The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813

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Pierre Berton. To America's leaders in , an invasion of Canada seemed to be "a mere matter of marching," as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of ,? Yet, when the campaign of ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and the British were in control of all of Michigan Territory and much of Indiana and Ohio.

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In this remarkable account of the war's first year and the events that led up to it, Pierre Berton transforms history into an engrossing narrative that reads like a fast-paced novel. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

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Steamships and steam-powered railroad engines came into profitable use for the first time during the war years. While they had little effect on the North American conflict, these steam machines would become the technological standard in the decades to come. Machines made with interchangeable parts became more common during the War of , although the practice was not yet applied to military manufacturing. For the common soldier, the most significant advancement may well have been improved food storage through airtight packaging.

Internationally, the war helped codify a fair standing between the United States, Britain, and Canada.

This led to an era of mutually beneficial trade and diplomatic partnership. Domestically, the war exacerbated tensions between northern industrialists and southern planters. Industrialists were reluctant to go to war with Britain, which was then the worldwide model of the Industrial Revolution. Southerners, on the other hand, were quick to remember the French assistance that had helped win the southern campaigns of the American Revolution as well as the ideological similarities between the two revolutionary nations.

The American public generally viewed the outcome of the war favorably, causing the anti-war Federalist Party to fade from national prominence.

The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813

In the early years of the 19th century, the United States was a rapidly expanding commercial power. The prosecution of the war cost the United States government million dollars, which equates to roughly 1. The strain of raising this money drove legislators to charter the Second National Bank, taking another step towards centralization. Only 7, men served in the United States military when the war broke out. By the end of the war, more than 35, American regulars and , militia—though many of these were only mustered in for local defense—were serving on land and sea.

The global British regular military comprised , soldiers in Roughly 15, Americans died as a result of the War of Roughly 8, British and Canadian soldiers died from battle or disease.


The losses among Native American tribes are not known. Oliver Hazard Perry was a young naval officer who won the Battle of Lake Erie, capturing an entire British naval squadron and permitting the liberation of Detroit. Jacob Brown was an infantry officer who built up an impressive service record in the war, culminating in the successful defense of Fort Erie despite a seven-week siege. He was later promoted to Commander General of the U.

He was later elected President of the United States. William Hull coordinated the first invasion of Canada.

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Within weeks, however, he surrendered Detroit and his army to a smaller British force without firing a shot. Winfield Scott was a brave fighter who also implemented a training system that greatly improved the battlefield performance of the American army. Isaac Brock was a popular imperial administrator in Canada for many years before the war. He became a hero posthumously for his heroic but fatal defense of Queenston Heights.

Robert Ross led the veteran expeditionary force that burned Washington, D. He was killed outside of Baltimore at the Battle of North Point. James Fitzgibbon practiced guerrilla warfare, using deception, local intelligence, and guts to halt an American invasion of Canada at the Battle of Beaver Dams. He was killed at the Battle of New Orleans.

Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames and his Confederacy fell apart. Black Hawk was a Sauk chief who fought against American frontiersmen. Gordon Drummond was a Canadian-born officer in the British Army. Robert Livingston was a military courier who had, over the course of his life, been half-blinded by a tomahawk, speared more than twice, and shot in the thigh. He helped lift the siege of Fort Mackinac by smuggling in fresh supplies using camouflaged boats. Richard Pierpont was a former slave who won freedom by fighting for the British in the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Lake Erie September 10, — Oliver Hazard Perry won fame for his heroic deeds in this victory, which secured Lake Erie for the rest of the war and paved the way for the liberation of Detroit. The Battle of the Thames, Ontario October 5, — William Henry Harrison crushed a combined force of British and Native Americans in this battle, killing the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and thus removing the most dangerous threat to American settlers in the northwest. - A Chronology of Canadian Military History - Invasion Repelled

Stubborn resistance at North Point and Fort McHenry saved the city, compelled the British to suspend their campaign, and inspired the American national anthem. The Battle of New Orleans January 8, — Andrew Jackson inflicted over 2, casualties on attacking British troops while suffering in the entire campaign. The battle became a touchstone of American pride. The capture of Detroit August 16, — Only weeks after the war began, American General William Hull surrendered Detroit, along with a sizable army, without resistance to a smaller British force.

The Battle of Bladensburg August 24, — British regulars routed Maryland militia in this battle, opening the road to Washington, D.