War of 1812

1812 to 1814
United States — versus — Britain, Canada, and American Indians

Canadian Border Campaigns — 1811-14     Naval Battles — 1898     
Chesapeake Campaign — 1899-1902      Creek Indian War — 1899-1902     

Battle of Fort Dearborn
THE MASSACRE AT FORT DEARBORN
The War of 1812 broke out after a long series of complaints between the young United States and Great Britain. Many of the promoters of the war on the American side, were idealists who believed on principle that the United States should not suffer the indignities that the British imposed on them, by forbidding trade to the continent (during the Napoleonic Wars) and insisting on the right to board American vessels and press into service any men they suspected of being British. Another point of contention was continued Indian depredations in both the Northwest Territories and the south. The war was opposed by New England merchants however, who thought it would make trading conditions worse rather than better.

The war itself went badly at first for the Americans, and revealed many weaknesses in the U.S. armed forces. Fortunately for the United States, Britain was so occupied with the Napoleonic War in Europe that it could spare very few forces to aid the Canadians. Unfortunately for the United States, Tecumseh, the most important Indian leader in the Northwest Territories joined forces with the British against the United States and did great service to them. Likewise, an ongoing War with the Creek Nation in the south occurred at the during the War of 1812 and some of its leaders made an alliance with Britain.

The war was fought on several fronts, the most important being the Canadian border. There were also several inconclusive Naval battles on the Atlantic, and the 'Chesapeake Campaign' wherein the British marched on Washington and Baltimore and burned the White House. Finally, a creek war in the southwest evolved into British invasion of the Mississippi which culminated in the battle of New Orleans. The net result of all the fighting was for naught. The terms of the peace treaty were simply to return to ante bellum conditions. The causes which inspired the war did not exist after Britain defeated Napoleon and commerce returned to a peaceful footing.

Canadian Border Campaigns : 1811-1814

Niagara Campaign
THE BUGLES AT CHATEAUGUAY
Most of the fighting in the War of 1812 occurred in the Great Lakes region on either side of the Canadian American border. Most of the British population of Canada resided in that area, the American government at first believed that the French of Quebec Province would support their cause, but they stayed loyal to the British.

The War on the Canadian Border was fought on three fronts, one was the Detroit campaign, under Colonel Proctor and Tecumseh, fought mostly by Northwest Indians who opposed the American settlement of the Ohio valley. Another was the Niagara front led by General Brock, who pushed the war into American territory. There were also several battles fought around the Lake Champlain region. Most of the early battles on the Canadian Front were won by the British, but the naval victory of Oliver Hazard Perry which resulted in American control of Lake Erie, was more important than any number of losses by land because it deprived the British of the ability to sustain the 'Detroit' front of the war. It also helped the American cause a great deal when Britain's Indian allies withdrew from the conflict after the death of their leader Tecumseh.



DateBattle Summary
1811  
Battle of Tippecanoe (Detroit ) Americans victory
Fought November 7, 1811 between 1000 American militiamen and settlers under William Henry Harrison, and a large number of natives under Tenskwatawa, the brother of Tecumseh. Harrison intended to force the Indian to move their settlement at 'Prophetstown' out of the area, but he was attacked by the Indians, in spite of orders by Tecumseh to avoid aggressive attacks. The battle itself was inconclusive but the Americans succeeded in driving the Indians out of the region. Shortly after, Tecumseh allied with the British during the War of 1812.
  
1813  
Battle of Lake Erie (Detroit ) Americans victory
Fought September 10, 1813, between the English flotilla of six schooners, under Commodore Barclay, and a largely superior American squadron, under Commodore Perry. The whole British flotilla was destroyed, with a loss of 134 killed and wounded. The Americans lost 27 killed and 96 wounded.
  
1813  
Battle of Thames (Naval ) Americans victory
Fought October 5, 1813 between 1,300 British and Indian forces under the command of Colonel Proctor and Tecumseh, who was killed in battle, and 3,500 Americans under William Henry Harrison, shortly after the Americans took control of Lake Erie. The British were decisively defeated and the Americans assumed control of the Northwest Territories.
  


Commander
Short Biography
Tecumseh Shawnee Hero. Tried to unify tribes against the colonists. Fought for Britain during War of 1812.
William Henry Harrison War hero of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812, and briefly, President of the United States.
Colonel Proctor British General who served with Tecumseh in the War of 1812.
Oliver Hazard Perry Naval Hero, commander of American forces at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
Tenskwatawa Brother of Tecumseh that led a troop of Indians against the a U.S. Army at Tippecanoe in defiance of his brothers advice.
Guido of Arezzo Italian monk credited with inventing modern musical notation and techniques for memorizing tunes such as "do-re-mi" mnemonics.


Story Links
Book Links
Tecumseh and the War of 1812  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Tecumseh  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
Madison—The Shooting Star and the Prophet  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Harrison—The Hero of Tippecanoe  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Tecumseh  in  Four American Indians  by  Frances M. Perry
Tippecanoe and Tyler Too  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Tippecanoe  in  Boys' Book of Border Battles  by  Edwin L. Sabin
Voice from the Open Door  in  Boy's Book of Indian Warriors  by  Edwin L. Sabin
Brigadier General Tecumseh  in  Boy's Book of Indian Warriors  by  Edwin L. Sabin




DateBattle Summary
1812  
Battle of Queenston Heights (Niagra ) British victory
Fought October 13, 1812, between 4,000 British (chiefly Canadian volunteers), under General Brock, and about 5,000 Americans, under Van Reusselaer. The Americans attacked the British position on Queenston Heights, and after very severe fighting, were totally defeated. The exact losses are unknown, but the British took 1,000 prisoners, and the American column was practically annihilated.
  
1813  
Battle of Burlington Heights (Niagra ) British victory
Fought May 5, 1813, when the British under Colonel Procter were attacked by 1,300 Americans under General Clay, while engaged with another American force holding Burlington Heights. The Americans broke the British line and seized their guns, but Procter, who had only 1,000 men, with some Indian auxiliaries, rallied his troops and routed Clay, with a loss of nearly I,000 killed, wounded and captured.
  
1813  
Battle of Chrystlers Farm (Champlain ) British victory
Fought November 11, 1813, between 800 British under Colonel Morrison, and about 3,000 Americans under General Boyd. The Americans were defeated with a loss of 249 killed and wounded and 100 prisoners. The British lost 203.
  
1813  
Battle of Châteauguay (Chesapeake ) British victory
Fought 1813, between the Americans, 7,000 strong, under General Hampton, and a force of Canadian Militia, far inferior in numbers, who were strongly posted near Chateauguay. The Americans attempted to storm the Canadian lines, but the Canadians made a most gallant defense, and repulsed them with heavy loss.
  
1813  
Battle of Black Rock (Niagra ) British victory
Fought 1814, between 1,400 British troops under General Riall, and a force of 2,000 American Indians, occupying a strong position at Black Rock. The British stormed the entrenchments and dispersed the enemy, following up their success by the seizure of Buffalo.
  
1814  
Battle of Chippewa (Niagra ) Americans victory
Fought July 6, 1814, between 4,000 Americans under General Jacob Brown, and 2,400 British, 1,500 being regulars, under General Riall. Riall attacked Brown in a strong position at Chippewa, and was repulsed with considerable loss.
  
1814  
Battle of Lundy's Lane (Batavian Revolt ) British victory
Fought July 25, 1814, between 5,000 Americans, under General Jacob Brown, and 3,000 British, under Sir George Drummond. Drummound occupied high ground on each side of Lundy's Lane, where he was attacked by the Americans. The fighting lasted till far into the night, when a final assault was repulsed, and the Americans retired to Chippewa with a loss of 858. The British lost 878.
  


Commander
Short Biography
General Brock Commander of Canadian forces during the War of 1812. Won early victories, but killed at Queenston Heights.
Stephan Van Rensselaer Heir to one of the largest fortunes in the United States, governor of New York, and military Hero.
Laura Secord During War of 1812, warned a British Lieutenant of an impending surprise attack.
Jacob Brown Commander of the United States army during the War of 1812, in the New York region.


Story Links
Book Links
Perry's Victory on Lake Erie  in  Boys' Book of Sea Fights  by  Chelsea Curtis Fraser
The War of 1812  in  Story of the Great Republic  by  H. A. Guerber
Story of Laura Secord  in  Our Empire Story  by  H. E. Marshall
War of 1812  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Hull's Surrender of Detroit  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Lucky Shot  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Story of Sackett's Harbor  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Commodore Perry  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Remember the River Raisin  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Oliver Hazard Perry in  Twelve Naval Captains  by  Molly Elliot Seawell


Naval Battles in the Atlantic : 1812-1814

Constitution vs. Guerriere
ACTION BETWEEN THE CONSTITUTIONA AND THE GUERRIERE
The chief naval activity during the War of 1812 was a British blockade of most of the east coast. There were several spectacular sea-fights however, but they were generally small scale affairs without any strategic importance. The sea-fight between the Constitution and the Guerriere occurred only weeks after war was declared and did a great deal to boost American morale. Stephen Decatur, already well-known for his role in the First Barbary War, and several other naval heroes captured numerous British ships, and the U.S. Navy performed well over-all, but the only really strategically decisive Naval battle during the war was the fight on Lake Erie by Oliver Hazard Perry.



DateBattle Summary
1812  
Battle of Constitution and Guerriere (Naval ) Americans victory
A famous frigate action, fought August 19, 1812 between the British frigate HMS Guerriere of 49 Guns, under Captain James Dacres and the USS Constitution under Isaac Hull, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities between the two nations. After a furious battle, the Guerriere surrendered. Although of no strategic value, the early victory by American forces boosted morale among Americans considerably.
  
1813  
Battle of Shannon and Chesapeake (Niagra ) British victory
A famous frigate action, fought May 29, 1813, between the British frigate Shannon, of 38 guns, commanded by Captain Broke, and the American frigate Chesapeake, also of 38 guns, under Captain John Lawrence. The Chesapeake sailed out of Boston Harbour to attack the Shannon, and after a brisk action was taken by the board by the British. The Shannon lost 4 officers and 21 men killed, and 3 officers and 56 men wounded; the Chesapeake, 8 officers and 39 men killed, and 9 officers and 106 men wounded. Captain Lawrence was killed and Captain Broke wounded.
  


Commander
Short Biography
Isaac Hull Commander of the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.
Stephen Decatur Naval Hero noted for his exploits during the war Barbary War, and also the War of 1812.


Story Links
Book Links
Don't Give up the Ship  in  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans  by  Edward Eggleston
Old Ironsides  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
Constitution and the Guerriere  in  Boys' Book of Sea Fights  by  Chelsea Curtis Fraser
Don't Give Up the Ship  in  Story of the Great Republic  by  H. A. Guerber
Madison—War with Great Britain  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Constitution and the Guerriere  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Old Ironsides  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Wasp and the Frolic  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Young Hero  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Adventure of the Ship President  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Story of Stonington  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Shannon and the Chesapeake  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge


Chesapeake Campaign : 1814

Towards the end of the war, the British managed to enter Chesapeake bay and attack both Washington D.C. and Baltimore. In both cities state buildings were damaged, including the White House and Library of Congress, but the cities were not occupied, and the strategic objective appeared to be to bring a quick close to the war. This objective was obtained. A peace treaty was signed by the end of the year returning all prisoners and conquered territories to the condition the were before the war began. Since Britain was no longer at war with France many of the grievances America had with her were no longer relevant.

DateBattle Summary
1814  
Battle of Bladensburg (Chesapeake ) British victory
Fought August 24, 1814, between the British under General Ross, and the Americans under General Winder, who was opposing the British advance upon Washington, and had taken up a position which commanded the only bridge over the Potomac. Ross attacked with a portion of his force, under Thornton, and, having carried the bridge, a combined assault upon the main position resulted in a signal defeat of the American army, which broke and fled. Ross entered Washington the same evening.
  
1814  
Battle of Baltimore (Creek War ) British victory
This city was attacked September 11, 1814, by a British fleet of ten sail, under Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, and a land force of 3,270 under General Ross, who fell during the action. The Americans, 17,000 strong, under General Winder, were defeated, but the British retired on the evening of the 13th. The British lost 46 killed and 300 wounded, the Americans, 20 killed, 90 wounded, and 200 prisoners.
  


Commander
Short Biography
General Ross British general who led the Chesapeake campaing in the War of 1812. Burned the White House. Died at Baltimore.
Francis Scott Key Wrote the National Athem while imprisoned on a British ship during the Battle of Baltimore.


Story Links
Book Links
The Star-Spangled Banner  in  Story of the Great Republic  by  H. A. Guerber


Creek Indian War : 1813-1815

Battle of New Orleans
THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
The war in the southeast was tied up with an Indian Civil war, having no relationship to the conflict between America and Britain. It ended involving both countries however, and the interests of the Creek nation were naturally sacrificed to those the warring giants. Creek territory originally included Georgia, Alabama and Florida, and there was much mixing and intermarriage between the white pioneers on the frontier. When a band of creeks massacred over 500 whites, Indians, and mixed race settlers at Fort Mimms as part of an intertribal feud, the United States Government got involved, and took side opposed to the 'Red Stick' Creeks. The Red Sticks made an alliance with the Spaniards and British in Florida, but were defeated in several battles by Andrew Jackson. After defeating the main body of 'Red Sticks' he marched on Pensacola Florida, intending to take territory from the Spaniards who had helped the 'Red Sticks'. Pensacola surrendered easily and the British fled. From this victory, Andrew Jackson moved his troops towards New Orleans, where he expected another British invasion. It was this battle that Jackson is most famous for.

The battle of New Orleans was actually fought after peace had been declared, unbeknownst to any of the warring parties. Like most of the other American victories in this war, it was of little strategic importance, but an important moral booster, since showing the ability to 'stand up to Britain' was critical for any country that did not want to be pushed around by the imperial giant. The net result of the Creek Wars was the transfer of a great deal of creek territory to the United States Government, and an American foothold in Florida.



DateBattle Summary
1815  
Siege of New Orleans (Detroit ) Americans victory
This city, held by a garrison of 12,000 Americans, under General Jackson, was attacked December, 1814, by a British force of 6,000 men, under General Keane, aided by the fleet. On the 13th the American warships, lying in the Mississippi, were captured by a boat attack, and by the 21st the whole of the troops were disembarked. After a few skirmishes, Sir Edward Pakenham, arrived and took command on the 25th, and on January 1, 1815, a determined attack was made upon the American position. This failed, and owing to difficulties as to supplies, the British retired. On the 7th a final assault took place, but the assailants were again repulsed, with a loss of 1,500, including Pakenham, and the expedition then withdrew. At the time of the action peace had already been concluded, though of course neither party was aware of the fact.
  


Commander
Short Biography
Andrew Jackson Hero of the Battle of New Orleans, President of U.S., and founder of Democratic Party.


Book Links
Midshipman Farragut  by  James Barnes
Twelve Naval Captains  by  Molly E. Seawell

Story Links
Book Links
War with the Creek Nation  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Old Hickory  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
How Old Hickory Fought the Creeks  in  Historical Tales: American II  by  Charles Morris
End of the War  in  American History Stories, Volume III  by  Mara L. Pratt
Old Fort Mims the Foolish  in  Boys' Book of Border Battles  by  Edwin L. Sabin
Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend  in  Boy's Book of Indian Warriors  by  Edwin L. Sabin


Image Links


Captain Porter and Young Farragut arrive at the Essex
 in  Midshipman Farragut

The boatswain's mate discourses upon the war
 in  Midshipman Farragut

The young midshipman discovers a man-o-war
 in  Midshipman Farragut

The Essex and squadron at Nukahiva
 in  Midshipman Farragut

The Essex cuts out the bark
 in  Midshipman Farragut

Capturing the Alert
 in  Midshipman Farragut

Diagram showing the cruise of the Essex
 in  Midshipman Farragut

'We have started both our anchors, Captain Porter.'
 in  Midshipman Farragut

The Phoebe and Cherub attacking the Essex
 in  Midshipman Farragut

Appearance of the Thames battle-ground in 1860
 in Indian History for Young Folks

Battle of the Thames
 in Indian History for Young Folks
Lake Erie
Lake Erie
 in A First Book in American History

Jackson and the British Officer
 in A First Book in American History

Weatherford Surrenders to General Jackson
 in A First Book in American History

At the battle of New Orleans
 in A First Book in American History

The Guerriere was a helpless hulk in the water
 in America First—100 Stories from Our History

Battle Map: Lake Erie
 in Boys' Book of Sea Fights

Battle of Erie
 in Boys' Book of Sea Fights

Battle Map: Constitution vs. Guerriere
 in Boys' Book of Sea Fights

Action between the Constitution and the Guerriere
 in Boys' Book of Sea Fights

Wasp and the Reindeer
 in Boys' Book of Sea Fights

Launch of an English Man-of-War in 1812
 in The Hanoverians

The Battle of New Orleans
 in The Hanoverians

The Constitution and the Guerriere
 in Story of the Great Republic

Don't give up the ship.'
 in Story of the Great Republic

Lundy's Lane
 in Story of the Great Republic

Battle of New Orleans
 in Story of the Great Republic

The bugles at Chateauguay
 in Canada: Peeps at History
Tecumseh Defends the Whites at Fort Meigs
Tecumseh Defends the Whites at Fort Meigs
 in Back Matter

The massacre at Fort Dearborn
 in Back Matter
The Defense of New Orleans
The Defense of New Orleans
 in Back Matter

Where the Battle of Lake Erie Was Fought
 in Builders of Our Country: Book II

Perry Leaving the Lawrence
 in Builders of Our Country: Book II

Where the Battle of Plattsburg was Fought
 in Builders of Our Country: Book II

General Jackson keeping watch of the enemy from the roof of his headquarters in New Orleans
 in Builders of Our Country: Book II