Skip to comments.Tallying the winners and losers of the War of 1812
Posted on 12/12/2012 4:08:05 PM PST by Squawk 8888
The human cost of the War of 1812 was dramatic. Some 35,000 people were killed, wounded or missing at the end of the war. York (now Toronto), Niagara (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) and Washington, D.C. were torched. Elsewhere, homes and properties were looted and damaged and family lives were thrown into chaos.
The borders between British North America and the United States might not have changed when the fighting stopped the old lines were reconfirmed in the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war on December 24, 1814. But once the treaty was signed, there wasnt simply a return to the prewar status quo. There were wins and losses on both sides, and a new world order to navigate not least for the continents native people.
For Canadians, the War of 1812 is the story of American invasions of Canada and the successful defence of British America by British regulars, Canadian regulars and militia, and First Peoples warriors, says Peter Macleod, pre-Confederation historian and curator of the Canadian War Museums 1812 exhibition. In short, we won because we repelled the invaders. The shared experience of standing up to the United States in terms of resources and manpower, a Goliath to British North Americas David united formerly separate British colonists and recent American immigrants. It forged the beginnings of a distinctly Canadian identity, even if it was negatively defined as not American.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.nationalpost.com ...
They returned to status quo ante, i.e. no winners and losers. Have they read the treaty??
No real winners, but American Indians lost big time when the British withdrew their support.
Well, after reading the article as presented I’d say the author missed the big point - the “First Peoples” picked the wrong side.
The article doesn’t mention the biggest losers of the war, the Shawnees and their allies who were decisively beaten at Horseshoe Bend. That victory opened up all of what was then the Southwest (Alabama, Mississippi and beyond) to settlement. Also, the plan of the British to forge an anti-American alliance between the Indians in the old Northwest and old Southwest was foiled.
200 years later we think of the "War of 1812" as a military conflict between the U.S. and Great Britain, but at the time there were many U.S. state governments -- especially in the South -- that considered it a local conflict between the State of New York (for example) and the British colony of Upper Canada (now Ontario).
My view is a bit different. The Brits unsuccessfully attacked a sovereign country and were repelled.
A small fleet on Lake Champlain and sunk or captured the invading British naval forces near Plattsburg. The tactics are still studied at the US Naval Academy.
Remember the River Raisin!
Good post. Thanks
They didn't have much choice in the matter- the Americans refused to honour the treaties they made with Britain prior to the Revolution, so their only chance to keep their land in Canada was to side with the British. Their support was critical to keeping the Americans out of Upper Canada.
The US declared war on Britain (which didn’t want to fight the war), tried to seize Canada, failed, and then spent most of the rest of the war mostly on their own territory trying to fend off the vengeful blows from the British before a treaty returning to the status quo ante bellum (which is what the British wanted all along).
How is that an American victory? How is it even a draw?
Correction, it was the Creeks who lost at Horseshoe Bend.
Come on Man !
Had they been able to, we’d have a few more northern states.
does it really matter?
(Ok - it does ;-)
The war of 1812 was about pushing the Brits back across the St.Lawrence River and keeping them north of the river and north of the Great Lakes. It’s much easier to defend a natural barrier like that than the land border we have with Canookistan now.
The Brits did not respect US independence. A war was inevitable. The final decisive US victory at New Orleans earned the US respect and British acceptance of the Louisiana Purchase. If the British had captured New Orleans, the outcome could have been very different.
One of our mistakes (I believe) was in letting the Brits occupy Forts Niagara and Ontario on Lake Ontario until 1796....well after the 1783 Treaty.
I have a copy of the Treaty of Ghent in my files...someplace.
How do you reckon that? It is well known that the treaty of Ghent was signed before the Battle of New Orleans, and you are saying they would have said ‘Oh, on second thoughts....’
In any case, a few days after the Battle of New Orleans the same British force (under more effective new leadership) successfully captured Fort Bowyer and were within an ace of capturing Mobile, Alabama when news of the treaty arrived, whereupon they immediately vacated the field and the fort, the same would have happened had they received the message had they successfully captured New Orleans.
IMHO the spectacularly one-sided nature of the Battle of New Orleans has been seized and contorted by biased historians as being more significant than it actually was, and is used as a distraction from the fact that the US did not achieve it initial aim of conquering Canada and ended up having to spend the rest of the war on the defence trying to stop the British rampaging through the US...
Both the principles have mostly forgotten it.
**** the plan of the British to forge an anti-American alliance between the Indians in the old Northwest and old Southwest was foiled.***
I believe they tried it again working to get a treaty with the new nation of Texas, Mexico and Canada against the US, possibly due to conflict in the Oregon territories.
Texas was so horrified they immediately applied for Statehood with the US.
The US and Great Britain never had really friendly relations till Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (with Annie Oaakley) toured there.
The Battle of New Orleans was fought after the war was over; news of the Treaty of Ghent had not arrived. Even if the British had captured New Orleans the would have withdrawn.
We would also have gained a large French-speaking population as well as a lot of Indians.
Causes of the War of 1812
1. The British Navy, stealing cargo and people, and impressing our merchant sailors.
2. Interference in United States shipping and trading.
3. British encouraging the First Nations to fight and attack Americans.
They were taking our seamen. And we were not impressed.
The Brits uh... they sensed our power and they sought our life essence.
We, uh... we do not avoid Brits, Squawk 8888. But we ... we do deny them our essence.
Man, these 1812 threads attract you Canucks like blue-bottle flies to a dead possum ...
Causes of WWII
1. Restless Germans looking for a good meal and shaven women.
2. And a bunch of other stuff.
The main reason we went to war was because Western Congressmen wanted to invade and conquer Canada.
The whole Sailor impressment thing was a pretext - the New England states that had the sailors being impressed DESPERATELY did NOT want to go to war with Britain, and they actually came close to seceding because the hated the war so much.
We failed to conquer Canada. Hence, we lost.
This is actually a weird case where what you learned in school was both wrong and incomplete, but the truth SOUNDS like some sort of invented Left-wing revisionist America-hating clap-trap, but it isn’t.
RE: First Peoples
“They didn’t have much choice in the matter- the Americans refused to honour the treaties they made with Britain prior to the Revolution,”
And the Americans refused to honor every treaty with the natives for the next 70 years.
As a matter of curiosity why would western congressmen want to invade and conquer a British colony to their north?
Not to mention the fact that the British had already conceded to the US on the point about impressement, news of which arrived a few days after the declaration of war. Despite this, the US decided to pursue the war anyway, to their profound disappointment...
The British wanted us to have Maine?
The Brits burnt Washington and the Yanks burnt Toronto (Parkdale specifically)—I would call that a win-win and, as an American living in rural Ontario, would be happy to see it repeated.
But it did give us a great song by Johnny Horton. That alone makes it worthy.
There is an interesting Wiki article that sums up the degree to which martial events in the New World were influenced by those in the Old - This One. The Nine Years' War, to begin with, the wars of the Spanish and Austrian Succession, and the better-known Seven Years' War that pitted Frederick the Great against Maria Theresa and a very young George Washington against the French several thousand miles away in what we term the French and Indian War. The American War of Independence, in which the French got their revenge against the British for the latter's takeover in Quebec. The French Revolution, in which the French paid for the debt they'd incurred tweaking the British nose in America. The Napoleonic Wars, in which the British stopped an astonishing French expansion, and to which the War of 1812 served as an interlude between the Grand Armee's disaster in Russia, and the Hundred Days and Waterloo.
Napoleon got his own future revenge in the New World in 1803 by selling Jefferson's administration the Louisiana Purchase, openly proclaiming he did so as a geostrategic move against the British, and as it eventually turned out, a stunningly successful one. And so, in my opinion, the British might be forgiven for viewing with considerable apprehension in 1812, the present and inevitable U.S. expansion to both the west and the north. To the north they managed to hold a line. To the west, it was hopeless.
There, however, it took some time to work itself out. The slogan "54-40 or fight" represented American expansionism not simply into British territory but abutting Russian claims. By 1846, when that was working itself out, Texas had already won independence and was setting up for the Mexican-American War, wherein the issue was claims the new Mexican government had inherited from both the Spanish and the French.
It is only outside this context that one can adhere to the strange and rather provincial claims of historians such as Howard Zinn that America must be judged in isolation and as inherently aggressive, imperialistic, oppressive, and evil. Despite the separation of the Atlantic ocean events in the New World were very much a function of events in the Old. In a sense events in the Old such as the French Revolution were a function of a reverse influence. If the honest reader does not attempt to understand it all together he doesn't stand much of a chance of understanding it at all. Just my $0.02.
The men who fought would have liked to hear that song.
The Treaty of Ghent had been signed but not ratified. The treaty could have been discarded if military events had been different.
You make a good point about Britain's apprehension over our westward expansion. Secretly, when the time was right, the British planned to argue that Napoleon lacked the authority to sell the Louisiana to the U.S., on the theory that France had usurped the throne of Spain thereby making the treaty that ceded the Spanish claim to the Louisiana Territory to France a nullity. Not knowing this, the American negotiators in Ghent were puzzled over what they saw as some apparently harmless but overly technical language in the treaty that the British government insisted on, but which could have been used later to justify Britain's refusal to return any territory in Louisiana that they might have occupied by conquest. It was Andrew Jackson that put "paid" to that plan.
Britain tried again later when it offered to take the Republic of Texas under its wing, making it a British territory. Britain's thought at the time, not unjustified, was that this would be an acceptable compromise to both Mexico and the Texans, and once again put a brake on our expansion westward. They came close to success: as the debate over slavery made the prospect of admitting Texas as a state seem more and more unlikely, many in Texas saw an alliance with Britain as their only practical option.
“How is that an American victory? How is it even a draw?”
Because we get to live here, and British people have to live there. We won.
Britain as far as I can tell had no interest in re-conquering the old American colonies, only in defending Canada (again, the crucial point here is that Britain absolutely did not want to fight a war with the US and tried to avoid it through diplomacy). Britain successfully repelled the American invasion of her territory and took the war to US territory instead.
Based on the initial war aims of both sides, Britain won the war. America at best mitigated what could have been a completely disastrous mistake on their part to declare war on Britain. Calling the war of 1812 a US victory requires a truly impressive level of cognitive gymnastics to genuinely believe when taking in all of the evidence, otherwise you’re just looking at the Battle of New Orleans etc and ignoring the overall strategic picture.
Not that it matters, but the US didn’t even win the last land battle of the War, which was the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer, in which the Americans lost almost as many troops (mostly as POWs) as the British had seen killed in the Battle of New Orleans, as well as about 22 captured artillery pieces...
I’m not going to let your facts distort my delusions. The war was a victory because 20 years after gaining our independence we kept it; Britain ended up with Britain, and we ended up with the United States. I’m sure every British soldier that fought in North America was pondering that as they sailed back to their rainy, foggy island (or worse, had to stay in Canada). Well, at least they hung on to Bermuda...