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The Bicentennial of the War of 1812

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  • 4PhilipMTJ
    replied
    I think we chose poorly on burning York.

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  • Genosaurer
    replied
    Hark, a vagrant: 340

    First thing I thought of when I saw the thread title.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Chogy,

    Actually there was still a strong abolitionist feeling in the UK, and while they were tiring of war, if a war with the US would have ended slavery here the population (the ones with money) they would have been for it.

    Remember King Cotton didn't emerge for a couple decades until after this time.

    The US was a market for British manufactured goods and not yet a source of raw materiels for its mills....India fulfilled that role until around 1840.

    There was also the realization that in the day of sail the vast untapped timber resources of the US along with its naval stores was worth having a lower price.

    The American successes of 1814 showed the British that while they could keep us out of Canada and they could have limited success within touch of the shoreline....but they could not be succesful in a large scale land war. Remember that while they were able to get at Washington they were never able to get at Baltimore or any other major city. They were unable to drive down the inland waterways with any great success either.

    It was a practical matter of business that caused the war to end not an overall sense of war exhaustion.

    And we ended up with an status quo ante bellum.

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  • Chogy
    replied
    we should be so fortunate that the british were pretty much exhausted after napoleon, because one battle in new orleans and the privateer battles aside, the rest of our performance would have made it very tempting for the british to undo the Revolutionary War!
    I've often thought the same, but I believe the public support in England would have been grossly lacking. Even during the revolution itself, it was not a popular war in England, and after more than a decade of Boney, I suspect again, the English population would have rebelled against a huge and expensive war in the USA.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    ...the funny thing is that in the Pentagon, in the Marine Corps corridor, there's a big quote painted on the wall, attributed to some british officer: "the marines were the only ones that put up a fight."

    we should be so fortunate that the british were pretty much exhausted after napoleon, because one battle in new orleans and the privateer battles aside, the rest of our performance would have made it very tempting for the british to undo the Revolutionary War!
    The Marines did fight damn hard....what few there were. Now I did not encounter them much in this book because the Chesapeake was their theater of operations. I remember being at an RN museum in Portsmouth and the exhibit stated the biggesst threat the RN ever faced was the Kriegsmarine.....the toughest enemy the RN ever fought was the USN in War of 1812.

    But by 1814 the US Army did get its act together. The Niagara Frontier of 1814 was different than the other years. Some pretty good leaders did come out of that cesspit....Scott, Brown and a few others.

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  • astralis
    replied
    the native-american/early american war was, for all intents and purposes, a brutal racial war to the hilt.

    AR,

    The Continental Army of 1779-1783 would look with sneers of derision at the rabble that attempted to take Canada
    damn, that bad...the funny thing is that in the Pentagon, in the Marine Corps corridor, there's a big quote painted on the wall, attributed to some british officer: "the marines were the only ones that put up a fight."

    we should be so fortunate that the british were pretty much exhausted after napoleon, because one battle in new orleans and the privateer battles aside, the rest of our performance would have made it very tempting for the british to undo the Revolutionary War!

    Leave a comment:


  • Chogy
    replied
    It takes a dedicated historian like the author of that book to dig through the jingoism and back-slapping that dominated normal historical texts about the early USA, to find the reality of the situation.

    Early Americans were a ruthless and greedy bunch, especially w/regards to the Natives. To be fair, the political correct movement of the last 50 years has totally whitewashed native American aggression vis peaceful farmers and settlers on the frontier. There were many brutal and horrific attacks by natives, to include mass rapes, torture, and other distasteful acts. The U.S. Army vs. Native Americans was seen by many (if not most) as a just war. The Natives might have been called domestic terrorists today.

    Also, the "peaceful native living in harmony with each other, and Mother Earth" is another B.S. image. Native tribes brutally warred with each other, and also used Ma Nature by whatever means necessary to advance themselves.

    It is interesting to postulate what might be today if the U.S. efforts in Canada had been successful from the outset, and the war itself ending in a clear U.S. victory.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    I have just completed Alan Taylor's excellent The Civil War of 1812 and have come to realize that while I have considered myself a pretty good student of US military history I don't know shit about this war!!! The book mostly dealt with the politics of the war and actions against Canada.

    First impressions.

    a. The North American Anglo Saxons of the early 19th Century were truly a contemptible bunch!!! Understanding we were still talking about absolute wilderness but it was a me-first society on both sides of the border.

    b. In Upper Canada (Ontario) the landed gentry had total control and were absolutely loyal to the crown. They were at the top of the heap as they were through much of the Empire. They held seats in the very limited assembly and all of the judgeships and magistrate positions. Next were the Loyalist populations. Those were those who Americans who had moved to Canada after the Revolution, some in fear of their life, and stayed loyal to the crown. They were considered to be rusted and were rewarded with militia commissions, clerkships, and sheriff offices. They were allowed to operate newspapers so long as they were totally loyal. Their loyalty was rewarded with extensive grants of land and the permission to operate land speculation businesses. Next down the tier were the Late Loyalists. This group emigrated to Canada from the US in the 1790s. Some moved because they did not like the way American democracy was going….many saw it as a mobocracy. Most moved for the free or cheap land (200 acre plots went for 6 cents per acre) and to escape the crushing inflation and depression facing the US in that decade….thanks in a large part to Great Britain’s financial policies intended to cripple the US economy post-Revolution and to try to keep it a financial vassal of England if not in fact a political one.

    The Quebecois were few and far between in Upper Canada….they were mostly concentrated in Lower Canada. The First Nations were spread to the west

    c. In the US the population and governments were much divided along the hard lines of the Federalists and Republicans. (Sound familiar?) EVERYTHING in daily life was viewed through that political prism. Politics in early Republican American was a full contact sport. The Federalists were concentrated in New England, New York East of Lake Ontario down through the southern tier, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and most of Maryland. The Republicans were through the Southern states, and the new states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio as well as western New York….in other words those states along the frontier. These were hard divisions. The Federalists seemed to believe that closer ties with Britain, to include friendly relations with Canada, was in America’s best interest. This was anathema to the Republicans who wanted a weak central government, greater ties to Republican France and an expansion into Upper Canada. There was also a strong sentiment to destroy the First Nations which were seen as a threat to expansion. Central to the Republican weak central government was an unwillingness to provide any tax revenue to even pay for the war. The result was the Federal Government with the Republicans in power had to borrow money from Federalists bankers.

    d. The way to become an American general was to be a toady to the Republicans. This resulted in a lot of dead American soldiers and disgruntled subordinates. The Continental Army of 1779-1783 would look with sneers of derision at the rabble that attempted to take Canada. Only with the emergence of a corps of young combat officers did the US Army become adequate. Both armies were brutal to the civilians in any area where they operated. If you were a civilian you had no rights on either side of the border. Soldiers simply took what they wanted and all you got was worthless script. Local economies collapsed all along the Great Lakes because the area was picked clean of supplies by marauding armies.

    e. The American strategy, what there was of it, sucked. To appease/give political patronage to westerners the Madison Administration decided the best way to attack Canada was to attack along either side of Lake Erie….Detroit and Niagara areas. That is like trying to kill an elephant by attacking its tail! If the Americans had taken Montreal they would have cut off all British forces in the Great Lakes and broken the Native Confederation which was Britain’s allies. The problem with that was you had to attack from the Vermont/New York St Lawrence border area. Why was that a problem? Because the Americans in that part of the country were openly trading with the Canadians across the ST Lawrence River! The American leaders in the area were all Federalists who wanted to see Madison fail. Oh, remember that I mentioned the Madison Administration paid for the war through borrowing? Well most of the loans came from wealthy Federalists from that area who were building their fortunes trading with the Crown’s forces!!! They did not want any American army traipsing through the area and disrupting their sweetheart deal!

    Ugh….I felt like I needed a shower when I was done with that book!

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    it was only after napoleon receded as a threat that the british really tried dealing with the americans.
    Actually yesterday (June 24th) was the bicentennial of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. The left-wing newspaper i read celebrated it by recounting the extent of his failure in detail on a two-page special article in their weekend issue.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    What the Colonel said. The Canadian politicians took defense matters much more seriously than their American counterparts.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    No, we were blessed with exceptional officers

    Charles de Salaberry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  • bigross86
    replied
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I do not see it that way at all. The Napoleonic Wars had, at best, a tertiary effect on the reasons for the war. The US did not go into that war with a mind to help France. You may recall we had an undeclared naval war with France in 1798 so we were not looking to help France, particularly when it had ceased being a democracy.

    The war was caused by homegrown pressures of a desire of expansion over the Appalachians into the Mississippi watershed and off of the eastern seaboard. It was also believed, erroneously, that Canada and its English-speaking populations were eager to throw off British rule and join the US. While the impressment of US merchant sailors was given as the casus belli, it was really a fig leaf. The US was trading with Great Britain and very little with France. There was little to gain by fighting the British on that front.

    Now British experience on The Peninsula translated little to the War of 1812. Geography was massively different on scale and type. And the British Army had almost 150 years of experience to draw on for fighting in North America. The forces they brought to the US which did have Peninsula experience went 1-2-1 in combat with US forces (won Bladensburg and Washington, lost at Baltimore and FT Henry and I will give the British Army a draw for Plattsburgh). The US Army overcame a badly flawed national doctrine of reliance on militia forces with no standing regular force which resulted in many early disasters. Regulars, backed by long service volunteers like the Kentucky Mounted Rifles at the Battle of the Thames, had worked hard to become a hard center for militia forces to rally on for land battles.

    So the results were a status quo ante bellum with no real influence from events from the European mainland.
    I was actually looking at this from the entire opposite direction, from the British side, not the US side. I know the US couldn't care less about France at that point, I was wondering more if the British army was helped or hampered by the effects of the war in Europe

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Originally posted by Chogy View Post
    I find the naval war to be vastly more interesting than the land campaigns... probably because the fledgling USA performed so poorly on land.

    While Americans like to boast a bit about the U.S. frigate successes, the reality was that the Royal Navy probably could have stomped the crap out of the tiny handful of heavy frigates that the USA launched, IF the RN properly applied their forces in any sort of concentration.

    Those early U.S. naval victories shocked GB. Historically, the Royal Navy simply didn't lose... until Guerriere and Java fell victim to the Constitution. But in the end, it was inevitable. GB had hundreds of heavy ships commanded by vastly experienced officers and men, and the tiny U.S. Navy had a handful of frigates and sloops.
    Chogy,

    USN strength in the War of 1812....16 vessels!

    We depended a LOT on privateers. At least we did away with the idiotic idea of states navies like the Revolutionary War.....but not for Jefferson and Madison not trying!

    Leave a comment:


  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Originally posted by bigross86 View Post
    What's your view on the opinion that the War of 1812 was just an extension of the Napoleonic Wars? Did the fact that Britain was at war already mean that the British Army was stronger, since it had learned lessons that it could implement on the battlefield in the US, or did it mean that the British Army was weaker because they were fighting a battle in two entirely separate theaters, two entirely separate logistics chains, chains of command, etc....?
    I do not see it that way at all. The Napoleonic Wars had, at best, a tertiary effect on the reasons for the war. The US did not go into that war with a mind to help France. You may recall we had an undeclared naval war with France in 1798 so we were not looking to help France, particularly when it had ceased being a democracy.

    The war was caused by homegrown pressures of a desire of expansion over the Appalachians into the Mississippi watershed and off of the eastern seaboard. It was also believed, erroneously, that Canada and its English-speaking populations were eager to throw off British rule and join the US. While the impressment of US merchant sailors was given as the casus belli, it was really a fig leaf. The US was trading with Great Britain and very little with France. There was little to gain by fighting the British on that front.

    Now British experience on The Peninsula translated little to the War of 1812. Geography was massively different on scale and type. And the British Army had almost 150 years of experience to draw on for fighting in North America. The forces they brought to the US which did have Peninsula experience went 1-2-1 in combat with US forces (won Bladensburg and Washington, lost at Baltimore/FT Henry and New Orleans and I will give the British Army a draw for Plattsburgh). The US Army overcame a badly flawed national doctrine of reliance on militia forces with no standing regular force which resulted in many early disasters. Regulars, backed by long service volunteers like the Kentucky Mounted Rifles at the Battle of the Thames, had worked hard to become a hard center for militia forces to rally on for land battles.

    So the results were a status quo ante bellum with no real influence from events from the European mainland.
    Last edited by Albany Rifles; 26 Jun 12,, 13:34.

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  • Chogy
    replied
    I find the naval war to be vastly more interesting than the land campaigns... probably because the fledgling USA performed so poorly on land.

    While Americans like to boast a bit about the U.S. frigate successes, the reality was that the Royal Navy probably could have stomped the crap out of the tiny handful of heavy frigates that the USA launched, IF the RN properly applied their forces in any sort of concentration.

    Those early U.S. naval victories shocked GB. Historically, the Royal Navy simply didn't lose... until Guerriere and Java fell victim to the Constitution. But in the end, it was inevitable. GB had hundreds of heavy ships commanded by vastly experienced officers and men, and the tiny U.S. Navy had a handful of frigates and sloops.

    Leave a comment:

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