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I am doing a project on the War of 1812. This war was between the British and the Americans. While the British were at war with the Americans, they were also at war with Napoleon’s France. What started the feud first was the fact that the British navy had seized some American ships and had took some seamen hostage. Even though the British tried everything to stop the war, the American’s were determined to have the war, even though they were confused about some of the reasons why.  They were that determined for a war that they cut off all trading to the British so that they would have to fight. The British, who were still fighting the war with the French, needed to trade with the Americans for supplies for the soldiers fighting the war. America was one of Britain’s (among other places) main sources of trade and with them not trading, it didn’t look good for the British troops.


The statement, "The War of 1812 was not primarily fought over the issue of Impressments", is true. One of the major causes for the war was that the British were supplying the Indians with weapons and other supplies so that they would fight against the Americans. Another big issue that started it was the land issue, the Americans wanted more than just rights to the Maritimes, and they wanted the other part of North America that the British King still ruled and that would make sure British didn’t get the Indians of the West on their side. One of the last big reasons was to get revenge on the British for making a fool out of them, insulting them, and injuring some of their seamen while capturing their ships and stealing goods out of them.


On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on BritainBritain was already at war with Napoleon’s FranceBritain didn’t take America that seriously, even though the Americans had taken over the Thirteen Colonies of British North America. Britain tried to avoid the war but they’re attempts failed. Thirty-four years earlier, during the American Revolution, the Americans attacked Canada to try and capture it from Britain. They did not succeed for the most part but they did end up capturing Montreal. The Americans thought the best idea for solving their problems would be to get the British out of Canada and out of the British colonies in the United States. The War-hawks attacked Canada hoping to beat the British out. While they were fighting there, some people in Georgia, Tennessee, and the Mississippi attacked Florida. The Spanish had a colony in Florida and the reason why the Americans attacked the Spanish was because they were allies to Britain in the war against France.


When the war started, America had a population of about 7,700,000 but only 11,700 people in the regular army, with about 20 navy ships showed up to fight. Most of Britain’s army was fighting France and not a lot of troops could go to Canada for Canadian defense. There were only about 7,000 British/Canadian troops to defend the country when war broke out. Major General Isaac Brock gave about 2,400 of his own military men to help out with the war. Even though the Americans overpowered the Canadian/British troops, the Canadians had Indian tribes on their side.


The Americans planned a naval attack on the British right away. There was an old invasion route through Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River that led to the most populous and important part of their enemies territory. The Americans already had Montreal and that cut the communications between the two parts of Canada. But the defense in the west was low and would be easier to attack with less casualties, the attack was made through the Detroit River and the Niagara River.


The war was fought in three stages. The first stage lasted until the spring of 1813; England was so tied up in Europe fighting France that it had no troops or ships to spare for the war against America. The second stage lasted from the spring of 1813 until the beginning of 1814. England was able to get a tight blockade from American troops but could still not reinforce their troops. The third stage was fought from right through 1814. British ships and troops were constantly arriving; they were finally able to take the offensive side.


The first attacks of war were in Detroit and led by Brig. Gen. William Hull. He arrived at the fort in Detroit in July of 1812 with 1,800 troops which he led to battle in Canada. Canada’s defense was low at that time; it only had about 150 British men, 300 Canadian men, and 250 Indians. Mr. Hull didn’t do what everyone thought would have been the best approach; instead he issued a bombastic proclamation to the people of Canada and stayed at the river landing opposite of Detroit and sent out small attack groups. While that was going on, the British sent out a small group to cut the communications off between Ohio and General Hull. General Hull was getting discouraged because the British had already captured Fort Michilimackinac around July 17th. He also knew that the British had got some reinforcements in Fort Maiden and was afraid that Detroit would be cut off completely from its base of supplies. On August 7th he started to get ready to leave to go back to Fort Detroit. As soon as they had abandoned that base the British took it over and started setting up artillery. By August 15th, five guns were positioned and opened fire on Fort Detroit. General Hull had called for some more troops and on their way to the fort they were ambushed and massacred by Indian troops. The next morning they attacked it on foot. The Americans in Fort Detroit surrendered to the British.

Right after the capture of Detroit the British moved out to the Niagara Frontier where they were invaded with 6,500 Americans. Van Rensselaer of the American army had a plan to cross the Niagara River and capture Queenston and its heights and try to get rid of the British troops from there. Another American superior, Smyth, wanted to go to above the falls and attack from there. Van Rensselaer refused to do it that way so he attacked by himself with ten times more troops than the British.


October 13th was big for the British even though general Brock was killed. Even though 1,300 Americans were ferried across the river under heavy British fire, more than half of them insisted to stay on American soil. When Van Rensselaer asked General Smyth for back up, Smyth wouldn’t give him any. Around that time the British got more reinforcements in Queenston. Major General Sheave came to take care of the British army after general Brock died. He began his offence with 1,100 Canadian and Indian troops. The Americans were outnumbered and tired and were defeated.


After the defeat in Queenston, Van Rensselaer resigned and General Smyth took over. He wasn’t a very good leader; all he did was spend his time writing windy proclamations. The new army was after being marched down to the river and back so many times that they had given up and were sent home. The ones who stayed lost their discipline. General Smyth had resigned shortly after.


The objective for the beginning of 1813 was to recapture Detroit and attack Canada through Lake Ontario. None of that worked out because the weather wasn’t working with them and it The British were ready for almost any attack.                          


After Hull’s disaster in 1812 and Harrison’s unsuccessful winter showed that in order to take the offensive they would have to go to Lake Erie and do it. Commander Perry was assigned to this mission of taking over Lake Erie. By August he was ready and his army was superior to the British in everyway other than long range arms. In September Perry met up with the British troops, defeated them and took over Lake Erie.


As soon as the damage to Perry’s ships and the British ships they had captured were repaired, the army sailed against fort Malden. They sailed down to Detroit. The British had nothing else to do but surrender both Detroit and fort Malden. On October 5th the Americans caught up with the British who had fled for Malden and made them surrender. Lake Erie became an American Lake, the Indian confederacy was shattered, and the Americans took Detroit back. 


In fall of 1813 there was an attack on Montreal. Two generals of the American army who were not getting along tried to ambush the English army. Neither of them had a way of communicating back and forth but they tried the attack anyway. When they found the English, they didn’t have enough arms and had to retreat.


Fighting broke out in 1813 also, near the east coast. The British sent a fleet and blockaded the Delaware and Chesapeake bays. There wasn’t a lot of defense there for the Americans but they held them off for a little while until they got reinforcements. The English were forced to sail off. There were no casualties that day.


In 1814 about 4,000 American men captured about 8 miles of Canadian land before only 200 British troops stopped them. Also the American army upgraded. They got 45 new infantry regiments, 4 riflemen regiments, 3 heavy artillery and 1 light artillery, and 2 light dragoon regiments.


The next attack was against Fort Erie. In July 3,500 Americans attacked and took over Fort Erie and advanced towards Lake Ontario. The Americans attacked the British and the British withdrew and retreated.


The British called upon Britain for reinforcements. 16,000 veterans from the war over the French had come over.


The British and The Americans met up at Lundy’s Lane near Chippewa. They battled over night. They were both reinforced late into that night because of all the casualties. Both sides claimed they won that battle. After being reinforced at Lundy’s Lane the British attacked Fort Erie to try and recapture it but after huge losses they were forced to pull back.


During the summer, the Canadians attacked the American coast. They successfully captured Eastport, Maine, on Passamaquoddy Bay, and Castine, at the mouth of the Penobscot River without resistance. Also, the British entered Washington and burned the whole city.


Peace negotiations were starting to go on but they had one battle to go. It was at Louisiana. There were over 2,000 British men killed and more than that were the Americans. It lasted from December till February.


The Peace negotiations were worked out and the war ended.

The War of 1812, Jan 2005, Lonita Graham