War Of 1812 Essay
The War of 1812 was a war between Britain and the United States fought primarily in Upper Canada. It had many causes, few which involved British North America. The results of the war include the fact that there was no clear winner or loser among them. The only real losers in the situation were the Natives in the region. They were driven out of their lands and customs. None of the borders was changed by the war, though many attempts were made. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, did nothing to advance the state of the countries. It went so far as to end the war and put things back the way that they were, but the main causes of the conflict were not addressed or dealt with. In order to evaluate the significance of this war, Canadian victories and losses, as well as overall results, must be analyzed.
Most Canadian victories came in the form of preventing American attack from being successful. This is the main Canadian reason for believing they won this war. An example of this occurred on 12 July 1812, when General Hull and his troops crossed into Canada. Their invasion was promptly met and turned away by opposing forces. This also happened in the Battle of Raisin River on 21 January 1813. American General Winchester surrendered to British Colonel Proctor, losing 500 prisoners. Perhaps the most significant of Canadian victories was the burning of Washington. When the British forces won the battle of Bladensburg, it “opened the door to Washington”. The Capitol Building and the White House were destroyed but luckily, for the Americans, torrential rains put out fires in the rest of the city. To the Canadians from 1812-1814, this was reason enough to believe that they were victorious. To Canadians now it seems a shallow way to claim triumph.
Notable role models were born out of this war for Canadians. Sir Isaac Brock was a prominent figure. He was “Commander of Forces in Upper Canada” and later added Administrator to his title. Being engulfed by politics proved too much for Brock, who left to join forces in the march upon Detroit (August 1812). He led troops to victory here, but lost his life in the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812. To this day, Brock is well renowned throughout Canada as a fearless leader and important to the history of the country. Another hero rising from the conflict was Swanee Chief Tecumseh. Along with his brother Lolawauchika, the Prophet, Tecumseh was “the (man) responsible for the growing threat on the western frontier” He was steadfast in his beliefs that Natives should never be forced to give up any of their customs or their heritage. He was valiant in protecting his people and led them courageously in battle; even though he did not have to engage in the fighting himself, he joined his troops. He was killed in the Battle of Moravian town on 5 October 1813. After his death, survivors retreated and later signed a...
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An American Perspective on the War of 1812
by Donald Hickey
The War of 1812 is probably our most obscure conflict. Although a great deal has been written about the war, the average American is only vaguely aware of why we fought or who the enemy was. Even those who know something about the contest are likely to remember only a few dramatic moments, such as the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the burning of the nation’s capital, or the Battle of New Orleans.
A British Perspective
by Andrew Lambert
The War of 1812 has been referred to as a victorious “Second War for Independence,” and used to define Canadian identity, but the British only remember 1812 as the year Napoleon marched to Moscow. This is not surprising. In British eyes, the conflict with America was an annoying sideshow. The Americans had stabbed them in the back while they, the British, were busy fighting a total war against the French Empire, directed by their most inveterate enemy. For a nation fighting Napoleon Bonaparte, James Madison was an annoying irrelevance. Consequently the American war would be fought with whatever money, manpower and naval force that could be spared, no more than seven percent of the total British military effort.
A Canadian Perspective on the War of 1812
by Victor Suthren
When the American declaration of war fell upon the disparate colonies of British North America, it produced reactions as different as the character of each colony. But the people of the Canadian colonies were united in the belief that this was an unwanted war, governed more by the distant preoccupations of London or Washington than the needs and wishes of the King’s subjects in North America.
A Native Nations Perspective on the War of 1812
by Donald Fixico
The War of 1812 was an important conflict with broad and lasting consequences, particularly for the native inhabitants of North America. During the pivotal years before the war, the United States wanted to expand its territories, a desire that fueled the invasion of native homelands throughout the interior of the continent. [Miller, p.47] Tribal nations of the lower Great Lakes, including the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ojibwa, and others saw their lands at risk. The same was true for the Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw in the south.
Black Sailors and Soldiers in the War of 1812
In 1813 Charles Ball, an escaped slave and self-declared “free man of color,” had a choice. He could row out to the British fleet, moored in the Chesapeake Bay, and offer his services to the King -- or he could volunteer for the fledgling American navy and defend his country. Ball, whose dramatic bid for freedom is chronicled in The Life of Charles Ball, A Black Man, chose the latter and he was not alone.
Military Medicine in the War of 1812
There is hardly on the face of the earth a less enviable situation than that of an Army Surgeon after a battle – worn out and fatigued in body and mind, surrounded by suffering, pain, and misery, much of which he knows it is not in his power to heal…. I never underwent such fatigue as I did the first week at Butler's Barracks. The weather was intensely hot, the flies in myriads, and lighting on the wounds, deposited their eggs, so that maggots were bred in a few hours.
Tiger Dunlop, British surgeon to the 89th (The Pricess Victoria’s) Regiment of Foot, War of 1812.
Naval Battleships in the War of 1812
When the United States declared war on Great Britain in June 1812, the U.S. Navy was an eighteen-year-old institution with barely a dozen ships to its name. The British Royal Navy, by contrast, had been operating for centuries, and could boast over five hundred active warships. Eighty-five of these ships were sailing American waters at the time war broke out.
Prisoners of War in 1812
Military captives in the War of 1812 posed a particular problem for both sides. Neither the British nor the Americans could maintain large prisons – they lacked the military facilities and the manpower to hold soldiers for long periods of time. And, in a war that stretched along half of North America, prisoners posed a logistical nightmare – prisoners taken in battle were often hundreds of miles away from the nearest military garrison.
The British often paroled captured militiamen and army officers, releasing them after they’d made a pledge to stay out of the war for the duration.
Personal Journals from the War of 1812
For some of the participants in the War of 1812 the conflict was the defining moment of their lives, and they were well aware of it. A number of young soldiers penned brief diaries and journals that show how the war began for them as an adventure, but ended in many cases with injury, imprisonment and grief. For women, too, the war was a trial, a test of their fortitude and resourcefulness, but it was also a window onto a wider world. Their journals in turn have become our window onto a war that took place two centuries ago.
The Treaty of Ghent
James Madison had an opportunity to end the War of 1812 almost as soon as it began. The British had repealed the Orders in Council – rules that curbed American trade with Europe – and thus one of Madison’s major reasons for war was now moot. If the British had foregone the right to impress American sailors, Madison could well have gone back to Congress with the suggestion that hostilities cease immediately. However, the British considered impressment their right by custom, and believed it essential to their naval might. And so James Madison took his country to war.
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