The Battles of the War of 1812

The War of 1812 is one if the least written about and studied wars in US history. Sometimes referred to as the “Second War of Independence” it largely came about as a result of British impressment of US sailors, deemed an attack on US sovereignty. Freedom of trade and the open seas were also a concern. There were few notable battles of the war of 1812, though it is a source of pride in Canadian history.

From the British perspective, the war was primarily seen as a smaller theatre of the Napoleonic wars. A vast majority of their military power was tied up fighting Napoleon and the French army in Europe until 1814. Thus, they relied heavily on the Canadian colonies and their Native American allies to raise the manpower. Using their powerful navy to blockade US ports, the British could keep the fighting contained to the Americas.

Perhaps the most well known aspects of the war is that the British burned down the White House, as well as the British bombardment of Baltimore led to the creation of the nations anthem: the Star Spangled Banner. In addition, a source of American pride is in one of the final engagements of the war: the Battle of New Orleans. Andrew Jackson handed a decisive defeat to the British and turned into a national hero.

The Battles of the War of 1812

British Casualties of the Battles of the War of 1812 chart

Total casualties during the war are estimated at ~11,300 for the US and ~8,600 for the British. When examining the major battles of the war it is astonishing to see how concentrated the overall British casualties are to a few battles. Most noteworthy is the battle of New Orleans, upon which they suffered ~2,000 casualties: almost a quarter of the entire war.

What’s worse is that the battle technically took place after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed. The treaty that ended the war in December 1814 took so long to cross the Atlantic and reach America that the nations were already at peace when the British had their stunning loss in February 1815.

Other notable major battles of the war include at Plattsburgh, Lundy’s Lane, and the defense of Baltimore.

At Plattsburgh, the naval battle was a decisive US victory which prevented a planned British march on New York City. Lundy’s Lane was an especially bloody battle for both sides near Niagara, NY but was fought to a stalemate. The defense of Baltimore was centered on a land battle (North Point) and sea battle (Fort McHenry). The defense of Baltimore was eventually successful, and a major detriment to British Invasion plans for the region.

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Source: War of 1812

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