Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 6 months ago

War of 1812 Question?

Did America chose a very strategic time to attack? I am doing a paper and am wondering with the majority of British forces fighting Napoleon did the US use this greatly to our advantage, with just a handful of militia in Canada?

Also if it was strategic because of lack of military in Canada how did the US not easily win?

8 Answers

  • 6 months ago

    They thought they did.  American generals thought that Canadians would love to throw off the British yoke, as they had done just over 40 years earlier.

    They were wrong.  Canadians were Brits, solidly so - many, in fact were Loyalists who had left the USA after the Revolution there.

    American generals proclaimed that an invasion of the northern colonies would be easy, "like a walk in the park."  They were wrong though!  The USA actually lost pretty badly, in part due to the bungling efforts of their military, and partly because the Canadians, who with their native allies fought so hard against the Americans. 

    Canadians like to point out it was us who sacked Washington, and burned the White House.  Of course, we were British then, but, it was the Canadian militia that did most of the fighting.

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    No, in 1812 the US only had a small army and had to rely on poorly trained state militias using their own weapons.

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    The Americans didn't choose to attack during the Napoleonic Wars because it was opportune.  They attacked because that's when their problems with Britain arose. 

    Britain was fighting a major war against Napoleon and needed manpower to man their ships.  So they resorted to impressment, or kidnapping sailors to work the ships.  They even did so to people on American ships.  Now, they weren't supposed to do it to American citizens, only British subjects, but it could be hard to tell the difference sometimes.  And Americans resented the violation of their sovereignty.  So they went to war. 

  • 6 months ago

    Yes, the fledgling US thought it was an ideal time to attempt something they'd been wanting to since the War of Independence; and with Britain preoccupied in Europe with Napoleon they assumed it would be a stroll. They badly miscalculated.

    The belief that it was due to British impressment of American sailors being the casus belli of the conflict is somewhat erroneous since the Royal Navy had all but ended impressment by 1810, and it was finally stopped by Parliamentary order 8 months prior to war - and if it was such a key issue, why is it not mentioned in either the US declaration of war or subsequent peace treaty?

    The other maritime issues the US had was that of the British blockade of Europe due to their conflict with France, which affected American trade. The US merchants in government objected and demanded war with Britain to put a stop to it. Yet France was doing EXACTLY the same thing, causing those same merchants EXACTLY the same issues, but there was no call for conflict with them. Now why would that be?

    There was also the issue of the slave trade. Britain had abolished the "trade" in slaves (but not yet slavery itself) in 1807 and any ship carrying African slaves to the West Indies or anywhere near it was stopped by the Royal Navy and their "cargo" removed, taken to Sierra Leone on the Atlantic coast and freed (hence the capital is Freetown). This infuriated American slave traders who were losing money due to the loss of their "goods" and they became very vocal about it.

    Then there was the uprising of Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, in 1807 who attempted to form a coalition of Native American nations to halt further spread of American settlers. Despite this taking place five years earlier and it being a solely home grown uprising, accusations were made by the "war hawks" in the US government, totally without proof, that this was due to agitation by the British. Probably because a similar accusation had worked in 1776.

    It was just another excuse to achieve the real aim of conflict with Britain - which was the invasion and take over British North America or rather Canada.

    The U.S., or parts of it, were definitely interested in Canada for several reasons. First, Americans had coveted Canadian territory and its fur trade since colonial times. Before the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress invited French Canadians to become a 14th colony. The Canadians declined. The Americans invaded Canada during the revolution in an attempt to drive the British from Quebec. In September 1775, General Richard Montgomery succeeded in capturing Montreal, but when Montgomery and General Benedict Arnold joined forces to invade Quebec, Montgomery was killed and Arnold was wounded. By June 1776, American troops had been driven out of Canada completely.

    Some Americans, particularly the expansionists in the West and the wealthy merchants, many in government, still had their eyes on Canada in 1812. And those eyes had dollar signs in them...

    So what did the British/Canadians want out of the war? Essentially, nothing. Aside from the US to behave itself and go back to the original borders and leave Canada alone. Britain had absolutely no desire to recover it's lost American colonies, as is often claimed. The British had discovered that without having to support it's American colonies through its own taxes with little input from its colonists (pre 1776, the average merchant colonist paid 1 shilling per annum in tax, whereas a Briton of equal standing paid 26 shillings and fourpence with half of it going towards the upkeep of the colonies) it suddenly had almost six times the money in its treasury. America was a drain on British resources and they didn't want it back. Britain was beginning to claim far more profitable colonies around the world.

    Overall, what was achieved? A resounding defeat for the US. They suffered over 20,000 casualties (as opposed to 3,000 British) had 5,000 deserters, $93 million of expense on top of $80 million of government borrowing which practically bankrupted the new nation. In an ironic twist, the original rebels of 1776, the North Eastern States, sided with the British due their main trade income being with Britain which the war was causing to collapse. Then, of course, the British re-invaded and ended up burning the White House. So when the British had finished with the French in Europe and over 10,000 battle-hardened soldiers were about to embark for the New World, the Americans realised that if they landed, there was a real chance that the USA would cease to exist - the British might simply re-absorb it back into the Empire, even though the British weren't interested in that. But because of this fear, the US desperately called for peace and the British were magnanimous.

    The British/Canadians achieved everything they set out to do. To stop the US claiming Canada and got the added bonus of profitable fishing rights and trade routes in the North West and being able to patrol US eastern coastal waters for the next 99 years.

    The main reason victory for the US in 1812 wasn't "easy" is because unlike the Revolutionary War, they had no major European allies like the French, Spanish and Dutch providing them with the assistance they needed or opening up second or third fronts against the British or on the ocean. It taught the US that without these major allies they could never hope to defeat Britain.

    However, American author and history professor, Donald Hickey, points out the peculiar trait of the minds of 19th Century Americans that has spilled over into the present day, creating this "US victory" or "draw" myth:-

    "After the years slipped by, most people forgot the causes of the war. They forgot the defeats on land and sea and lost sight of how close the nation had come to military and financial collapse. According to the emerging myth, the United States had won the war as well as the peace. Thus the War of 1812 passed into history not as a futile and costly struggle in which the United States had barely escaped dismemberment and disunion, but as a glorious triumph in which the nation had single-handedly defeated the conqueror of Napoleon and the Mistress of the Seas." 

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  • Marli
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    I presume because the British and Canadians did not want them to win.

    When writing an essay, base it on facts you have researched, not on presumptions from people who have not studied the war.  Do your research properly.How many American soldiers were stationed at the borders between the U.S. and Canada? How many were professionals?  How well were they trained to fight? How competent were their leaders?Same questions for those on the Canadian side. The Iroquois Confederacy were allies of the British.  What of their prowess in war?

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    Very very strategic, almost tactical.

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    the Young war Hawkes only supported the war of 1812 if the USA was to annex Canada

    so the Only reason  from Congress was the annexation of Canada the USA

    want Proof CANADA

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    Having virtually eliminated the combined Spainish French fleets in 1804, they were capable of raising hell for U.S. shipping.  We were tired of them seizing U.S. citizens off merchant ships. 

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