empire; it was the first engagement of the war between these forces. It resulted in American forces repelling the attack on the village and its important shipbuilding yard, where 12 warships were built for this war.

Siege of Detroit 1812

Siege of Detroit

1812 Aug 12
, Detroit

Major General Isaac Brock believed that he should take bold measures to calm the settler population in Canada and to convince the tribes that Britain was strong. He moved to Amherstburg near the western end of Lake Erie with reinforcements and attacked Detroit, using Fort Malden as his stronghold. Hull feared that the British possessed superior numbers; also Fort Detroit lacked adequate gunpowder and cannonballs to withstand a long siege. He agreed to surrender on 16 August, saving his 2,500 soldiers and 700 civilians from "the horrors of an Indian massacre", as he wrote. Hull also ordered the evacuation of Fort Dearborn (Chicago) to Fort Wayne, but Potawatomi warriors ambushed them, escorted them back to the fort where they were massacred on 15 August after they had travelled only 2 miles (3.2 km). The fort was subsequently burned.

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere by Michele Felice Cornè

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere

1812 Aug 19
, Atlantic Ocean

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere was a battle between an American and British ship during the War of 1812, about 400 miles (640 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It took place on the 19th of August 1812, one month after the war's first engagement between British and American forces. Guerriere was proceeding to Halifax for a refit, having been detached from a squadron which had earlier failed to capture Constitution. When the two ships encountered each other on August 19th, Guerriere's Captain James Richard Dacres engaged, confident of victory against the larger, better-armed U.S. ship. The exchange of broadsides felled Guerriere's masts and reduced the ship to a sinking condition. Constitution's crew took the British sailors on board and set Guerriere on fire, then returned to Boston with news of the victory, which proved to be important for American morale.

British Blockade

British Blockade

1812 Sep 1
, Atlantic Ocean

The naval blockade of the United States began informally in the late fall of 1812 to restrict trade and shipping between the United States and the rest of the world. Under the command of British Admiral John Borlase Warren, a line of warships extended from South Carolina to Florida. It expanded to cut off more ports as the war progressed. Twenty ships were on station in 1812 and 135 were in place by the end of the conflict. In March 1813, the Royal Navy punished the Southern states, who were most vocal about annexing British North America, by blockading Charleston, Port Royal, Savannah, and New York City as well. Additional ships were sent to North America in 1813 and the Royal Navy tightened and extended the blockade, first to the coast south of Narragansett by November 1813 and to the entire American coast on 31 May 1814. In May 1814, following the abdication of Napoleon and the end of the supply problems with Wellington's army, New England was blockaded.

The British needed American foodstuffs for their army in Spain and benefited from trade with New England, so they did not at first blockade New England. The Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay were declared in a state of blockade on 26 December 1812. Illicit trade was carried on by collusive captures arranged between American traders and British officers. American ships were fraudulently transferred to neutral flags. Eventually, the United States government was driven to issue orders to stop illicit trading. This put only a further strain on the commerce of the country. The British fleet occupied the Chesapeake Bay and attacked and destroyed numerous docks and harbours. The effect was that no foreign goods could enter the United States on ships and only smaller fast boats could attempt to get out. The cost of shipping became very expensive as a result.

The blockade of American ports later tightened to the extent that most American merchant ships and naval vessels were confined to port. The American frigates USS United States and USS Macedonian ended the war blockaded and hulked in New London, Connecticut. USS United States and USS Macedonian attempted to set sail to raid British shipping in the Caribbean, but were forced to turn back when confronted with a British squadron, and by the end of the war, the United States had six frigates and four ships-of-the-line sitting in port. Some merchant ships were based in Europe or Asia and continued operations. Others, mainly from New England, were issued licences to trade by Admiral Warren, commander in chief on the American station in 1813. This allowed Wellington's army in Spain to receive American goods and to maintain the New Englanders' opposition to the war. The blockade nevertheless decreased American exports from $130 million in 1807 to $7 million in 1814. Most exports were goods that ironically went to supply their enemies in Britain or the British colonies. The blockade had a devastating effect on the American economy with the value of American exports and imports falling from $114 million in 1811 down to $20 million by 1814 while the United States Customs took in $13 million in 1811 and $6 million in 1814, even though the Congress had voted to double the rates. The British blockade further damaged the American economy by forcing merchants to abandon the cheap and fast coastal trade to the slow and more expensive inland roads. In 1814, only 1 out of 14 American merchantmen risked leaving port as it was likely that any ship leaving port would be seized.

As the Royal Navy base that supervised the blockade, Halifax profited greatly during the war. From there, British privateers seized and sold many French and American ships. More than a hundred prize vessels were anchored in St. George's Harbour awaiting condemnation by the Admiralty Court when a hurricane struck in 1815, sinking roughly sixty of the vessels.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/Principal_Campaigns_of_the_War_of_1812.gif

Battle of Queenston Heights

Battle of Queenston Heights

1812 Oct 13
, Queenston

The Battle of Queenston Heights was fought between United States regulars with New York militiamen, led by Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer, and British regulars, York and Lincoln militiamen, and Mohawk warriors, led by Major General Isaac Brock and then Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe, who took command after Brock was killed. The battle was fought as the result of an American attempt to establish a foothold on the Canadian side of the Niagara River before campaigning ended with the onset of winter.

Despite their numerical advantage and the wide dispersal of British forces defending against their invasion attempt, the Americans, who were stationed in Lewiston, New York, were unable to get the bulk of their invasion force across the Niagara River because of the work of British artillery and the reluctance on the part of the undertrained and inexperienced American militia. As a result, British reinforcements arrived, defeated the unsupported American forces, and forced them to surrender. The decisive battle was the culmination of a poorly-managed American offensive and may be most historically significant for the loss of the British commander. The Battle of Queenston Heights was the first major battle in the War of 1812.

River Raisin Massacre

Battle of Frenchtown

1813 Jan 18
, Frenchtown

After Hull surrendered Detroit, General William Henry Harrison took command of the American Army of the Northwest. He set out to retake the city, which was now defended by Colonel Henry Procter and Tecumseh. A detachment of Harrison's army was defeated at Frenchtown along the River Raisin on 22 January 1813. Procter left the prisoners with an inadequate guard and his Potawatomie allies killed and scalped 60 captive Americans. The defeat ended Harrison's campaign against Detroit, but "Remember the River Raisin!" became a rallying cry for the Americans.

Chesapeake campaign | ©Graham Turner

Chesapeake campaign

1813 Mar 1 - 1814 Sep
, Chesapeake Bay

The strategic location of the Chesapeake Bay near the Potomac River made it a prime target for the British. Rear Admiral George Cockburn arrived there in March 1813 and was joined by Admiral Warren who took command of operations ten days later. Starting in March a squadron under Rear Admiral George Cockburn started a blockade of the mouth of the Bay at Hampton Roads harbour and raided towns along the Bay from Norfolk, Virginia to Havre de Grace, Maryland. In late April Cockburn landed at and set fire to Frenchtown, Maryland and destroyed ships that were docked there. In the following weeks he routed the local militias and looted and burned three other towns. Thereafter he marched to iron foundry at Principio and destroyed it along with sixty-eight cannons.

On 4 July 1813, Commodore Joshua Barney, an American Revolutionary War naval officer, convinced the Navy Department to build the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, a squadron of twenty barges powered by small sails or oars (sweeps) to defend the Chesapeake Bay. Launched in April 1814, the squadron was quickly cornered on the Patuxent River. While successful in harassing the Royal Navy, they could not stop subsequent British operations in the area.

Battle of York

Battle of York

1813 Apr 27
, Toronto

The Battle of York was a War of 1812 battle fought in York, Upper Canada (today's Toronto, Ontario, Canada) on April 27, 1813. An American force supported by a naval flotilla landed on the lakeshore to the west and advanced against the town, which was defended by an outnumbered force of regulars, militia, and Ojibway natives under the overall command of Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.

Fort York in 1804

Burning of York

1813 Apr 28 - Apr 30
, Toronto

Between April 28 and 30, American troops carried out many acts of plunder. Some of them set fire to the buildings of the Legislative Assembly, and Government House, home to the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.The Parliamentary mace of Upper Canada was taken back to Washington and was only returned in 1934 as a goodwill gesture by President Franklin Roosevelt. The Printing Office, used for publishing official documents as well as newspapers, was vandalized and the printing press was smashed. Other Americans looted empty houses on the pretext that their absent owners were militia who had not given their parole as required by the articles of capitulation. The homes of Canadians connected with the Natives, including that of James Givins, were also looted regardless of their owners' status. Before they departed from York, the Americans razed most of the structures in the fort, except the barracks.

During the looting, several officers under Chauncey's command took books from York's first subscription library. After finding out his officers were in possession of looted library books, Chauncey had the books packed in two crates, and returned them to York, during the second incursion in July. However, by the time the books arrived, the library had closed, and the books were auctioned off in 1822. Several looted items ended up in the possession of the locals. Sheaffe later alleged that local settlers had unlawfully acquired government-owned farming tools or other stores looted and discarded by the Americans, and demanded that they be handed back.

The looting of York occurred in spite of Pike's earlier orders that all civilian property be respected and that any soldier convicted of such transgressions would be executed. Dearborn similarly emphatically denied giving orders for any buildings to be destroyed and deplored the worst of the atrocities in his letters, but he was nonetheless unable or unwilling to rein in his soldiers. Dearborn himself was embarrassed by the looting, as it made a mockery of the terms of surrender he arranged. His soldiers' disregard for the terms he arranged, and local civil leaders' continued protest against them, made Dearborn eager to leave York as soon as all the captured stores were transported.

Siege of Fort Meigs

Siege of Fort Meigs

1813 Apr 28 - May 9
, Perrysburg

In May 1813, Procter and Tecumseh set siege to Fort Meigs in northwestern Ohio. Tecumseh's fighters ambushed American reinforcements who arrived during the siege, but the fort held out. The fighters eventually began to disperse, forcing Procter and Tecumseh to return to Canada. Along the way they attempted to storm Fort Stephenson, a small American post on the Sandusky River near Lake Erie. They were repulsed with serious losses, marking the end of the Ohio campaign.

Royal Marines.

Battle of Craney Island

1813 Jun 22
, Craney Island

Admiral Sir George Cockburn commanded a British fleet blockading Chesapeake Bay. In early 1813, Cockburn and Admiral Sir John B. Warren planned to attack the Gosport Shipyard in Portsmouth and capture the frigate U.S.S. Constellation. Brigadier General Robert B. Taylor commanded the Virginia Militia in the Norfolk area. Taylor hastily built defenses around Norfolk and Portsmouth, but he had no intentions of letting the British penetrate as far as those two cities. Instead Taylor commandeered several ships and created a chain barrier across the Elizabeth River between Fort Norfolk and Fort Nelson. He next built the Craney Island Fort on the island of the same name at the mouth of the Elizabeth River near Hampton Roads. Since the Constellation was already penned up in the Chesapeake because of the British blockade, the ship's crew was used to man some of the redoubts on the island. In all, 596 Americans were defending the fortifications on Craney Island.

On the morning of June 22, 1813, a British landing party of 700 Royal Marines and soldiers of the 102nd Regiment of Foot along with a company of Independent Foreigners came ashore at Hoffler's Creek near the mouth of the Nansemond River to the west of Craney Island. When the British landed, the defenders realized they were not flying a flag and quickly raised an American flag over the breastworks. The defenders fired, and the attackers began to fall back, realizing that they could not ford the water between the mainland and the island (the Thoroughfare) under such fire. British barges manned by sailors, Royal Marines, and the other company of Independent Foreigners then attempted to attack the eastern side of the island. Defending this portion was a company of light artillery under the command of Captain Arthur Emmerson. Emmerson ordered his gunners to hold their fire until the British were in range. Once they opened fire, the British attackers were driven off, with some barges destroyed, and they retreated back to the ships. The Americans captured the 24-oar barge Centipede, flagship of the British landing force, and mortally wounded the commmander of the amphibious assault force, Sir John Hanchett, illegitimate son of King George III.

Battle of Lake Erie by William Henry Powell

Battle of Lake Erie

1813 Sep 10
, Lake Erie

The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, on Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of the British Royal Navy. This ensured American control of the lake for the rest of the war, which in turn allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the Battle of the Thames to break the Indian confederation of Tecumseh. It was one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812.

An artist's depiction of the battle and the death of Tecumseh.

Battle of Thames

1813 Oct 5
, Chatham-Kent

The American Army of the Northwest under Major General William Henry Harrison was attempting to recover Fort Detroit and capture Fort Malden at Amherstburg, Ontario during the last months of 1812 and for much of 1813 from the Right Division of the British Army in Upper Canada, which was commanded by Major General Henry Procter. After Perry's complete victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, ensured American military control of the lake, improved American morale after a series of defeats and compelled the British to fall back from Detroit. Cut off from their supplies, the British was forced to retreat north up the Thames River to Moraviantown, followed by the tribal confederacy under Shawnee leader Tecumseh who were his allies.

This enabled General Harrison to launch another invasion of Upper Canada, which culminated in the American victory at the Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813. American control was re-established in the Detroit area, the British lost control of Southwestern Ontario, Tecumseh was killed and his confederacy collapsed, and Procter was court-martialed for his poor leadership.

Battle of the Chateauguay

Battle of the Chateauguay

1813 Oct 26
, Ormstown

Late in 1813, United States Secretary of War John Armstrong devised a plan to capture Montreal, which might have led to the conquest of all Upper Canada. Two divisions were involved. One would descend the St. Lawrence River from Sackett's Harbor on Lake Ontario, while the other would advance north from Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. The two divisions would unite in front of the city for the final assault. On 26 October 1813, a combined British and Canadian force consisting of 1,530 regulars, volunteers, militia and Mohawk warriors from Lower Canada, commanded by Charles de Salaberry, repelled an American force of about 2,600 regulars which was attempting to invade Lower Canada and ultimately attack Montreal. The Battle of the Chateauguay was one of the two battles (the other being the Battle of Crysler's Farm) which caused the Americans to abandon the Saint Lawrence Campaign, their major strategic effort in the autumn of 1813.

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend

Battle of Horseshoe Bend

1814 Mar 27
, Dadeville

The Creek Indians of Georgia and the eastern part of the Mississippi Territory had become divided into two factions: the Upper Creek (or Red Sticks), a majority who opposed American expansion and sided with the British and the colonial authorities of Spanish Florida during the War of 1812; and the Lower Creek, who were more assimilated into the Anglo culture and sought to remain on good terms with the Americans.

The Shawnee war leader Tecumseh visited Creek and other Southeast Indian towns in 1811–1812 to recruit warriors to join his war against American territorial encroachment. The Red Sticks, young men who wanted to revive traditional religious and cultural practices, were already forming, resisting assimilation. They began to raid American frontier settlements. The governments of Tennessee, Georgia, and the Mississippi Territory organized militia forces, which together with Lower Creek and Cherokee allies, fought against the Red Sticks.

On March 27, 1814, United States forces and Indian allies under Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Sticks, a part of the Creek Indian tribe who opposed American expansion, effectively ending the Creek War. At the end, roughly 800 of the 1,000 Red Stick warriors present at the battle were killed. In contrast, Jackson lost fewer than 50 men during the fight and reported 154 wounded. After the battle, Jackson's troops made bridle reins from skin taken from Indian corpses, conducted a body count by cutting off the tips of their noses, and sent their clothing as souvenirs to the "ladies of Tennessee."

On August 9, 1814, Andrew Jackson forced the Creek to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The Creek Nation was forced to cede 23 million acres (93,000 km2)—half of central Alabama and part of southern Georgia—to the United States government; this included territory of the Lower Creek, who had been allies of the United States. Jackson had determined the areas from his sense of security needs. Of the 23 million acres (93,000 km2) Jackson forced the Creek to cede 1.9 million acres (7,700 km2), which was claimed by the Cherokee Nation, which had also allied with the United States. Jackson was promoted to Major General after getting agreement to the treaty.

Napoleon's First Abdication, April 11, 1814.

Napoleon's First Abdication

1814 Apr 11
, Paris

The end of the war with Napoleon in Europe in April 1814 meant that the British could deploy their army to North America, so the Americans wanted to secure Upper Canada to negotiate from a position of strength. Meanwhile, 15,000 British troops were sent to North America under four of Wellington's ablest brigade commanders after Napoleon abdicated. Fewer than half were veterans of the Peninsula and the rest came from garrisons. Most of the newly available troops went to Canada where Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost (who was the Governor General of Canada and commander in chief in North America) was preparing to lead an invasion into New York from Canada, heading for Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson River. The British begin to blockade the entire US east coast.

Brig Gen Winfield Scott leading his infantry brigade forward during the battle

Battle of Chippawa

1814 Jul 5
, Chippawa

Early in 1814, it was clear that Napoleon was defeated in Europe, and seasoned British veteran soldiers from the Peninsular War would be redeployed to Canada. The United States Secretary of War, John Armstrong Jr., was eager to win a victory in Canada before British reinforcements arrived there. Major General Jacob Brown was ordered to form the Left Division of the Army of the North. Armstrong directed that two "Camps of Instruction" be set up, to improve the standards of the regular units of the United States Army. One was at Plattsburgh, New York, under Brigadier General George Izard. The other was at Buffalo, New York, near the head of the Niagara River, under Brigadier General Winfield Scott.

At Buffalo, Scott instituted a major training program. He drilled his troops for ten hours every day, using the 1791 Manual of the French Revolutionary Army. (Prior to this, various American regiments had been using a variety of different manuals, making it difficult to manoeuvre any large American force). Scott also purged his units of any remaining inefficient officers who had gained their appointments through political influence rather than experience or merit, and he insisted on proper camp discipline including sanitary arrangements. This reduced the wastage from dysentery and other enteric diseases which had been heavy in previous campaigns.

By early July, Brown's division was massed at the Niagara, in accordance with Armstrong's alternate orders. On July 3, Brown's army, consisting of the regular brigades commanded by Scott (with 1,377 men) and Ripley (with 1,082 men), and four companies of artillery numbering 327 men under Major Jacob Hindman, easily surrounded and captured Fort Erie which was defended only by two weak companies under Major Thomas Buck. Late in the day, Scott encountered British defences on the far bank of Chippawa Creek, near the town of Chippawa.

The Battle of Chippawa (sometimes spelled Chippewa) was a victory for the United States Army in the War of 1812, during its invasion on July 5, 1814 of the British Empire's colony of Upper Canada along the Niagara River. This battle and the subsequent Battle of Lundy's Lane demonstrated that trained American troops could hold their own against British regulars. The battlefield is preserved as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Battle of Lundy's Lane

Battle of Lundy's Lane

1814 Jul 25
, Upper Canada Drive

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, also known as the Battle of Niagara, was a battle fought on 25 July 1814, during the War of 1812, between an invading American army and a British and Canadian army near present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and one of the deadliest battles ever fought in Canada, with over 1,731 casualties including 258 killed. The two armies fought each other to a stalemate; neither side held firm control of the field following the engagement. However, the casualties suffered by the Americans precipitated their withdrawal, and the British held the strategic initiative.

The Battle of Mackinac Island

Battle of Mackinac Island

1814 Jul 26 - Aug 4
, Mackinac Island

The Battle of Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) was a British victory in the War of 1812. Before the war, Fort Mackinac had been an important American trading post in the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It was important for its influence and control over the Native American tribes in the area, which was sometimes referred to in historical documents as "Michilimackinac".

A scratch British, Canadian and Native American force had captured the island in the early days of the war. An American expedition was mounted in 1814 to recover the island. The American force advertised its presence by attempting to attack British outposts elsewhere on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, so when they eventually landed on Mackinac Island, the garrison was prepared to meet them. As the Americans advanced on the fort from the north, they were ambushed by Native Americans, and forced to re-embark with heavy casualties.

Battle of Bladensburg

Battle of Bladensburg

1814 Aug 24
, Bladensburg

The Battle of Bladensburg was a battle of the Chesapeake campaign of the War of 1812, fought on 24 August 1814 at Bladensburg, Maryland, 8.6 miles (13.8 km) northeast of Washington, D.C. Called "the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms," a British force of army regulars and Royal Marines routed a combined U.S. force of Regular Army and state militia troops. The American defeat resulted in the capture and burning of Washington, the only time since the American Revolutionary War that the federal capital has fallen to a foreign invader.

Burning of Washington

Burning of Washington

1814 Aug 25
, Washington

Following the defeat of American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, a British force led by Major General Robert Ross marched to Washington. That night, British forces set fire to multiple government and military buildings, including the White House (then called the Presidential Mansion), the Capitol building, as well as other facilities of the United States government. The attack was in part a retaliation for American destruction in Upper Canada: U.S. forces had burned and looted its capital the previous year and then had burned buildings in Port Dover. Less than four days after the attack began, a heavy thunderstorm—possibly a hurricane—and a tornado extinguished the fires and caused further destruction. The occupation of Washington lasted for roughly 26 hours.

President James Madison, military officials, and his government evacuated and were able to find refuge for the night in Brookeville, a small town in Montgomery County, Maryland; President Madison spent the night in the house of Caleb Bentley, a Quaker who lived and worked in Brookeville. Bentley's house, known today as the Madison House, still exists. Following the storm, the British returned to their ships, many of which required repairs due to the storm.

Naval battle on Lake Champlain, an engraving by B. Tanner in 1816, after a painting by Hugh Reinagle

British invasion repulsed

1814 Sep 6
, Plattsburgh

The Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, the Earl of Bathurst, sent instructions to Lieutenant-General Sir George Prévost, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada and Governor General of the Canadas, authorizing him to launch offensives into American territory, but cautioning him against advancing too far and thereby risking being cut off. Prévost determined to advance down the western, New York State, side of the lake. The main American position on this side was at Plattsburgh.

Two British forces, an army under Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and a naval squadron under Captain George Downie converged on the lakeside town of Plattsburgh, New York. Plattsburgh was defended by New York and Vermont militia and detachments of regular troops of the United States Army, all under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Macomb, and ships commanded by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough.

Downie's squadron attacked shortly after dawn on 11 September 1814, but was defeated after a hard fight in which Downie was killed. Prévost then abandoned the attack by land against Macomb's defences and retreated to Canada, stating that even if Plattsburgh was captured, any British troops there could not be supplied without control of the lake.

When the battle took place, American and British delegates were meeting at Ghent in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, attempting to negotiate a treaty acceptable to both sides to end the war. The American victory at Plattsburgh, and the successful defense at the Battle of Baltimore, which began the next day and halted British advances in the Mid-Atlantic states, denied the British negotiators leverage to demand any territorial claims against the United States on the basis of Uti possidetis, i.e. retaining territory they held at the end of hostilities.

Battle of Baltimore

Battle of Baltimore

1814 Sep 12
, Baltimore

The Battle of Baltimore (September 12–15, 1814) was a sea/land battle fought between British invaders and American defenders in the War of 1812. American forces repulsed sea and land invasions off the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading British forces. The British and Americans first met at the Battle of North Point. Though the Americans retreated, the battle was a successful delaying action that inflicted heavy casualties on the British, halted their advance, and consequently allowed the defenders at Baltimore to prepare for an attack properly. The resistance of Baltimore's Fort McHenry during bombardment by the Royal Navy inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem of the United States. Future US President James Buchanan served as a private in the defense of Baltimore.

Battle of Pensacola

Battle of Pensacola

1814 Nov 7
, Pensacola

The Battle of Pensacola (7-9 November 1814) was a battle of the Creek War during the War of 1812, in which American forces fought against forces from the kingdoms of Britain and Spain who were aided by the Creek Indians and African-American slaves allied with the British. General Andrew Jackson led his infantry against British and Spanish forces controlling the city of Pensacola in Spanish Florida. Allied forces abandoned the city, and the remaining Spanish forces surrendered to Jackson. The battle was the only engagement of the war to take place within the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Spain, which was angered by the rapid withdrawal of British forces. Britain's naval squadron of five warships also withdrew from the city.

"By the Eternal they shall not sleep on our soil." | ©Don Troiani

Battle of New Orleans

1815 Jan 8
, Near New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815 between the British Army under Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the United States Army under Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson, roughly 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the current suburb of Chalmette, Louisiana.

The battle was the climax of the five-month Gulf Campaign (September 1814 to February 1815) by Britain to try to take New Orleans, West Florida, and possibly Louisiana Territory which began at the First Battle of Fort Bowyer. Britain started the New Orleans campaign on December 14, 1814, at the Battle of Lake Borgne and numerous skirmishes and artillery duels happened in the weeks leading up to the final battle.

The battle took place 15 days after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which formally ended the War of 1812, on December 24, 1814, though it would not be ratified by the United States (and therefore did not take effect) until February 16, 1815, as news of the agreement had not yet reached the United States from Europe. Despite a large British advantage in numbers, training, and experience, the American forces defeated a poorly executed assault in slightly more than 30 minutes. The Americans suffered just 71 casualties, while the British suffered over 2,000, including the deaths of the commanding general, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham, and his second-in-command, Major General Samuel Gibbs.

Treaty of Ghent


1816 Jan 1
, New England

The Treaty of Ghent (8 Stat. 218) was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom. It took effect in February 1815. Both sides signed it on December 24, 1814, in the city of Ghent, United Netherlands (now in Belgium). The treaty restored relations between the two parties to status quo ante bellum by restoring the prewar borders of June 1812.

The border between the United States and Canada remained essentially unchanged by the war and the treaty that ended it addressed the original points of contention—and yet it changed much between the United States and Britain. The Treaty of Ghent established the status quo ante bellum. The issue of impressment became irrelevant when the Royal Navy no longer needed sailors and stopped impressing them.

Britain defeated the American invasions of Canada and its own invasion of the United States was defeated in Maryland, New York and New Orleans. After two decades of intense warfare against France, Britain was in no mood for more conflicts with the United States and focused on expanding the British Empire into India.

The Indian tribes allied to the British lost their cause. The indigenous nations lost most of their fur-trapping territory. Indigenous nations were displaced in Alabama, Georgia, New York and Oklahoma, losing most of what is now Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin within the Northwest Territory as well as in New York and the South.

The war is seldom remembered in Great Britain. The massive ongoing conflict in Europe against the French Empire under Napoleon ensured that the British did not consider the War of 1812 against the United States as more than a sideshow. Britain's blockade of French trade had been entirely successful, and the Royal Navy was the world's dominant nautical power (and remained so for another century). While the land campaigns had contributed to saving Canada, the Royal Navy had shut down American commerce, bottled up the United States Navy in port and widely suppressed privateering. British businesses, some affected by rising insurance costs, were demanding peace so that trade could resume with the United States. The peace was generally welcomed by the British. However, the two nations quickly resumed trade after the end of the war and a growing friendship over time.

This war enabled thousands of slaves to escape to freedom, despite the difficulties. The British helped numerous Black Refugees resettle in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where Black Loyalists had also been granted land after the American Revolutionary War.

Jackson invaded Florida in 1818, demonstrating to Spain that it could no longer control that territory with a small force. Spain sold Florida to the United States in 1819 under the Adams–Onís Treaty following the First Seminole War. Pratt concludes that "thus indirectly the War of 1812 brought about the acquisition of Florida. To both the Northwest and the South, therefore, the War of 1812 brought substantial benefits. It broke the power of the Creek Confederacy and opened to settlement a great province of the future Cotton Kingdom".


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