The War of 1812 resulted from pride and suffered insult as much as a duel between two nations who still chafed over a conflict 30 years in the past. The Americans were beset by internal struggle over an economy and social issues that threatened to destroy its fragile framework, and an enemy – Great Britain – that continued to bully the young republic.
The United States was unprepared for war, but aggressive “War Hawks” in Congress demanded battlefield satisfaction from their persistent nemesis. Indian raids into U. S. territories were encouraged by the British in Canada. American trade was constricted on the high seas and her sailors were impressed into the Royal Navy as it battled Napoleon. Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison’s punishment of the tribal confederation headed by Tecumseh occurred in 1811, but falsely fueled the confidence of Congress to proceed with the war. The battle’s outcome also drove the Indian tribes further into the British camp.
The land battles of the three-year war demonstrated the predictably inept showing of the under-funded and poorly led American army. Only late in the war did United States regulars backed by mobs of frontier-toughened militia tip the balance in key conflicts. The war can be seen as a series of punishing raids rather than strategic grabs for territory (the thwarted U. S. grab for Canadian colonies notwithstanding). If there is to be a tribute, it must go to both countries that showed the courage needed to back away from the hopeless conflict.
LIST OF BATTLE SITES AND CASUALTIES
TIPPICANOE Nov. 7, 1811 Tecumseh Confederacy 120, Milita 188
FORT DETROIT Aug 8, 1812 British/Indian ?, American 2,200
FORT DEARBORN August 15, 1812 Indian ? American 80 of 93
QUEENSTON HEIGHTS Oct. 13, 1812 British 119 American 900
YORK April 22, 1813 British 440 American 320
LAKE ERIE Sept 10, 1813 British 135 American 123
THAMES RIVER Oct. 5, 1813 British 188, American 45
HORSESHOE BEND March 27, 1814 Creek/Red Stick Indians 800, American Militia 203
UNDY’S LANE July 25, 1814 British 1,000+ American 1,300
WASHINGTON DC Aug 24, 1814 British 249 American 50
LAKE CHAMPLAIN (PLATTSBURGH) Sept 6-11, 1814 British 300 American 200
BALTIMORE (FT. MCHENRY) Sept 12-14, 1814 British 346 American 310
PENSACOLA, FLA Nov. 7-9, 1814 British/Spanish (negligible) American 15
NEW ORLEANS Jan. 8, 1815 British 2,036 American 71