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.