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1812 - 1815

War of 1812



The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States and its allies, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its dependent colonies in North America and its allies. Many native peoples fought in the war on both sides.


Tensions originated in long-standing differences over territorial expansion in North America and British support for Native American tribes who opposed US colonial settlement in the Northwest Territory. These escalated in 1807 after the Royal Navy began enforcing tighter restrictions on American trade with France and press-ganged men they claimed as British subjects, even those with American citizenship certificates.[1] Opinion in the US was split on how to respond, and although majorities in both the House and Senate voted for war, they divided along strict party lines, with the Democratic-Republican Party in favour and the Federalist Party against.[2] News of British concessions made in an attempt to avoid war did not reach the US until late July, by which time the conflict was already underway.


At sea, the far larger Royal Navy imposed an effective blockade on U.S. maritime trade, while between 1812 to 1814 British regulars and colonial militia defeated a series of American attacks on Upper Canada.[3] This was balanced by the US winning control of the Northwest Territory with victories at Lake Erie and the Thames in 1813. The abdication of Napoleon in early 1814 allowed the British to send additional troops to North America and the Royal Navy to reinforce their blockade, crippling the American economy.[4] In August 1814, negotiations began in Ghent, with both sides wanting peace; the British economy had been severely impacted by the trade embargo, while the Federalists convened the Hartford Convention in December to formalise their opposition to the war.


In August 1814, British troops burned Washington, before American victories at Baltimore and Plattsburgh in September ended fighting in the north. Fighting continued in the Southeastern United States, where in late 1813 a civil war had broken out between a Creek faction supported by Spanish and British traders and those backed by the US. Supported by US militia under General Andrew Jackson, the American backed Creeks won a series of victories, culminating in the capture of Pensacola in November 1814. In early 1815, Jackson defeated a British attack on New Orleans, catapulting him to national celebrity and later victory in the 1828 United States presidential election. News of this success arrived in Washington at the same time as that of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which essentially restored the position to that prevailing before the war. While Britain insisted this included lands belonging to their Native American allies prior to 1811, Congress did not recognize them as independent nations and neither side sought to enforce this requirement.

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1803 - 1812
Causes and Outbreak of War
ornament
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1811 Jan 1

Prologue

New York, USA

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).[26]
  2. The impressment (forced recruitment) of seamen on US vessels into the Royal Navy (the British claimed that they were British deserters).[27]
  3. The British military support for American Indians who were offering armed resistance to the expansion of the American frontier to the Northwest Territory.[28]
  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.[29]
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1811 Nov 7

Battle of Tippecanoe

Battle Ground, Tippecanoe Coun

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
James Madison ©John Vanderlyn
1812 Jun 1 - Aug

Declaration of War

London, UK

In June 1812, President James Madison sent a message to Congress detailing American grievances against Great Britain, although he did not explicitly call for a declaration of war. After four days of deliberation, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a war declaration with a close margin, marking the first time the United States had declared war on another nation. The conflict centered on maritime issues, particularly British blockades. Federalists strongly opposed the war, and it was dubbed "Mr. Madison's War."


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval's assassination in London on May 11 led to a change in British leadership, with Lord Liverpool coming to power. He sought a more practical relationship with the United States and, on June 23, issued a repeal of the Orders in Council. However, communication in those times was slow, and it took weeks for this news to cross the Atlantic. On June 28, 1812, HMS Colibri was dispatched from Halifax to New York under a flag of truce, carrying a copy of the declaration of war, British ambassador Augustus Foster, and consul Colonel Thomas Henry Barclay. It took even longer for the news of the declaration to reach London.


In the midst of these developments, British commander Isaac Brock in Upper Canada received news of the war declaration promptly. He issued a proclamation urging vigilance among citizens and military personnel to prevent communication with the enemy. He also ordered offensive operations against American forces in northern Michigan, who were unaware of their own government's declaration of war. The Siege of Fort Mackinac on July 17, 1812, became the first major land engagement of the war and ended in a decisive British victory.

1812 - 1813
Early American Offensives and Canadian Campaigns
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US Planned Invasion of Canada
US troops during the War of 1812 ©H. Charles McBarron Jr.
1812 Jul 1

US Planned Invasion of Canada

Ontario, Canada

The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain witnessed several American attempts to invade and conquer Canada. The three-point planned invasion of Canada by the U.S. involved three main routes:


  1. Detroit-Windsor Corridor: The U.S. planned to invade Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) by crossing the Detroit River. However, this plan was thwarted when British and Native American forces, under the leadership of Major General Isaac Brock and Shawnee leader Tecumseh, defeated American troops and captured Detroit.
  2. Niagara Peninsula: Another crucial entry point was the Niagara Peninsula. American forces aimed to cross the Niagara River and control the region. While there were skirmishes and battles, including the famous Battle of Queenston Heights, the U.S. couldn't establish a firm foothold.
  3. Lake Champlain and Montreal: The third invasion route was from the northeast, targeting Montreal through the Lake Champlain route. This invasion attempt also met with limited success, as the British managed to repulse American advances.
Hull's Invasion of Canada
Hull's Invasion of Canada. ©Anonymous
1812 Jul 12

Hull's Invasion of Canada

Windsor, Ontario

An American army commanded by William Hull invaded Upper Canada on July 12, arriving at Sandwich (Windsor, Ontario) after crossing the Detroit River.[5] His forces were chiefly composed of untrained and ill-disciplined militiamen.[6] Hull issued a proclamation ordering all British subjects to surrender, or "the horrors, and calamities of war will stalk before you".[7] 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".[8] He also threatened to kill any British soldier caught fighting alongside indigenous fighters.[7] 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.[9]


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.[10]

Siege of Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac, Michigan ©HistoryMaps
1812 Jul 17

Siege of Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

The Siege of Fort Mackinac marked one of the initial confrontations of the War of 1812, where a combined British and Native American force captured Mackinac Island shortly after the war's outbreak. Mackinac Island, situated between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, was a vital U.S. fur trading post with influence over Native tribes in the region. British and Canadian traders had long resented its cession to the United States following the American Revolutionary War. The fur trade played a crucial role in the local economy, drawing Native Americans from modern-day Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to trade furs for goods. As war loomed, many Native American tribes opposed American westward expansion and were eager to join forces with the British.


Major General Isaac Brock, the British commander in Upper Canada, acted swiftly upon learning of the outbreak of war and ordered the capture of Fort Mackinac. Captain Charles Roberts, stationed at St. Joseph Island, assembled a diverse force, including British soldiers, Canadian fur traders, Native Americans, and recruited tribes from Wisconsin. Their surprise attack on Mackinac Island on July 17, 1812, caught the American garrison off guard. A single cannon shot and a flag of truce led to the fort's surrender without a fight. The island's inhabitants swore allegiance to the United Kingdom, and British control of Mackinac Island and northern Michigan remained largely unchallenged until 1814.


The capture of Fort Mackinac had broader implications for the war effort. It led to the abandonment of Brigadier General William Hull's invasion of Canadian territory, as the mere threat of Native American reinforcements prompted him to retreat to Detroit. The loss of Mackinac also swayed other Native communities to support the British cause, influencing the U.S. surrender at the Siege of Detroit. While British control persisted in the region for some time, challenges arose in 1814, leading to confrontations such as the Battle of Mackinac Island and engagements on Lake Huron.

First Battle of Sacket's Harbor
The Attack on Sacketts Harbour ©HistoryMaps
1812 Jul 19

First Battle of Sacket's Harbor

Sackets Harbor, New York

Both the United States and the British Empire placed great importance on gaining control of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River because of the difficulties of land-based communication. The British already had a small squadron of warships on Lake Ontario when the war began and had the initial advantage. The Americans established a Navy yard at Sackett's Harbor, New York, a port on Lake Ontario. Commodore Isaac Chauncey took charge of the thousands of sailors and shipwrights assigned there and recruited more from New York.


On July 19, 1812, Captain Melancthon Taylor Woolsey, of USS Oneida, discovered from the masthead of his brig five enemy vessels sailing up to Sacket's Harbor. They demanded the surrender of American ships, including USS Oneida and a captured merchant vessel, Lord Nelson. The British threatened to burn the village if met with resistance. The battle commenced when the British fired at USS Oneida, which attempted to escape but ultimately returned to Navy Point. American forces, led by Captain Melancthon Taylor Woolsey, engaged the British, utilizing a 32-pounder cannon and makeshift defenses.


The engagement involved a brisk exchange of fire, with both sides inflicting damage on each other's vessels. However, a well-placed shot from the American side struck the flagship Royal George, causing significant damage and prompting the British fleet to retreat to Kingston, Upper Canada. The American troops celebrated their victory with cheers and "Yankee Doodle." General Jacob Brown attributed the success to various officers and the crew of the 32-pounder.


The First Battle of Sacket's Harbor, occurring on July 19, 1812, marked the initial engagement of the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire.

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1812 Aug 12

Siege of Detroit

Detroit, MI, USA

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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1812 Aug 19

Old Ironsides

Atlantic Ocean

The USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerriere battle occurred on August 19, 1812, during the War of 1812, approximately 400 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The engagement marked a significant early naval clash between the United States and the British Empire. HMS Guerriere, detached from a previous squadron that had failed to capture USS Constitution, encountered the American frigate, confident of victory despite being outgunned and outnumbered.


The battle saw intense exchanges of broadsides between the two vessels. Constitution's superior firepower and thicker hull inflicted substantial damage on Guerriere. After a prolonged engagement, Guerriere's masts fell, rendering her helpless. Both ships attempted to board each other, but rough seas prevented successful boarding. Ultimately, Constitution continued the fight and Guerriere's foremast and mainmast also fell, leaving the British frigate incapacitated.


Captain Hull of Constitution offered assistance to Guerriere's Captain Dacres and spared him the indignity of surrendering his sword. Guerriere, beyond salvage, was set on fire and destroyed. This victory significantly boosted American morale and patriotism, despite the military insignificance of Guerriere's loss in the context of the Royal Navy's vast fleet. The battle was a pivotal moment in American naval history and fueled American pride in defeating the Royal Navy in what was perceived as a fair fight, contributing to the war effort's renewed public support. Captain Dacres was acquitted of wrongdoing, and the battle became a symbol of American resilience and naval prowess.

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1812 Sep 1

British Blockade during the War of 1812

Atlantic Ocean

The naval blockade of the United States began informally in the late fall of 1812. Under the command of British Admiral John Borlase Warren, it extended from South Carolina to Florida.[15] 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.[16] In May 1814, following the abdication of Napoleon and the end of the supply problems with Wellington's army, New England was blockaded.[17]


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.[16] 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.[18] 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.[19]


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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] In 1814, only 1 out of 14 American merchantmen risked leaving port as it was likely that any ship leaving port would be seized.[25]

Battle of Queenston Heights
2nd Regiment of York Militia at the Battle of Queenston Heights. ©John David Kelly
1812 Oct 13

Battle of Queenston Heights

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.

Battle of Lacolle Mills
©Anonymous
1812 Nov 20

Battle of Lacolle Mills

Lacolle, QC, Canada

The third American invasion force totalling about 2,000 regulars and 3,000 militia was assembled and led by Major General Henry Dearborn. However, a delay of several months after the American declaration of war meant that the advance would only begin with the onset of winter. Moreover, since about half of the American militia refused to advance into Lower Canada, Dearborn was hamstrung from the outset from utilizing all of his forces. Nevertheless, his forces still far outnumbered the Crown allies on the other side of the border and American Colonel Zebulon Pike crossed the border into Lower Canada with an advance party of about 650 regulars and a party of Aboriginal warriors. These were to be followed by additional American forces. The advance party were initially met by only a small force of 25 Canadian militiamen, from the 1st Battalion Select Embodied Militia, and 15 Aboriginal warriors. Clearly outnumbered, the Crown forces withdrew, allowing the Americans to advance on the guardhouse and several buildings. In the dark, Pike's forces became engaged with a second group of New York militia, both sides mistaking each other for the enemy. The result was a fierce firefight between two groups of American forces at the guardhouse. In the aftermath of this confusion, and amidst war cries from reinforcing Crown-allied Mohawk warriors, the shaken American forces retreated to Champlain and then from Lower Canada completely.[30]


The American effort directed at Montreal in 1812 suffered from poor preparation and coordination. However, the logistical challenges involved in advancing a large force toward Montreal at the start of the winter were significant. After the attack, de Salaberry evacuated the Lacolle area and destroyed farms and houses which the Americans had evidently planned to use, since they lacked tents for shelter against the winter elements.[31] Faced with a significant logistical challenge and in the face of setbacks, Dearborn abandoned his perfunctory plans and the demoralized American forces would not attempt this assault again until 1814 in the Second Battle of Lacolle Mills.

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1813 Jan 18

Battle of Frenchtown

Frenchtown, Michigan Territory

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. On January 18, 1813, the Americans forced the retreat of the British and their Native American allies from Frenchtown, which they had earlier occupied, in a relatively minor skirmish. The movement was part of a larger United States plan to advance north and retake Fort Detroit, following its loss in the Siege of Detroit the previous summer. Despite this initial success, the British and Native Americans rallied and launched a surprise counterattack four days later on January 22. Ill-prepared, the Americans lost 397 soldiers in this second battle, while 547 were taken prisoner. Dozens of wounded prisoners were murdered the next day in a massacre by the Native Americans. More prisoners were killed if they could not keep up on the forced march to Fort Malden. This was the deadliest conflict recorded on Michigan soil, and the casualties included the highest number of Americans killed in a single battle during the War of 1812.[32]

Battle of Ogdensburg
The Glengarry Light Infantry attacks across the frozen river at the 1813 Battle of Ogdensburg. ©Anonymous
1813 Feb 22

Battle of Ogdensburg

Ontario, Canada

The Battle of Ogdensburg, which occurred during the War of 1812, resulted in a British victory over American forces and the capture of the village of Ogdensburg, New York. The conflict arose from an illicit trade route established between Ogdensburg and Prescott, Upper Canada (now part of Ontario), along the Saint Lawrence River. American militia, reinforced by regular troops, had occupied a fort and barracks in Ogdensburg and engaged in occasional raids on British supply lines.


In February 1813, British Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost passed through Prescott, assessing the situation in Upper Canada. He appointed Lieutenant Colonel "Red George" MacDonell to command British troops in Prescott and ordered an attack on Ogdensburg if the American garrison weakened. Using reinforcements temporarily stationed in Prescott, MacDonell improvised an attack plan. The battle saw British forces charging towards Ogdensburg, catching the Americans by surprise. Despite initial resistance and some artillery fire from the Americans, British forces overran the town, leading to American retreat and capture.


The British victory at Ogdensburg removed the American threat to British supply lines in the region for the remainder of the war. British forces burned American gunboats and captured military supplies while some looting occurred. Although the battle had relatively small-scale military significance, it allowed the British to continue purchasing supplies from American merchants in Ogdensburg during the war. The event also highlighted the presence of Tories and Federalists in the Ogdensburg area and had lasting implications for the region's dynamics.

Chesapeake Campaign
Chesapeake campaign ©Graham Turner
1813 Mar 1 - 1814 Sep

Chesapeake Campaign

Chesapeake Bay, United States

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.[33] 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.[34]


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.

Oliver Hazard Perry builds Lake Erie fleet
©Anonymous
1813 Mar 27

Oliver Hazard Perry builds Lake Erie fleet

Lake Erie

At the beginning of the War of 1812, the British Royal Navy controlled the Great Lakes, except for Lake Huron. The United States Navy controlled Lake Champlain.[44] The American naval forces were very small, allowing the British to make many advances in the Great Lakes and northern New York waterways. Oliver Perry was given command of the American naval forces on Lake Erie during the war. Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton had charged prominent merchant seaman Daniel Dobbins with building the American fleet on Presque Isle Bay at Erie, Pennsylvania, and Perry was named chief naval officer.[45]

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1813 Apr 27

Battle of York

Toronto, ON, Canada

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 Ojibwe natives under the overall command of Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.


Sheaffe's forces were defeated and Sheaffe retreated with his surviving regulars to Kingston, abandoning the militia and civilians. The Americans captured the fort, town, and dockyard. They themselves suffered heavy casualties, including force leader Brigadier General Zebulon Pike and others killed when the retreating British blew up the fort's magazine.[35] The American forces subsequently carried out several acts of arson and looting in the town before they withdrew several days later. Although the Americans won a clear victory, the battle did not have decisive strategic results as York was a less important objective in military terms than Kingston, where the British armed vessels on Lake Ontario were based.

Burning of York
Burning of York, Canada 1813. ©HistoryMaps
1813 Apr 28 - Apr 30

Burning of York

Toronto, ON, Canada

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. It was alleged that the American troops had found a scalp there,[36] though folklore had it that the "scalp" was actually the Speaker's wig. 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.[37] 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.[38] Before they departed from York, the Americans razed most of the structures in the fort, except the barracks.[39]


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.[40] 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.[41]


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.[42] 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.[43]

Siege of Fort Meigs
Fort Meigs ©HistoryMaps
1813 Apr 28 - May 9

Siege of Fort Meigs

Perrysburg, Ohio, USA

The Siege of Fort Meigs in late April to early May 1813 was a pivotal event during the War of 1812, occurring in present-day Perrysburg, Ohio. It marked the British Army's attempt to capture Fort Meigs, a newly constructed American fort, to thwart an American offensive aimed at reclaiming Detroit, which the British had captured the previous year. Following the surrender of General William Hull in Detroit, General William Henry Harrison took command of the American forces and began fortifying the region, including the construction of Fort Meigs. The siege unfolded when British forces, led by Major General Henry Procter and supported by Native American warriors, arrived at the Maumee River.


The siege began with British forces setting up batteries on both sides of the river, while Native American allies encircled the fort. The American garrison, under Harrison's command, faced intense shelling, but the fort's earthen defenses absorbed much of the damage. On May 5, 1813, an American sortie took place, with Colonel William Dudley leading an attack on British batteries on the north bank of the river. However, the mission ended in disaster, with Dudley's men facing heavy casualties, including being captured by the British and their Native American allies. On the south bank, American forces managed to capture a British battery temporarily, but the British counterattacked, driving them back into the fort.


Ultimately, the siege was lifted on May 9, 1813, as Procter's forces, including Canadian militia and Native American allies, dwindled due to desertion and a lack of supplies. Terms were arranged for the exchange of prisoners, and the siege came to an end. The casualty count for the entire siege included 160 Americans killed, 190 wounded, 100 wounded prisoners, 530 other prisoners, and 6 missing, totaling 986 in all. The siege of Fort Meigs was a significant episode in the War of 1812, and while the British failed to capture the fort, it showcased the determination and resilience of both American and British forces in the Great Lakes region.

Battle of Craney Island
Royal Marines. ©Marc Sardelli
1813 Jun 22

Battle of Craney Island

Craney Island, Portsmouth, VA,

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 Beaver Dams
Laura Secord warning Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon of an impending American attack, June 1813. ©Lorne Kidd Smith
1813 Jun 24

Battle of Beaver Dams

Thorold, Ontario, Canada

The Battle of Beaver Dams, which occurred on June 24, 1813, during the War of 1812, was a significant engagement where a column of United States Army troops attempted to surprise a British outpost at Beaver Dams in present-day Ontario, Canada. The American force, led by Colonel Charles Boerstler, had advanced from Fort George with the intention of attacking the British outpost at DeCou's house. However, their plans were thwarted when Laura Secord, a resident of Queenston, learned of the American intentions from officers billeted at her house. She embarked on a perilous journey to warn the British.


As the American troops proceeded toward DeCou's, they were ambushed by a combined force of Kahnawake and other Native American warriors, as well as British regulars, all under the command of Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. The Native American warriors were primarily Mohawks and played a significant role in the ambush. After encountering fierce resistance and facing the threat of being surrounded, Colonel Boerstler was wounded, and the American force eventually surrendered to Lieutenant FitzGibbon.


The casualties for the battle included around 25 Americans killed and 50 wounded, mostly among the prisoners. On the British and Native American side, reports vary, with estimates of around five chiefs and warriors killed and 20 wounded. The outcome of the Battle of Beaver Dams significantly demoralized the American force at Fort George, and they became hesitant to venture far from the fort. This engagement, along with subsequent events, contributed to a period of British dominance in the region during the War of 1812. Laura Secord's courageous journey to warn the British has also become a celebrated part of Canadian history.

Creek War
The United States formed an alliance with the traditional enemies of the Muscogee, the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations. ©HistoryMaps
1813 Jul 22 - 1814 Aug 9

Creek War

Alabama, USA

The Creek War was a regional conflict between opposing Native American factions, European powers, and the United States during the early 19th century. The Creek War began as a conflict within the tribes of the Muscogee, but the United States quickly became involved. British traders and Spanish colonial officials in Florida supplied the Red Sticks with weapons and equipment due to their shared interest in preventing the expansion of the United States into regions under their control.


The Creek War took place largely in modern-day Alabama and along the Gulf Coast. Major engagements of the war involved the United States military and the Red Sticks (or Upper Creeks), a Muscogee tribal faction who resisted U.S. colonial expansion. The United States formed an alliance with the traditional enemies of the Muscogee, the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations, as well as the Lower Creeks faction of the Muscogee. During the hostilities, the Red Sticks allied themselves to the British. A Red Stick force aided British Naval Officer Alexander Cochrane's advance towards New Orleans. The Creek War effectively ended in August 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, when Andrew Jackson forced the Creek confederacy to surrender more than 21 million acres in what is now southern Georgia and central Alabama. The war was also a continuation of Tecumseh's War in the Old Northwest, and, although a conflict framed within the centuries-long American Indian Wars, it is usually more identified with, and considered an integral part of, the War of 1812 by historians.

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1813 Sep 10

Battle of Lake Erie

Lake Erie

The Battle of Lake Erie was a pivotal naval engagement during the War of 1812 that took place on September 10, 1813, on Lake Erie, near Ohio. In this battle, nine vessels of the United States Navy, commanded by Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, decisively defeated and captured six vessels of the British Royal Navy under Captain Robert Heriot Barclay. This American victory secured control of Lake Erie for the United States for the remainder of the war and played a crucial role in subsequent land campaigns.


The battle began with both American and British squadrons forming lines of battle. The British initially held the weather gauge, but a shift in the wind allowed Perry's squadron to close in on the enemy. The engagement began at 11:45 with the first shot fired by the British vessel Detroit. The American flagship, Lawrence, came under heavy fire and sustained significant damage. After transferring his flag to the still-operable Niagara, Perry continued the fight. Eventually, the British ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte, along with others, surrendered to the American forces, marking a decisive victory for the United States.


The Battle of Lake Erie had significant strategic importance. It ensured American control of the lake, preventing British reinforcements and supplies from reaching their forces in the region. This victory also paved the way for subsequent American successes, including the recovery of Detroit and the victory at the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh's Indian confederation was defeated. The battle showcased Perry's leadership and the effectiveness of the American squadron, which was crucial in securing this crucial body of water during the war.

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1813 Oct 5

Battle of Thames

Chatham-Kent, ON, Canada

The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, occurred on October 5, 1813, during the War of 1812 in Upper Canada, near Chatham. It resulted in a decisive American victory over the British and their Indigenous allies led by Shawnee leader Tecumseh. The British, under Major General Henry Procter, had been forced to retreat north from Detroit due to the loss of control over Lake Erie to the United States Navy, cutting off their supplies. Tecumseh's confederation of Indigenous tribes was a crucial part of the British alliance.


American forces, led by Major General William Henry Harrison, pursued the retreating British and engaged them in battle near the Thames River. The British position was poorly fortified, and Tecumseh's warriors attempted to flank the American forces but were overwhelmed. The British regulars were demoralized, and the American cavalry played a key role in breaking through their lines. During the battle, Tecumseh was killed, which dealt a significant blow to his confederacy. Ultimately, the British forces retreated, and the American control of the Detroit area was re-established.


The Battle of the Thames had a profound impact on the war. It led to the collapse of Tecumseh's confederation and the loss of British control over Southwestern Ontario. General Procter was later court-martialed for his poor leadership during the retreat and battle. The death of Tecumseh marked the end of a powerful Indigenous alliance and contributed to the overall decline of British influence in the region.

Battle of the Chateauguay
Battle of the Chateauguay. ©Henri Julien
1813 Oct 26

Battle of the Chateauguay

Ormstown, Québec, Canada

The Battle of Chateauguay, fought on October 26, 1813, during the War of 1812, saw a combined British and Canadian force, led by Charles de Salaberry, successfully defend against an American invasion of Lower Canada (now Quebec). The American plan was to capture Montreal, a key strategic objective, by advancing from two directions—one division descending the St. Lawrence River and the other moving north from Lake Champlain. Major General Wade Hampton led the American forces around Lake Champlain, but he faced numerous challenges, including poorly trained troops, inadequate supplies, and disputes with fellow American commander Major General James Wilkinson.


On the day of the battle, Hampton decided to send Colonel Robert Purdy with 1,500 men to cross the Chateauguay River and outflank the British position, while Brigadier General George Izard attacked from the front. However, the operation was fraught with difficulties, including challenging terrain and harsh weather. Purdy's force became lost and encountered the Canadian defenders led by Captain Daly and Captain Brugière. The Canadians engaged the Americans, causing confusion and forcing them to withdraw. Meanwhile, Izard's troops attempted to use conventional tactics against the Canadian defenders but were met with accurate fire. A supposed offer of surrender from an American officer led to his death, and the Canadian defenders, with bugle calls and war whoops, created the impression of a larger force, causing the Americans to retreat.


Casualties in the battle were relatively light for both sides, with the Canadians reporting 2 killed, 16 wounded, and 4 missing, while the Americans recorded 23 killed, 33 wounded, and 29 missing. The battle had a significant impact on the American campaign to capture Montreal, as it led to a council of war that concluded a renewed advance was unlikely to succeed. Additionally, logistical challenges, including impassable roads and dwindling supplies, contributed to the decision to abandon the campaign. The Battle of Chateauguay, along with the Battle of Crysler's Farm, marked the end of the American Saint Lawrence Campaign in the autumn of 1813.

Battle of Crysler's Farm
Battle of Crysler's Farm. ©Anonymous
1813 Nov 11

Battle of Crysler's Farm

Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada

The Battle of Crysler's Farm marked a decisive British and Canadian victory over a larger American force, prompting the Americans to abandon their St. Lawrence Campaign, which aimed to capture Montreal. The American campaign was beset with difficulties, including inadequate supplies, mistrust among officers, and unfavorable weather conditions. The British, led by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison, effectively countered the American advance.


The battle itself unfolded in challenging conditions, with cold rain and confusion among both sides. American Brigadier General Boyd, who assumed command, ordered an assault in the afternoon. The American attack was met with determined resistance from British and Canadian forces, leading to disarray among the American troops. Ultimately, most of the American army retreated in confusion to their boats and crossed the river to the American side. Casualties on both sides were significant, with the British suffering 31 killed and 148 wounded, while the Americans reported 102 killed and 237 wounded. The battle's outcome marked the end of the American threat to Montreal and had significant consequences for the war in the region.

Capture of Fort Niagara
©Graham Turner
1813 Dec 19

Capture of Fort Niagara

Fort Niagara, Youngstown, NY,

Fort Niagara, a strategically important American outpost near the Niagara River's outlet into Lake Ontario, had been weakened by the withdrawal of most regular American soldiers to participate in an attack on Montreal. This left Brigadier General George McClure with a small and undermanned garrison at the fort. The situation worsened when McClure ordered the burning of the nearby village of Niagara, creating a pretext for British retaliation.


British Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond seized the opportunity to retake Fort Niagara and ordered a surprise night assault in December 1813. A force of British regulars and militia, led by Colonel John Murray, crossed the Niagara River above the fort. They captured American pickets and advanced silently towards the fort. Resistance from the American defenders, which included a stand at the South Redoubt, was fierce. Ultimately, the British forces breached the defenses and, in a brutal turn, bayoneted many of the defenders. The British reported minimal casualties, with six killed and five wounded, while American casualties were significant, with at least 65 killed and many more wounded or taken prisoner.


Following the capture of Fort Niagara, British forces under Major General Phineas Riall advanced further into American territory, burning villages and engaging American forces at the Battle of Lewiston and the Battle of Buffalo. Fort Niagara remained in British possession until the end of the war. The capture of Fort Niagara and the subsequent reprisals marked a turning point in the War of 1812 and had lasting consequences for the Niagara region. Fort Niagara remained in British possession until the end of the war.

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1814 Mar 27

Battle of Horseshoe Bend

Dadeville, Alabama, USA

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.

1814
British Counteroffensives
ornament
Napoleon's First Abdication
Napoleon's First Abdication, April 11, 1814. ©Gaetano Ferri
1814 Apr 11

Napoleon's First Abdication

Paris, France

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.

Battle of Chippawa
Brig Gen Winfield Scott leading his infantry brigade forward during the battle ©H. Charles McBarron Jr.
1814 Jul 5

Battle of Chippawa

Chippawa, Upper Canada (presen

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.

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1814 Jul 25

Battle of Lundy's Lane

Upper Canada Drive, Niagara Fa

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, also known as the Battle of Niagara, occurred on July 25, 1814, during the War of 1812. It took place near present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario, and was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The American forces, led by Major General Jacob Brown, were facing off against British and Canadian troops. The battle ended in a brutal stalemate, with heavy casualties on both sides, including approximately 258 killed and a total of about 1,720 casualties.


The battle saw several phases of intense fighting. Brigadier General Winfield Scott's American brigade clashed with British artillery, suffering heavy losses. However, Major Thomas Jesup's 25th U.S. Infantry managed to outflank the British and Canadian units, causing confusion and pushing them back. Later, Lieutenant Colonel James Miller's 21st U.S. Infantry made a daring bayonet charge, capturing British guns and driving the British center from the hill. British Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond mounted several counter-attacks, but they were repelled by the American forces.


By midnight, both sides were exhausted and severely depleted. American casualties were high, and Brown ordered a retreat to Fort Erie. The British, while still having a significant presence on the battlefield, were in no condition to interfere with the American withdrawal. The battle had strategic implications, as it forced the Americans to fall back and lose their initiative on the Niagara Peninsula. It was a hard-fought engagement with significant casualties, making it one of the deadliest battles fought in Canada during the War of 1812.

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1814 Jul 26 - Aug 4

Battle of Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA

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.

Peace Negotiations begin
Peace Negotiations begin. ©HistoryMaps
1814 Aug 1

Peace Negotiations begin

Ghent, Belgium

After rejecting American proposals to broker peace negotiations, Britain reversed course in 1814. With the defeat of Napoleon, the main British goals of stopping American trade with France and impressment of sailors from American ships were dead letters. President Madison informed Congress that the United States could no longer demand an end to impressment from the British, and he formally dropped the demand from the peace process. Despite the British no longer needing to impress sailors, its maritime rights were not infringed, a key goal also maintained at the Treaty of Vienna. Negotiations began in Ghent, Netherlands, in August 1814. The Americans sent five commissioners: John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, James A. Bayard, Sr., Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin. All were senior political leaders except Russell; Adams was in charge. The British sent minor officials, who kept in close touch with their superiors in London. The British government's main diplomatic focus in 1814 was not ending the war in North America but the European balance of power after the apparent defeat of Napoleonic France and the return to power in Paris of the pro-British Bourbons.

Siege of Fort Erie
British storming the Northeast Bastion of Fort Erie, during their failed night assault on August 14, 1814. ©E.C Watmough
1814 Aug 4 - Sep 21

Siege of Fort Erie

Ontario, Canada

The Americans, led by Major General Jacob Brown, had initially captured Fort Erie and later faced a British force commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond. The British had suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Lundy's Lane, but Drummond aimed to drive the Americans out of the Canadian side of the Niagara River.


The siege of Fort Erie was marked by a series of unsuccessful British attacks on the American defenses. On the night of August 15/16, Drummond launched a three-pronged assault on the fort, aiming to capture American batteries and the fort itself. However, the American defenders put up a fierce resistance, causing high casualties among the British forces. The attackers faced determined opposition from American troops under General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley at Snake Hill and other fortified positions. Despite suffering heavy losses, the British were unable to breach the American defenses.


Subsequent attacks by British columns under Colonel Hercules Scott and Lieutenant Colonel William Drummond also met with significant losses, particularly during Drummond's assault on the fort, where a massive explosion of the fort's magazine caused further devastation. In total, the British suffered around 57 killed, 309 wounded, and 537 missing during the siege. The American garrison at Fort Erie reported 17 killed, 56 wounded, and 11 missing. Unknown to the Americans, Drummond had already decided to lift the siege, and the British forces withdrew on the night of September 21, citing heavy rain, illness, and lack of supplies as reasons for ending the campaign. This marked one of the last British offensives along the northern border during the War of 1812.

Treaty of Fort Jackson
Treaty with the Creeks, Fort Jackson, 1814 ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1814 Aug 9

Treaty of Fort Jackson

Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park, We

The Treaty of Fort Jackson, signed on the banks of the Tallapoosa River during the War of 1812, was a crucial event with significant implications for both the Creek War and the broader context of the War of 1812. General Andrew Jackson led American forces, supported by Cherokee and Lower Creek allies, to victory in this battle. The treaty compelled the Creek Nation to surrender a vast territory of 23 million acres, including their remaining lands in Georgia and central Alabama, to the United States government. In the context of the War of 1812, this treaty marked a turning point as it effectively ended the Creek War, allowing General Jackson to continue southwest to Louisiana, where he defeated the British forces at the Battle of New Orleans. 

Battle of Bladensburg
Embrace of the Enemies. ©L.H. Barker
1814 Aug 24

Battle of Bladensburg

Bladensburg, Maryland, USA

The Battle of Bladensburg, which took place on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, was a significant conflict that resulted in a humiliating defeat for the United States. A British force, including army regulars and Royal Marines, routed a combined American force of Regular Army and state militia troops.


The battle itself was marked by tactical errors on the American side, disorganization, and a lack of preparation. The British forces, led by Ross, advanced swiftly and defeated the American defenders, resulting in a retreat and the subsequent burning of Washington, D.C. Despite heavier casualties, the British achieved a decisive victory, while the American forces faced criticism and labeled the battle as a disgrace in their history. This defeat had a lasting impact on the course of the War of 1812 and American perceptions of their military capabilities during that time.

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1814 Aug 25

Burning of Washington

Washington, D.C.

The Burning of Washington was a British invasion of Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, during the Chesapeake campaign of the War of 1812. It was the only time since the American Revolutionary War that a foreign power has captured and occupied the capital of the United States. Following the defeat of an American force at the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, a British army led by Major-General Robert Ross marched on Washington City. That night, his forces set fire to multiple government and military buildings, including the Presidential Mansion and the United States Capitol.[46]


The attack was in part a retaliation for prior American actions in British-held Upper Canada, in which U.S. forces had burned and looted York the previous year and had then burnt large portions of Port Dover.[47] 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 British occupation of Washington lasted for roughly 26 hours.[48]


President James Madison, along with his administration and several military officials, 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.

1814 - 1815
Southern Campaign
ornament
Battle of Plattsburgh
Macomb watches the naval battle. ©Anonymous
1814 Sep 6 - Sep 11

Battle of Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh, NY, USA

The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final British invasion of the northern states of the United States during the War of 1812. 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.[51] The Treaty of Ghent, in which captured or occupied territories were restored on the basis of status quo ante bellum, i.e., the situation as it existed before the war, was signed three months after the battle. However, this battle may have had little or no impact in advancing the objectives of either side.

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1814 Sep 12

Battle of Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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
©H. Charles McBarron Jr.
1814 Nov 7

Battle of Pensacola

Pensacola, FL, USA

American forces, led by General Andrew Jackson, found themselves pitted against a coalition of British and Spanish forces, supported by Creek Indians and African-American slaves allied with the British.[49] The focal point of the battle was the city of Pensacola in Spanish Florida.


General Jackson and his infantry launched an assault on the British and Spanish-controlled city, resulting in the eventual abandonment of Pensacola by the allied forces. In the aftermath, the remaining Spanish troops surrendered to Jackson. Notably, this battle took place within the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Spain, which was displeased by the swift withdrawal of the British forces. As a result, Britain's naval squadron, consisting of five warships, also departed from the city.[50]


The Battle of Pensacola marked a critical moment in the Creek War and the broader War of 1812. Jackson's victory not only secured American control over the region but also underscored the complexity of alliances and territorial disputes during this period, involving the United States, Britain, Spain, Creek Indians, and even African-American slaves who sought freedom by siding with the British.

Hartford Convention
Hartford Convention of 1814. ©HistoryMaps
1814 Dec 15 - 1815 Jan 5

Hartford Convention

Hartford, Connecticut, USA

The Hartford Convention was a series of meetings from December 15, 1814, to January 5, 1815, in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, in which New England leaders of the Federalist Party met to discuss their grievances concerning the ongoing War of 1812 and the political problems arising from the federal government's increasing power.


This convention discussed removing the three-fifths compromise and requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for the admission of new states, declarations of war, and creating laws restricting trade. The Federalists also discussed their grievances with the Louisiana Purchase and the Embargo of 1807. However, weeks after the convention's end, news of Major General Andrew Jackson's overwhelming victory in New Orleans swept over the Northeast, discrediting and disgracing the Federalists, resulting in their elimination as a major national political force.


The convention was controversial at the time, and many historians consider it a contributing factor to the downfall of the Federalist Party. There are many reasons for this, not least of which was the suggestion that the states of New England, the Federalists' main base, secede from the United States union and create a new country. Historians generally doubt that the convention was seriously considering this.

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1815 Jan 8

Battle of New Orleans

Near New Orleans, Louisiana

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.

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1815 Feb 17

Epilogue

New England, USA

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".


Following the conclusion of the War of 1812, the cotton industry in the United States experienced a significant surge. The war had disrupted trade with Europe, leading Americans to focus on developing their domestic industries. As European demand for American cotton grew, the South saw an opportunity to expand its agricultural base. Innovations like the cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney in 1793, made the processing of short-staple cotton more efficient, further fueling the industry's growth. Vast expanses of land in the southern states were converted to cotton plantations, leading to a surge in the domestic slave trade to meet the labor demands. As a result, by the mid-19th century, cotton had become the United States' leading export, solidifying its role in the global economy and intensifying the nation's dependency on slave labor. This boom set the stage for the economic and social dynamics that would eventually lead to the American Civil War.

Appendices



APPENDIX 1

War of 1812


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APPENDIX 2

Military Medicine in the War of 1812


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APPENDIX 3

Blacks In The War of 1812


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APPENDIX 4

The United States Navy - Barbary Pirates to The War of 1812


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APPENDIX 5

The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes


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APPENDIX 6

War of 1812 in the Old Northwest


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APPENDIX 7

War of 1812 – Animated map


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APPENDIX 8

The Brown Bess Musket in the War of 1812


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Characters



William Hull

William Hull

American soldier

Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott

American Military Commander

Henry Dearborn

Henry Dearborn

United States Secretary of War

Robert Jenkinson

Robert Jenkinson

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

President of the United States

John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun

Secretary of War

Tecumseh

Tecumseh

Shawnee Chief

Isaac Brock

Isaac Brock

Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada

Thomas Macdonough

Thomas Macdonough

American Naval Officer

Laura Secord

Laura Secord

Canadian Heroine

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

American General

Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key

United States Attorney

John Rodgers

John Rodgers

United States Navy officer

Robert Ross

Robert Ross

British Army Officer

James Madison

James Madison

President of the United States

Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry

American Naval Commander

George Prévost

George Prévost

British Commander-in-Chief

Footnotes



  1. Hickey, Donald R. (1989). The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana; Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-01613-0, p. 44.
  2. Hickey 1989, pp. 32, 42–43.
  3. Greenspan, Jesse (29 August 2018). "How U.S. Forces Failed to Capture Canada 200 Years Ago". History.com.
  4. Benn, Carl (2002). The War of 1812. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-466-5, pp. 56–57.
  5. "History of Sandwich". City of Winsdor. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  6. Benn, Carl; Marston, Daniel (2006). Liberty or Death: Wars That Forged a Nation. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-022-6, p. 214.
  7. Auchinleck, Gilbert (1855). A History of the War Between Great Britain and the United States of America: During the Years 1812, 1813, and 1814. Maclear & Company. p. 49.
  8. Laxer, James (2012). Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812. House of Anansi Press. ISBN 978-0-88784-261-0, p. 131.
  9. Aprill, Alex (October 2015). "General William Hull". Michigan Tech.
  10. Laxer, James (2012). Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812. House of Anansi Press. ISBN 978-0-88784-261-0.
  11. Benn & Marston 2006, p. 214.
  12. Rosentreter, Roger (2003). Michigan's Early Military Forces: A Roster and History of Troops Activated Prior to the American Civil War. Great Lakes Books. ISBN 0-8143-3081-9, p. 74.
  13. Marsh, James H. (23 October 2011). "Capture of Detroit, War of 1812". Canadian Encyclopedia.
  14. Hickey, Donald R. (1989). The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana; Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-01613-0, p. 84.
  15. Arthur, Brian (2011). How Britain Won the War of 1812: The Royal Navy's Blockades of the United States. Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-665-0, p. 73.
  16. Benn 2002, p. 55.
  17. Hickey 1989, p. 214.
  18. Hannay, David (1911). "American War of 1812" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press, p. 849.
  19. Hickey 2012, p. 153.
  20. Benn 2002, pp. 55–56.
  21. Benn 2002, p. 56.
  22. Leckie, Robert (1998). The Wars of America. University of Michigan. ISBN 0-06-012571-3, p. 255.
  23. Benn 2002, pp. 56–57.
  24. Benn 2002, p. 57.
  25. Benn 2002, p. 57.
  26. Horsman, Reginald (1962). The Causes of the War of 1812. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-498-04087-9, p. 264.
  27. Toll, Ian W. (2006). Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-05847-5, pp. 278–279.
  28. Allen, Robert S. (1996). "Chapter 5: Renewing the Chain of Friendship". His Majesty's Indian allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774–1815. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-175-3, pp. 115–116.
  29. Risjord, Norman K. (1961). "1812: Conservatives, War Hawks, and the Nation's Honor". William and Mary Quarterly. 18 (2): 196–210. doi:10.2307/1918543. JSTOR 1918543, pp. 205, 207–209.
  30. "Battle of Lacolle Mill | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca.
  31. "Backgrounder | The Battles Along the Lacolle River, Québec".
  32. Eaton, J.H. (2000) [1st published in 1851]. Returns of Killed and Wounded in Battles or Engagements with Indians and British and Mexican Troops, 1790–1848, Compiled by Lt. Col J. H. Eaton. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. p. 7.
  33. Latimer, Jon (2007). 1812: War with America. Cambridge: Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02584-4, pp. 156–157.
  34. Hickey 1989, p. 153.
  35. Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31B: Fort York". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto.
  36. Charles W. Humphries, The Capture of York, in Zaslow, p. 264
  37. "The Mace – The Speaker". Speaker.ontla.on.ca.
  38. Charles W. Humphries, The Capture of York, in Zaslow, p. 265
  39. Benn 1993, p. 66.
  40. "War of 1812: The Battle of York". Toronto Public Library. 2019.
  41. Charles W. Humphries, The Capture of York, in Zaslow, pp. 267–268.
  42. Blumberg, Arnold (2012). When Washington Burned: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812. Casemate. ISBN 978-1-6120-0101-2, p. 82.
  43. Berton 2011, p. 59.
  44. Skaggs, David Curtis (2006). Oliver Hazard Perry: honor, courage, and patriotism in the early U.S. Navy. Naval Institute Press. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-59114-792-3, p. 50
  45. White, James T. (1895). Oliver Hazard Perry. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, p. 288.
  46. "The White House at War: The White House Burns: The War of 1812". White House Historical Association.
  47. Greenpan, Jesse (August 22, 2014). "The British Burn Washington, D.C., 200 Years Ago". History.com.
  48. The War of 1812, Scene 5 "An Act of Nature" (Television production). History Channel. 2005.
  49. "Colonial Period" Aiming for Pensacola: Fugitive Slaves on the Atlantic and Southern Frontiers. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  50. Hyde, Samuel C. (2004): A Fierce and Fractious Frontier: The Curious Development of Louisiana's Florida Parishes, 1699–2000. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807129232, p. 97.
  51. Hitsman, J. Mackay (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 1-896941-13-3, p. 270.

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