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.
Table of Contents / Timeline
PrologueNew 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:
- 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).
- The impressment (forced recruitment) of seamen on US vessels into the Royal Navy (the British claimed that they were British deserters).
- The British military support for American Indians who were offering armed resistance to the expansion of the American frontier to the Northwest Territory.
- 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.
Declaration of warWashington
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
Hull's Invasion of CanadaWindsor, Ontario
Hull began an invasion of Canada on July 12, 1812, crossing the Detroit River east of Sandwich (the area around Windsor, Ontario). It soon became apparent that he would encounter great resistance, however, and he withdrew to the American side of the river on August 7 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; half of the troops were killed.
Siege of Fort MackinacFort 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.
First Battle of Sacket's HarborSackets Harbor, New York
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 DetroitDetroit, Michigan Territory
The siege of Detroit, also known as the surrender of Detroit or the Battle of Fort Detroit, was an early engagement in the British-U.S. War of 1812. A British force under Major General Isaac Brock with Native American allies under Shawnee leader Tecumseh used bluff and deception to intimidate U.S. Brigadier General William Hull into surrendering the fort and town of Detroit, Michigan, along with his dispirited army which actually outnumbered the victorious British and Indians.
USS Constitution vs HMS GuerriereAtlantic Ocean
USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere was a battle between the two ships during the War of 1812, approximately 400 miles (640 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Battle of Queenston HeightsQueenston
Battle of FrenchtownFrenchtown, Michigan Territory
The Battles of Frenchtown, also known as the Battle of the River Raisin and the River Raisin Massacre, were a series of conflicts in Michigan Territory that took place from January 18–23, 1813, during the War of 1812. It was fought between the United States and a British and Native American alliance near the River Raisin in Frenchtown, (present-day Monroe, Michigan).
Battle of YorkYork, Upper Canada (now Toront
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.
Battle of ThamesMoravian of the Thames, Ontar
Battle of Lake ErieLake 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.
Battle of Horseshoe BendDadeville, Alabama, USA
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend (also known as Tohopeka, Cholocco Litabixbee, or The Horseshoe), was fought during the War of 1812 in the Mississippi Territory, now central Alabama. 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.
Battle of ChippawaChippawa, Upper Canada (presen
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 LaneUpper Canada Drive, Niagara Fa
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.
British burn Washington, D.C.Washington, D.C.
Sailing up Patuxent River, British burn Capitol and White House. Dolley Madison saves Washington's portrait.
Battle of BladensburgBladensburg, Maryland, USA
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.
Battle of PlattsburghPlattsburgh, New York
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
Battle of BaltimoreBaltimore, 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 PensacolaPensacola, FL, USA
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.
Battle of New OrleansNear 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
EpilogueNew 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".
- 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.
- 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
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