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"The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than" Topic

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Herod's Gate

Part II of the Gates of Old Jerusalem.

2,042 hits since 26 Mar 2020
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2020 9:38 p.m. PST

…Americans Do.

"As we look forward to celebrating the bicentennial of the "Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key, I have to admit, with deep shame and embarrassment, that until I left England and went to college in the U.S., I assumed the words referred to the War of Independence. In my defense, I suspect I'm not the only one to make this mistake.

For people like me, who have got their flags and wars mixed up, I think it should be pointed out that there may have been only one War of 1812, but there are four distinct versions of it—the American, the British, the Canadian and the Native American. Moreover, among Americans, the chief actors in the drama, there are multiple variations of the versions, leading to widespread disagreement about the causes, the meaning and even the outcome of the war…"
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Artilleryman28 Mar 2020 3:36 a.m. PST

Not a bad summary of the British view. Good find.

Bob the Temple Builder28 Mar 2020 4:49 a.m. PST

I visited the US and Canada in 2012, and the war was certainly see in a different light on both sides of the border.

I did have to suffer one US guide droning on about how the US had licked the Brits at New Orleans … and as a result, had won the war. He did not take it well when I pointed out that the battle had taken place AFTER the peace treaty ending the war had been signed, that the Canadians and Brits had won the odd victory at places like Lundy's Lane, and that the White House had been captured and burnt by the British.

It was an unnecessary, unfortunate but unavoidable war.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2020 10:46 a.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


Steamingdave229 Mar 2020 12:04 p.m. PST

Never thought of "War of 1812" in relation to the American War until recently. 1812 has always meant "Napoleon in Russia" to me, even though I am a bred and born Brit. I do remember Lonnie Donegan singing " Battle of New Orleans" in the 1950s though!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2020 2:51 p.m. PST



Robert le Diable17 May 2020 12:58 p.m. PST

"They ran thro' the Briars & they ran thro' the Brambles
And they ran thro' the Bushes where the Rabbits couldn't go;
They ran so fast the Greyhounds couldn't catch them O,
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico!"

Major Bloodnok01 Jun 2020 3:29 p.m. PST

"They ran through the snow and they ran through the forest,
they ran through the bushes were the beavers wouldn't go,
they ran so fast they forgot to take their culture,
back to America and Gulf and Texaco!"

Richard Alley10 May 2021 12:35 p.m. PST

What were the cause(s) of the 1812 war?

sidley08 Oct 2022 1:21 p.m. PST

Although the US quote the battle of New Orleans which came before the treaty of Ghent was known, they forget about the seizure of Fort Bowyer after New Orleans which laid open Mobile and then the news of the treaty of Ghent saved Mobile from an attack which would probably have succeeded.

Brechtel19812 Nov 2022 4:40 p.m. PST

What were the cause(s) of the 1812 war?

Three excerpts from the Committee on Foreign Relations: Report on the Causes and Reasons for War, June 1812, which was an official report from the subject committee as to the causes of the war, and as an 'appeal to arms' against Great Britain:

'…After the experience which the United States have had of the great injustice of the British Government towards them, exemplified by so many acts of violence and oppression, it will be more difficult to justify to the impartial world their patient forbearance, than the measures to which it had become necessary to resort, to avenge the wrongs, and vindicate the rights and honor of the nation. Your committee are happy to observe, on a dispassionate review of the conduct of the United States, that they see in it no cause for censure.'

'…More than seven years have elapsed since the commencement of this system of hostile aggression by the British Government, on the rights and interests of the United States. The manner of its commencement was not less hostile than the spirit with which it has been prosecuted. The United States have invariably done everything in their power to preserve the relations of friendship with Great Britain…'

'…This lawless waste of our trade, and equally unlawful impressment of our seamen, have been much aggravated by the insults and indignities attending them. Under the pretext of blockading the harbors of France and her allies, British squadrons have been stationed on our own coast, to watch and annoy our own trade. To give effect to the blockade of European ports, the ports and harbors of the United States, have been blockaded. In executing these orders of the British government, or in obeying the spirit which was known to animate it, the commanders of these squadrons have encroached on our jurisdiction, seized our vessels, and carried into effect impressments within our limits, and done other acts of great injustice, violence, and oppression. The United States have seen with mingled indignation and surprise, that these acts instead of procuring to the perpetrators the punishment due to unauthorized crimes, have not failed to recommend them to the favor of the government.'

'Whether the British government has contributed by active measures to excite against us the hostility of the savage tribes on our frontiers, your committee are not disposed to occupy much time in investigating. Certain indications of general notoriety may supply the place of authentic documents, though these have not been wanting to establish the fact in some instances. It is known that symptoms of British hostility towards the United States have never failed to produce corresponding symptoms among those tribes. It is also well known that on al such occasions abundant supplies of the ordinary munitions of war have been afforded by the agents of the British commercial companies, and even from British garrisons, wherewith they were enabled, to commence that system of savage warfare on our frontiers which has been at all times indiscriminate in its effect, on all ages, sexes, and conditions and so revolting to humanity.'

So it appears that the maritime issues were causes of the war. The conquest of Canada was neither an object for declaring war nor a cause of the war itself:

Canada is not mentioned at all in Madison's 'War Message to Congress' in June 1812.

Canada is not mentioned in the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations 'Report on the Causes and Reasons for War' previously mentioned.

Canada is mentioned in a letter from Secretary of State James Monroe on 13 June 1812 to John Taylor, mentioning that 'in case of war it might be necessary to invade Canada, not as an object of the war but as a means to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.'

So, it does seem by these three documents that the conquest of Canada was not a war aim of Madison but as a means to attack the British on land. That seems to be a common sense idea in order to take the war to the enemy and not wait on the defensive. Any idea of 'conquest' would come as an afterthought, not as an initial war aim by the Madison administration.

The War of 1812 by Harry L. Coles has some interesting discussion of the causes of the War of 1812 in the first chapter, Prologue to War, 23-25.

He notes that President Madison submitted his ‘war message' to Congress on 1 June 1812 and that ‘the document was an indictment of British policy under five main heads.'


Second-‘the practice of British cruisers hovering near American ports and harassing entering and departing commerce.'

Third-‘the blockades that were…illegal even according to definitions issued by the British themselves.'

Fourth-the Orders in Council. Madison charged ‘that the commerce of the United States is to be sacrificed, not as interfering with the belligerent rights of Great Britain; not as supplying the wants of her enemies, which she herself supplies; but as interfering with the monopoly which she covets for her own commerce and navigation.' George Canning charged in parliament ‘that the Orders in Council had been transformed from a blockade into ‘a measure of commercial rivalry.' And Canning was ‘a staunch adherent of strict blockades.'

The ‘commercial rivalry' denounced by Canning ‘had been done through the sue and the abuse of a system of special licenses. The Board of Trade had the power to issue licenses exempting ships and cargoes from the effects of the blockade. It is not difficult to see that the interests of the empire might be well served by a judicious use of such power. The issue of licenses, however, became honeycombed with favoritism, corruption, and fraud. Many an Englishman who would have supported the government to the death on impressment and legitimate blockades blushed at the traffic in special licenses.'

Fifth-‘the renewal of Indian warfare on the western frontier.'

So, of Madison's five points for declaring war, four were concerned with maritime issues, and one with the Indians. There were none for invading and taking Canada as a permanent possession.

I do hope this answers the question that was put.

Brechtel19812 Nov 2022 4:50 p.m. PST

Although the US quote the battle of New Orleans which came before the treaty of Ghent was known, they forget about the seizure of Fort Bowyer after New Orleans which laid open Mobile and then the news of the treaty of Ghent saved Mobile from an attack which would probably have succeeded.

Although the Treaty of Ghent was signed on 24 December 1814, it was not in effect until the US Congress approved it and President Madison signed it. That didn't happen until mid-February 1815.

Therefore, New Orleans was fought before the war ended. The attack on Fort Bowyer was in early February. It in no way was comparable to the attack on New Orleans and it should be noted the fort was taken by siege, not by direct attack. And the British attacked at Mobile in order 'to mitigate the disastrous failure that had been suffered' at New Orleans.

After it was established that the war was actually over, all active field and naval operations were ended. A frigate arrived on 14 March with definite news of the ratification of the peace treaty. The British embarked to return home and those units that had not been 'mauled' at New Orleans were went to Europe and ended up at Waterloo.

Brechtel19813 Nov 2022 9:00 a.m. PST

…no rest for the weary…

Brechtel19813 Nov 2022 3:18 p.m. PST

Regarding the White Terror pursued by the Bourbons after Waterloo, besides Ney and Labedoyere, the following general officers were executed:

-Caesar Faucher
-Constantin Faucher
-Francois Mouton-Duvernet
-Jean-Hyacinthe Chartrand
-Marshal Brune (and his body was thrown into the Rhone).

The following were imprisoned:


The following officers went into hiding or over the border into Germany in exile:

-Marshal Soult
-Drouet d'Erlon
-Exelmans fled to Belgium

The following officers went to the United States in exile:


The following had various fates:

-Bonnaire was publicly degraded and sent into exile penniless.
-Drouot refused to leave France and turned himself into a court-martial and was acquitted.
Lavalette, the imperial postmaster general, was imprisoned and condemned to death, but was rescued by his wife and Sir Robert Wilson and two British officers. Lavalette was smuggled into Bavaria.

The Bourbons planned other executions in Davout's Army of the Loire. Macdonald replaced Davout, got hold of the proscription list, and warned his former comrades allowing many of them to escape and cross the border into Germany where they were welcome.

Augereau and Davout were stripped of their rank and pay.

The whole mess was highly dishonorable to the Bourbons and their followers.

Brechtel19814 Nov 2022 5:37 a.m. PST

Sorry for the above, I posted it in the wrong thread.

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