The War of 1812



  • The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for a number of reasons. Until 1814, the British Empire adopted a defensive strategy, repelling multiple American invasions of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. However, the Americans won control of Lake Erie in 1813, seized parts of western Ontario, and destroyed the power of Britain's Indian allies both in Canada and in the Southwest. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, the British adopted a more aggressive strategy, sending in large combat armies. British victory at the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814 allowed the British to capture and burn Washington, D.C. American victories in September 1814 and January 1815 repulsed British invasions of New York and New Orleans.

  • The war was fought in three theatres: At sea, warships and privateers of both sides attacked each other's merchant ships. The British blockaded the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war. Both land and sea battles were fought on the frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River and separated the U.S. from Upper and Lower Canada. The South and the Gulf Coast saw major land battles in which the Americans destroyed Britain's Indian allies and defeated the main British invasion force at New Orleans.

  • In the U.S., battles such as the Battle of New Orleans and the earlier successful defense of Baltimore (which inspired the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner) produced a sense of euphoria over a "second war of independence" against Britain.



  • Class 1 - Causes - The United States struggles to maintain neutrality during the Napoleonic War. Britain seizes ships and impresses American seaman. British agents in Canada support American Indians in northwestern territories. War Hawks in Congress force President Madison to declare war in 1812.

  • Class 2 - Campaign of 1812 - Invasion of Canada - America declares war. The Baltimore riots challenge freedom of the press. Hullís invasion of Canada fails. Indians massacre soldiers and settlers at Fort Dearborn.  British rally to victory at Queenston Heights.

  • Class 3 - Campaign 1812 - North Atlantic and East Coast Blockade - U.S. ships attack British vessels in the Atlantic. Britain extends the blockade and keeps U.S. warships in port. British naval forces raid in the Chesapeake Bay area.

  • Class 4 - Campaign of 1813 - Jackson fights the Creeks in the Mississippi Territory.  Perry wins the Battle of Lake Erie. British and Americans battle on the Niagara Frontier. American campaign against Montreal fails.

  • Class 5 - Campaign of 1814 - Washington and Baltimore - Jackson continues campaign against the Red Stick Creeks. Fighting continues along the Niagara frontier. The British attack Washington and Baltimore. Peace negotiations begin.

  • Class 6 - Treaty of Ghent and Battle of New Orleans - The theater of the war moves to the Gulf Coast as the British try to capture New Orleans. Neither side realizes that the treaty of Ghent has been signed and is waiting for ratification by both governments. The Hartford Convention signals the decline of the Federalist Party.






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Revised 10/02/2013