War of 1812

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Dr. Bob, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Enjoying study of this. History Channel started a new series on it last night. Of course, I missed it (HEY, the Bronco's were in a tight game with KC)

    Anyone see it? Critique? I'll try to catch reruns.
     
  2. rsr

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    I caught bits of it twice (the same bits, BTW): from the burning of Washington to the Battle of New Orleans. What I saw looked good, but I missed out on Scott at Niagara and the early part of the war.

    I'll try to catch it on Cable in the Classroom, which has no commercials.
     
  3. Melanie

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    Goodness, and here I thought the War of 1812 was Napoleon in Russia etc.

    Why one earth was the USA at war.....
     
  4. Major B

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    The two things are related. The UK had been "impressing" (kidnapping) American seamen that they deemed to be British subjects, because of the difficulty of recruiting sailors for the British navy. There were also border disputes, etc. With a few notable exceptions, the war was distinguished by spotty military performance on both sides. The most resounding American victory actually took place after the peace treaty was signed and before the word got back, as Andrew Jackson and a rag-tag group of pirates, freed blacks, rural militia, US regulars and marines, and "southern gentlemen" fought a brilliant defensive action against a large force of British regulars, decimating the attacking British forces.
     
  5. Melanie

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    Ta muchly Major B!
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Also, Brits were to abandon all posts/influence in the West (think Appalachians to Mississippi River) after the colonies gained independence. But in the 30 ensuing years, Brit control and work with Indian allies disrupted that region.

    US thought the simplistic answer would be to take York (Toronto) Montreal and Halifax and make the British colonies into American states. And secure the "west" as a result. Part of 1812 War was recognition by the fledgling US that Britain was enmeshed in a European War with Napoleon and probably would not put much emphasis on a war so far removed.

    They were wrong on all parts! And we began the first "limited" war . . but not our last.
     
  7. Stratiotes

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    Major B summarizes the "official" US history of the reasons for the war. I think, as in most wars, those were more excuses rather than the real reasons and I suspect Major would probably agree. I think the primary reason was the feeling among some that the UK was treating us like we were still a colony and our political leaders were pressed to prove their legitimacy. There was also a debate among our leaders over whether we favor the French with their bloody revolution or the English and their patronizing attitude in the greater war.

    On top of that, there was the desire to take control of British holdings in the west and north while they were preoccuppied with Napolean. We yanks don't like to think we ever had the slightest hint of imperialist thinking but I think its pretty apparent in 1812 and in the Mexican war less than 40 years later.
     
  8. Matt Black

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    The failure of GB to observe Jay's Treaty was a contributary factor, as Dr Bob says. A fairly pointless war on both sides, but the Peace of Ghent did mark the beginning of reconciliation; when you look at the demilitarised border between Canada and the US, you have the War of 1812 to thank for that ultimately.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  9. Stratiotes

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    Matt, I'm glad you joined this one... I've always wondered what an Englishman would say to those that tout the Naval abilities of the US Navy in the war of 1812. Do you think it is generally believed that the British sent their "second string" out against the US and that the British Navy was never really seriously challenged - or, was the US Navy grossly underestimated?

    To me, the fact that they did as well as they did against the greatest naval power of the time is truly amazing. When we read of French/British naval encounters of the same period it seems a rather one-sided contest. But, US histories tend to make the US/British encounters out as David and Goliath stories.
     
  10. Major B

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    Oh, believe me, Strat, I accept the fact that Manifest Destiny was purposefully imperialist. At least some of the Fathers (Hamilton for sure) saw the need for the US to dominate North America, to prevent a reconstruction of Europe, with its tribal wars, on this continent. President Polk, one of our least understood presidents, who added 25% or more of the territory we now possess, did what he did on purpose.

    To those who criticize the imperialism, I say, "Imagine if there were four nations or more where the US is now--with different languages, customs, forms of government, etc." I can't see that as better for us or for the world.

    Yay, Manifest Destiny!
     
  11. Matt Black

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    Major, it depends; you could have just as easily ended up with one US and three 'Canadas' as one US and three 'Mexicos'

    Strat, don't forget that the UK (as it was by then from 1801) was engaged in a major war on the European continent and the best of the army and navy were employed there; to us, the War of 1812 was very much a sideshow, to the US it was in many respects the 'Second War of Independence'. But that doesn't detract from the success of Andy Jackson and Co at New Orleans, or indeed other American successes.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  12. Stratiotes

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    Yes, the ole "second string" view that the UK's Navy was preoccuppied by a *real* threat in France and saw the American threat as hardly worth the effort. I'm not saying that isn't a good argument, I was just wondering if that was the typical English view of the matter or if there were other explanations.

    My wonder is in the fact that the French Navy was almost always defeated in engagements with the English but the American was quite often successful...this, despite the fact that the US Navy did not even match the French in size. How was the smaller of two forces opposing the English more successful than the larger of the two? I know Napolean did not think highly of the Navy and so his Navy often suffered neglect but I don't know that they suffered any more neglect than the Navy under American leadership.
     
  13. MNJacob

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    Let’s clarify a few things about the performance of our navy during the War of 1812. It was actually less remarkable than we have a tendency to think. There were no fleet actions. We didn’t have a fleet. The Shannon defeated and captured the Chesapeak at the outset. “Don’t give up the ship!”

    The President, under the command of Stephen Decatur blundered into a British squadron and surrendered without firing a shot. The cruise of the Essex, upon which much of “Master and Commander” was based, while disruptive of the British whaling fleet in the Pacific ended when the Essex, an experiment armed totally with short range carranodes was outsailed, out maneuvered and finally pounded by the long range guns of two smaller opponents. The weather gage really was the determining factor in that engagement.

    The Constitution was successful under three different captains, beating up smaller opponents. The first was a 36 gunner and really no match. The Java was nominally a 44 gunner, but Old Ironsides had a much heavier weight of broadside. The last, against the Clyde and Levant also took place after the official cessation of hostilities and once again was against two much smaller opponents.

    The Constitution class of heavy frigates were remarkable and created quite a stir in Royal Navy circles as there really was no effective current answer. They were really too heavily armed and crewed to be efficient as battle fleet scouts in the manner that the RN used their frigates, but they were too fast to be caught by any ship of the line and too heavily armed to be taken by anything less.

    The RN was actually quite effective. England was our primary trading partner. And our economy suffered greatly. It isn't all that widely remembered, but the states in New England almost seceded during the war of 1812.

    One of the real long range consequences was that most American trading vessels were transferred to flags of convenience in order to evade the press gangs of English warships.

    The flag of convenience thing continues to the present.
     
  14. Matt Black

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    Bit of tangential trivia: four miles from me, in the village of Wickham, there's a building called 'Chesapeake Mill', which was constructed of timbers from the 'Chesapeake'. (It's currently in the process of being converted into flats.)

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  15. Stratiotes

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    MNJ: I think I agree with you on the analysis.

    Typically, it is accepted that the US Navy did quite well and then the analysis goes to explaining why - either they were English-trained or the English were busy with more important matters or whatever. I think to question the traditional American view is a better analysis. I think it also speaks to the issue of American military affinity for superior technology (as with the Constitution). Not to detract from the US Navy but I don't think their performance was anything like the near-miracle that most of us learned in grade school.
     
  16. DavidsAngel

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    -coughs- the Game was not one I liked simply cause the cheifs didn't win!!

    OH you mean the show I was watching the game too so I didn't catch it.

    i'm enjoying these replies about this war.

    I have to agree in the war of 1812 we were just getting our act together, while trying to extend our borders. We did quite well considering we were a very new country. And, seeing as how in less than 100 years with little help we became a world power, THEN a major world power in 200, and are now onlt matched out by our cloeset friends, it's intresting to see how we did it. I think if we had not meat so much resistance we would not have become the power we are today.
     
  17. Stratiotes

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    I was disappointed (but not surprised) in the Chiefs as well. I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a great game so I didn't watch. But, I don't have the History channel anymore either so I missed out on both counts.

    What are some of the favorite books on the War of 1812?
     
  18. DavidsAngel

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    The war of 1812 is not a war i've ever really done any study on. So i'll just listen and get an idea of things I can read [​IMG]
     
  19. PastorGreg

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    2 great songs came out of the War of 1812: "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scoot Key, and "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton.
     
  20. Baptist Vine

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    I didn't see it. But I saw the advertisement for the History channel, where the characterized the war as "...America's re-declaration of independence..."

    I thought that characterization was ironic, considering the war was an invasion by hawks who believed in the manifest destiny doctrine, but were eventually repelled.
     

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