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"The US Navy in the War of 1812: Winning the Battle..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2019 9:22 p.m. PST


"Part One discussed the U.S. Navy's failures to effectively prosecute the war at sea and defend the maritime frontier during the War of 1812. The final objective, to maintain superiority on the lakes, stands apart from the rest of the U.S. Navy's performance in the war. Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan recognized, "[t]hat even the defects of preparation, extreme and culpable as these were, could have been overcome, is evidenced by the history of the Lakes."1 Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough's preparation and execution on Lake Champlain stands in particular contrast to the greater Navy's ability to demonstrate the value of enemy-oriented planning and shipbuilding.

An American defense from a Canadian attack (and, for the War Hawks of Congress, the invasion and annexation of Canada) relied on control of Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Champlain. Dense wilderness and mountainous terrain covered most of the U.S.-Canadian border in the early nineteenth century. The Lake Champlain Valley between the Green and Adirondack Mountains provided a corridor for a large army to transit, but passage required control of Lake Champlain for transportation and logistical support. The lake runs 107 miles long, but is only 14 miles at its widest, and drains north into the St Lawrence River via the Richelieu River…."
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Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2019 4:57 a.m. PST

Too much reliance on Mahan; errors in dates (stating that Napoleon assumed 'taking over France' in 1803, four years after the coup that brought him to power), and stating that Leipzig occurred in October 1814.

Not well researched to my mind.

Blutarski10 Dec 2019 1:37 p.m. PST

While it is fair to say that the Americans achieved moral and propaganda victories at sea, the USN in the War of 1812 had zero realistic chance of winning a naval war against Great Britain in the conventional sense, and those odds dramatically decreased with the abdication of Napoleon.

Although what was accomplished on the Great Lakes by the Americans was both outstanding and miraculous, even there the tide would have inevitably turned had the war dragged on.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2019 11:33 a.m. PST

There was never any chance of the US Navy openly defeating the Royal Navy in the War of 1812.

However, the victories in fleet actions on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain were both decisive for whoever controlled the Lakes, controlled the theater.

And in ship-to-ship actions, the US Navy clearly dominated.

What is interesting to speculate upon is the idea what would the US Navy have had if the Jefferson administration had not drastically cut back the US Navy that had been carefully built up by the Adams administration and Secretary of the Navy Stoddert, which would have included six ships of the line available for employment in the early days of the war. That could have been significant. The Jefferson administration stopped their building, effectively relegating the US Navy to a frigate navy.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2019 9:13 p.m. PST

Part 2…



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