Download War of 1812

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Siege of Fort Erie wikipedia , lookup

Battle of Frenchtown wikipedia , lookup

Battle of Lundy's Lane wikipedia , lookup

Battle of Plattsburgh wikipedia , lookup

Battle of Bladensburg wikipedia , lookup

Embargo Act of 1807 wikipedia , lookup

Battle of Stoney Creek wikipedia , lookup

Second Battle of Sacket's Harbor wikipedia , lookup

Battle of York wikipedia , lookup

Battle of New Orleans wikipedia , lookup

Burning of Washington wikipedia , lookup

Battle of North Point wikipedia , lookup

The War of 1812
By the early 19th Century,
Napoleon had conquered the
majority of Europe.
England, protected by the English
Channel and Royal Navy, stood
largely alone against a continental
The English, utilizing their great
advantage, used their navy to
interrupt Atlantic trade with the
The United States maintained strict
neutrality in the war.
American merchants were free to
trade with any of the combatants.
This quickly brought American
merchant ships into contact with
British warships.
Since the conditions in the Royal
Navy were abysmal and was
characterized as “a floating hell,”
many English sailors took this
opportunity to defect to the
American ships.
The British, at war with France, could not afford this loss
of manpower. Therefore, the Royal Navy began to
search American ships for runaway British sailors.
As most Americans were, at this point, indistinguishable
from the British and the Royal Navy did not trust the
often forged American documents, many American
sailors were impressed into the Royal Navy.
The most famous incident was the Chesapeake Affair of
1807 when a British warship demanded the right to
search for deserters on the American ship Chesapeake.
When the American captain refused, the British ship fired
on the Americans forcing them to submit. Eventually, the
British carried off four crew members from the
Chesapeake, two of whom were American born.
By 1806, after the French fleet was destroyed at
Trafalger in England, the British established a full
blockade on the French, eventaully ensnaring more than
1000 American ships.
Between 1803 and 1812, an estimated 10,000 American
sailors were impressed into the English navy.
Jefferson and "Peaceful Coercion"
Following the humiliation of the Chesapeake Incident, Congress and the
Jefferson administration realized the futility of proclaiming neutrality in the
war while maintaining trade relationships with the combatants.
Trade would, by necessity, enmesh the United States in the war.
Congress responded with the Embargo Act of 1807 which essentially
prohibited foreign trade conducted over waterways. The bill was later
expanded to include Canada.
The Embargo Act was a disaster. Congress badly overestimated American
economic importance.
The shutting off of American trade failed to modify European behavior but,
instead, penalized Americans.
American exports abruptly fell from $108 million to $22 million. The great
American merchant fleet sat rotting in harbors while their owners and crews
fell into insolvency.
The Embargo Act was replaced in 1809, despite the wishes of the Jefferson
administration, with the Non-Intercourse Act which permitted trade with all
nations except Britain and France.
The following year, the restrictions were further loosened and trade with
Britain and France was again permitted.
Election of 1808
The Election of 1808 pitted the Secretary of State James Madison, a Virginian and
Jefferson's handpicked successor, against the Federalist Charles Pinckney.
The Federalists, once the dominant national party of Washington and Adams, had
largely fallen into irrelevance as a regional party, only generating any significant
interest in the coastal Northeast.
In an attempt to appeal to this constituency, Pinckney attacked the Embargo Act
which had impacted the merchant community so heavily. The election went according
to form, with Madison winning easily.
The War Hawks
The failure of both the
Embargo Act and the NonIntercourse Act left the United
States in much the same
situation as before.
The realities of trade still
carried American ships into
harm’s way and the Royal
Navy continued to impress
American sailors into service.
The War Hawks, a faction in
Congress led by John C.
Calhoun and Speaker of the
House Henry Clay, began to
press the Madison
administration for war with
Great Britain.
While the War Hawks embraced
the rhetoric of freedom of trade,
their outlook and constituencies
were agrarian and Southern.
While they may have been
outraged at British treatment of
American sailors, their real
objective was nationalistic and
The War Hawks hoped that,
through war, the English,
distracted by a far more serious
war with Napoleon, could be
expelled from North America
and the United States could
invade Canada.
The United States Declares War on
On 18 June 1812, President Madison acquiesced to the
wishes of the War Hawks and asked Congress for a
declaration of war against England.
Congress complied, though reluctantly. In the House of
Representatives, the war measure passed 79-49, and in
the Senate 19-13.
Northern representatives feared the impact war would
have on their shipping interests.
The Niles Weekly Register was a national weekly from
Baltimore that rivaled the great newspapers of the time.
In this article, the paper presents a very optimistic view
of the coming war with England.
The United States Invades Canada
Following the declaration of
war against England, between
1812 and 1815 the United
States made three attempts to
invade Canada.
The larger American army,
comprised largely of militia
hastily assembled at the
outbreak of hostilities, faced a
British Canadian army which,
along with Native American
allies, was far more
professional and better
prepared for combat.
Although Thomas
Jefferson once boasted
that invading Canada
would be “a mere matter
of marching,” the
campaigns each ended
badly for the Americans.
The Americans lost an
army at Detroit and
another at Queenston
Eventually the losses
proved too much and the
Americans withdrew from
During the invasions, the
American army burned
the cities of York, modern
Toronto, and Newark.
The British would later
retaliate by burning
Buffalo and Washington
Oliver Perry became an
American hero during the
invasion, routing the
British in Lake Erie and
becoming the first man to
capture a British fleet.
The USS Constitution
At the outbreak of war in 1812,
the English used their fleet,
much as had been done to the
French, to blockade American
It was a classic mismatch.
The English maintained the
strongest navy in the world
while the majority of the
American navy, in a cost cutting
measure, was sold off in 1802.
The Americans were forced to
rely on privateers and
improvised merchant vessels
that stood no chance against
the Royal Navy.
The USS Constitution, one of the
few legitimate warships in the
American navy, was recalled from
patrolling the Mediterranean
against the Barbary Pirates to
help break the English siege.
On 19 August 1812, in one of the
most famous naval battles in
American history, the Constitution
defeated the HMS Guerriere off
the coast of Nova Scotia.
The Constitution, larger, more
heavily armed, and constructed of
oak timbers that earned her the
nickname “Old Ironsides,” was
the superior ship.
Through the course of the war,
the Constitution would defeat
seven other British ships and help
dispel the myth of British naval
invincibility while laying the
cornerstone for the American
British Offensive In North America
By 1814, Napoleon was all but
defeated in Europe.
This allowed England much
more latitude deploying troops
to the American theatre.
It is estimated that over ten
thousand British regulars
poured into Canada for an
offensive against the United
On Lake Erie, the British
began what would have been
the largest warship ever
deployed on the Great Lakes.
This deployment would prove
unstoppable for the Americans.
The British planned a three
pronged attack though Lake
Champlain and the
Chesapeake Bay to defeat the
American army and force a
favorable peace.
The British Burn Washington
The British first pressed their
new advantage in North
America with an attack on
Washington D.C.
On 24 August 1814, the British
defeated the Americans at
Bladensburg and were, from
there, able to march
unmolested into the city.
Most residents of the city,
including President and Mrs.
Madison, fled the British
The White House was
abandoned with such haste
that the arriving British soldiers
found dinner prepared the
dinning room set for forty
With only four thousand troops, the British had
no interest in occupying or holding the city.
Instead, in retaliation for the Americans burning
York, modern Toronto, the British burned all of
the public buildings in the city.
Of all government building in Washington, only
the Patent Office was spared destruction.
Below a first person account of the burning.
“When the detachment sent out to destroy Mr. Madison's house entered his
dining parlor, they found a dinner table spread and covers laid for forty
guests. Several kinds of wine, in handsome cut glass decanters, were
cooling on the sideboard; plate holders stood by the fireplace, filled with
dishes and plates; knives, forks, and spoons were arranged for immediate
use; in short, everything was ready for the entertainment of a ceremonious
party. Such were the arrangements in the dining room, whilst in the kitchen
were others answerable to them in every respect. Spits, loaded with joints of
various sorts, turned before the fire; pots, saucepans, and other culinary
utensils stood upon the grate; and all the other requisites for an elegant and
substantial repast were exactly in a state which indicated that they had been
lately and precipitately abandoned.”
Battle of Plattsburgh
The brunt of the British assault
was to come through Lake Erie in
Vermont and upstate New York.
By the summer of 1814, the British
amassed over ten-thousand
troops in Montreal, many of them
battle hardened veterans of
Wellington’s victory over Napoleon
at Waterloo, and had constructed
the Confiance, then the largest
warship on the Great Lakes.
Under the command of General
George Prevost, the British
planned a combined land and
naval assault on the badly
outnumbered Americans in New
England and upstate New York.
It was hoped that this would the
Americans to a peace favorable to
the British.
The Americans, seeing the massive British
advantage, retreated to improvised
defenses around Plattsburgh, New York.
Most importantly, the confined waters of
Plattsburgh Bay did not allow the large
British warships room to maneuver.
Pressing this advantage, on 11 September
1814, the American captain, Tomas
Macdonough, defeated the British fleet.
After losing the fleet, the cautious Prevost
withdrew the British forces to Canada.
Battle of Baltimore and Fort
The next prong in the
British assault was an
attack on the major port
city of Baltimore.
With troops already on
the ground, the British
planned to bring their
fleet into the harbor to
support the invasion and
shell the city.
This plan was contingent
however on the defeat of
Fort McHenry, which
guarded the entrance to
the harbor.
The American commander at Fort
McHenry, knowing that the British
assault was immanent, purchased an
extra large American flag for the battle
so that the British would be sure to see
On 13 September 1814, the British
ships, out of range for the American
cannon, began bombardment of the
One shell, which failed to detonate,
landed in the gunpowder magazine,
which, if ignited, would have destroyed
the entire fort.
Through the course of the attack,
which would last twenty five hours, four
Americans were killed and twenty five
wounded, but the fort held. Unable to
enter the harbor, the British
abandoned the attack. Deprived of
naval support and with their
commander killed by an American
sharpshooter, the British ground forces
were defeated and turned back from
Unable to enter the harbor, the British
abandoned the attack.
Deprived of naval support and with their
commander killed by an American sharpshooter,
the British ground forces were defeated and
turned back from Baltimore.
On the morning of 14 September, the sight of
the American flag still flying above the fort
moved Francis Scott Key, a Georgetown lawyer
held captive on one of the British ships, to write
the poem “The Star Spangled Banner," the first
stanza of which, in 1931, would become the
national anthem.
The Hartford Convention
The War of 1812 hit the New England states particularly
Dating to the Embargo Act of 1807, seven years of
embargos, blockades, and naval battles had crippled the
economy which was built primarily on shipping, fishing,
and other maritime pursuits.
Federalist politicians appealed to New England’s
reluctance to enter the war in the elections of 1808 and
1812, but carried only the New England states.
What is more, recent fighting and British incursions were
waged in New England, a tough reality for people who
did not want the war.
From 15 December 1814 to 5 January 1815, delegates
from New England states met in Hartford, Connecticut to
lay out their objections to the Madison administration and
its conduct of the war.
The most radical elements called for secession from the
union and the reaching of a separate peace with Great
Ultimately, moderates prevailed and the convention
produced a document advocating a return to the state
centered federalism similar to the Articles of
The end of the war quickly made the Hartford
Convention politically noxious.
Due, in part, to their close identification with the
convention, the Federalist collapsed as a major political
party and were never again able to field a national
The Treaty of Ghent
The War of 1812 had quickly devolved into a stalemate.
The United States failed to realize its territorial ambitions
in Canada and Britain, other than burning Washington,
failed to land a decisive victory that could end the war on
favorable terms.
With the defeat of Napoleon, the issue of impressment,
which ostensibly triggered the war, receded into
With victory unlikely for either side, peace negotiations
began in the Netherlands.
In the resulting treaty, signed on 24 December 1814,
both sides essentially agreed to recognize the status quo
as it existed before the war so much as was possible.
The Treaty of Ghent was
quickly ratified by the Senate
and was signed by President
Madison on 18 February 1815.
The treaty was hailed as a
major success in the United
Though any benefits of the war
were negligible at best, the
young United States had stood
up to what amounted to
bullying by a major European
power and had held its own.
Through this, the United States
gained a great deal of prestige
and was becoming recognized
as a significant military power.
The Battle of New Orleans
Owing to the difficulties of
communication in the early
19th Century, the Battle of New
Orleans, the largest battle in
the War of 1812, did not occur
until after the peace was
reached at Ghent.
On 13 December 1814, a large
force crossed the Caribbean
from the British base at
Jamaica to attack New Orleans
and deprive the Americans the
port and the mouth of the
Mississippi River.
After defeating a number of
small American gunboats at the
Battle of Lake Borgne, the way
was open for an invasion.
Many considered the outcome
of the coming battle to be a
foregone conclusion
The British invaders outnumbered the
Americans by better than two to one.
Residents of New Orleans took steps to protect
their property as they feared American
commander Andrew Jackson, who would later
become president, would conduct a scorched
earth defense, destroying the city rather than
surrender it to the British.
Jackson chose to mount his defense from an
elevated position protected by a stone wall that
would require the British to march across a large
field while exposed to American fire.
The British simply hoped that, through their
vastly superior numbers, enough attackers
would survive the march to take the American
The British launched their major attack on 8 January 1815.
Through the early stages of the battle, things went
according to form. The British suffered terribly crossing the
field, but there were simply too many soldiers to shoot.
Upon reaching the base of the American position however,
the British discovered that they had forgotten the siege
ladders needed to scale the American position at their
At this point, the battle became a massacre as the British
were trapped between the oncoming push of their own
ranks and the stone wall held by the Americans.
Americans were able to fire into the exposed and stationary
British from very close range. Of the 10,000 British soldiers
that began the assault, more than 2,700 were killed,
wounded, or captured. The Americans lost 71 men.