Saturday, January 28, 2012

The war in the eyes of a Canadian

The war of 1812 happens to be my favorite war to study, and I hope all of my followers have learned a lot about it and are interested in learning more. I just want to apologize if I seemed to be biased in my past posts, I am Canadian and therefore I do take pride in our accomplishments. I mean come on we remained strong against multiple attempts of an American invasion with the help of the British. We were able to keep everything that was ours prior to the war and really this was Canada’s first big win! The war of 1812 may be considered the “forgotten war” in the eyes of the British, and many people both Canadian and American know so little about it. The war was mostly controversial due to the fact that there was no clear winner. Every party involved won something thanks to their efforts, though America’s reward was only sentimental. The war of 1812 really shaped America into what it is today, if anything went differently things now would be completely different. We should all be thankful now that Canada and the USA gets along now!

If any of you wish to inform yourselves more about the War of 1812 or any of the battles in specific I highly recommend watching the documentary made by the History Channel. I’ve seen it multiple times online and everything is obviously historically accurate and interesting to any history lover. Also, Fort Malden ( Fort Amherstburg) is holding the War of 1812 Bicentennial this summer if anyone's interested in seeing real life re-ennactments and having fun!

Unconventional: Peace treaty and the battle of New Orleans

Unconventional: Peace treaty and the battle of New Orleans
Other events that were unconventional in the war of 1812 which caused a lot of controversy were the peace treaty signed between Great-Britain and America and the Battle that took place afterwards in New Orleans.
In 1815 America signed a peace treaty that asked for both countries to return to the same geographical position as they were before the war. Now in the past this would never happen. Any other peace treaty ever signed simply asked for peace and for both parties to be content with what they’ve had or what they’ve gained. This peace treaty made everything that had happened during the war of 1812 pointless. All of the lives lost so that the Americans could take over Canada, and so that the British could dominated America, they meant nothing.. No matter what they had lost or gained nothing changed!

The battle of New Orleans is completely unconventional because it too was not at all necessary. The message of a peace treaty didn’t arrive in time, and the British had already set sail to New Orleans where they would destroy anyone who got in their way. This was so unbelievably stupid because the war was OVER. On a much smaller scale this is like tapping out in a fight, then getting up and punching the guy in the face. It’s just not something that happens, at least not up until that point. And so the battle of New Orleans took place, the Americans were positioned way too strategically for the British to successfully conquer them and so they lost. Afterwards both armies had received the news that the peace treaty had already been signed, and they realized that the entire battle was pointless.  Pretty funny I know. I guess if that were to happen now they would probably just tweet it right?

“Hey guys, what’s up ? Just thought I’d let you know that GB and the USA are cool now. No need to waste your time down there!”

If you're interested in knowing more about the battle of New Orleans here's a clip from a documentary for you!

The unconventional: ' Battle of Fort Detroit'

There were many things about this war that were unconventional compared to those passed. War is violent. There are many lives lost and many people saved. There are always going to be some deaths, or maybe not! The reason I believe that General Brock and Tecumseh were the best duo in the war of 1812 was because of this one unconventional ‘battle’. Now I don’t really want to call it a battle for the simple reason that the definition of a battle is a hostile encounter between two opposing military forces. The battle of Fort Detroit was not a battle, but a victory by default.
The image above shows American General Hull (right) surrendering Fort Detroit to General Brock (left).

Never before had there been a battle without any violence nor a single casualty. General Brock sent a letter to the Americans at Fort Detroit stating that they must evacuate the Fort immediately or suffer the consequences. General Brock was a very intelligent man, and he decided that if he could convince the Americans that he would send Chief Tecumseh’s tribe to destroy the whole city then they would leave without conflict in order to save their families. Brock’s idea was a success! The Americans left the Fort, took their families and relocated outside of Detroit out of fear for their lives. Not a single British soldier died! This would have never gone on in the past, and it was the first anyone’s ever heard of a battle won without bloodshed. They took Detroit with a single letter, and that is why General Brock is the man.. the man with the plan.

Comparison of goals obtained or failed

Now since my blog is about the impact of the controversy of the War of 1812 I figured that I would do a comparison between the goals and objectives obtained and failed by the British/ Canadian side.

The British and Canadians went to war simply to hold the front against American soldiers wanting to take over Canada and make it a part of the United States. The battles were largely won by the British forces, but there were still many upsetting defeats. The British battalions had lost several well respected Generals during key battles. The most significant loss was that of General Brock in the battle of Queenstown Heights. The British allowed Americans to take control of 'upper Canada' and had decided they would try to take over American territory instead of protecting their own. So while Americans had torched the city of York the British had destroyed the nations capital of Washington. I believe that the British are neither winning nor losing the war, as much as they've lost they've also gained.

The Americans wanted to expand into Canada and be respected by Great-Britain. They did expand into a tiny chunk of Canadian territory but their argument for wanting respect was pointless. The British government had terminated the law imposing taxes on American vessels prior to the start of the War of 1812. For that reason I believe that the Americans are currently losing. Their main cause for war was already resolved making the death of the thousands of American men un-needed

 Above is a painting of General Brock and Chief Tecumseh, possibly the most powerful duo for the various battles in the War of 1812

How's everybody doing?

Now I figured I would give you guys a brief update on the condition of each country after the various battles in the war of 1812. The battles were numerous and the casualties ranged in the thousands. Both sides have accomplished a lot, but also have failed in things as well.

The Americans have kept a strong hold on the states surrounding the western great lakes. They have restored their dominance on the water and have even taken over part of upper Canada. The city of York (Toronto) had been destroyed. Regions like Essex county and London were in control of the American soldiers and the battalions that occupied them.

The British have lost part of upper Canada, which was their responsibility to keep, but in exchange have taken much of the American territory. They retaliated by burning down the Whitehouse with amazing style in order to show the Americans that they meant business. The British had control of Fort Detroit, Fort Baltimore as well as many others. Another positive element going for the British was that although they’ve been significantly outnumber up to date they had received many more soldiers from Great- Britain. The Napoleonic war ended in 1814 and so the British sent thousands of more soldiers to Canada to restore the territory that was once theirs. Therefore, I believe that though the Americans were doing fairly well, the British had the advantage now with the increase in size and the amount of territory taken.

Below is a picture of the British and American campaigns as well as the regions they occupied buring the War of 1812.

As you can see the regions of upper Canada were taken by the Americans. States like Virginia, Ohio and New York were won over by the British.

The torching of Washington

Canadians picked the White house! The attack on York has changed the war of 1812 around all together. Before this personal attack the British remained stationed in the areas near the American border in order to protect Canada. The actions of the American army on the city of York enraged both Canadian and the British soldier. British officers plotted their revenge, which resulted in a retaliatory attack on the nation’s capital in Washington.

Now if the burning of Washington doesn’t seem that cool to you you’re wrong. British Generals Ross and Cockburn led their battalions straight to the Whitehouse while they government officials there were still evacuating. When the British arrived they went straight to Congress to hold a mock legislation. The vote was unanimous BURN THE WHITEHOUSE, and so after destroying Congress on fire they made their way into the Whitehouse. A feast which had been prepared for a presidential diner remained untouched. Not wanting to waste any food the British officials decided to have a party of their own in the Whitehouse. Once there was no more food they decided that it would be a good time to burn it down.

The reason I think that the destruction of America’s capital is much more successful than that of York is because the style and manor they did it. In York the American’s had a surprise attack with three times more the soldiers. Whereas in Washington the British still had less soldiers and their arrival was known. They destroyed the presidents home leaving him homeless for a long period of time. Till this day there are still doorways in the Whitehouse that are burnt, and they were left there to remind the Americans of what the British battalions had done to their dear capital.

The link below is a song written by a Canadian rock band, and I thought you guys would enjoy it. OH CANADA!

Battle of York (Toronto)

The battle of York is in my opinion the biggest loss for Canada during the war of 1812. Believe me when I say that it wasn’t that impressive by any means. I mean don’t get me wrong Great Brittan and Canada clearly lost. The American’s has successfully taken control of what was considered ‘upper Canada’. The American militia had eventually made its way up to York which was being used as a part time home for our nations government.

The British were outnumbered roughly 3 to 1, and the city was caught off guard. Woman and children had minutes to hide and find a safe place before arson and looting had begun throughout the city. The biggest loss was that of the several government buildings in the area. York shared its place as a part time parliament with Montreal and therefore I believe their success was not nearly as impressive as they believed. The fact that Canada had two parliaments proves that the destruction of one in York meant little to Canadians in the end. The American’s didn’t have much to brag about. They caught Great- Britain off guard with a surprise attack on the unsuspecting city and the battle was short lived. Now I know I’m Canadian and my opinion might seem to be biased, but ask yourself this. What seems like a bigger accomplishment to you? The destruction of a few government buildings in Canada OR the arson and degradation of the White house, home to the president of the United States of America? 

The video below gives more detail on the attacking and defending strategy as well as the reaction of Canada afterwards.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The battle of Queenstown Heights

The battle of Queenstown Heights took place in the Niagara region in 1813. The casualties were only of the dozens  on both sides of the battle, the greatest loss being that of General Brock. Brock was a well-respected British General who had conquered in all of his previous battles.  Though Great Britain successfully stood their ground against the Americans on the battlefront, the death of General Brock was a major loss to the entire British Army. I personally believe that he was the most successful, organized and respected General out of all of the battles of 1812. His strategies of both defence and attack proved the enemies that Great Britain and Canada are a strong force, and are not some territory that will simply be given in good spirits. Though the battle of Queenstown Heights was won by Great Britain I do believe it was in some ways lost.

The American’s launched a surprise attack on the British army when they landed on the shores of Queenstown Heights. Due to that they were able to gain the advantage in numbers by having approximately five times more soldiers than Great-Britain.  Therefore GB was for the first time completely thrown off guard and had to act quickly. General Brock led his troops into town where they encountered heavy fire. One musket’s shot pierced a hole through General Brock’s chest, another through his wrist. These wounds resulted in an almost sudden death. I believe that General Brock should have stood his ground at Fort George and wait for more soldiers to arrive. There was no reason to go defend a small town when they had a clear disadvantage in numbers and in organization. Should Brock have stayed at Fort George he would have decreased the amount of casualties, including his own death. Was the battle of Queenstown Heights won by the Brittish even with the loss of the most important General implicated in the war? I believe it is a decisive win for GB, but also a decisive loss. Who knows what General Brock would have accomplished if he were to lead a battalion in the other wars. The very country we know now would be almost entirely different.

Below is an image of Sir Isaac Brock (General of the 49th batallion) ordering his small batallion to charge towards the 6000 American soldiers that stand before them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fort Amherstburg

In 1813, the town of Amherstburg, Ontario was the most largely populated area in all of Essex county. Being in the prime location to control the path of transportation, the British built Fort Amherstburg in order to stop the American ships that traveled along the river.
From the Fort the soldiers watched the American's attack various forts nearby, but they never attempted to take over for Amherstburg. General Proctor made the difficult decision to destroy Fort Amherstburg and move his army along the river front to the Thames river. Tecumseh (chief of the native soldiers) pleaded with General Proctor to stay in position and not march to the Thames river.
This decision came as a loss to the British army, as fatigue and positioning had played a big roll in their defeat. The question remains, was it in the interest of the British to stay and protect Fort Amherstburg as Tecumseh suggested? Or was it more strategic to re-locate to an area that was more likely to be taken?

I believe that it would have been more strategic to stay in Fort Amherstburg to protect the region of Essex county, and stop the American soldiers from invading Canada. Though General Proctor had good reason to re-locate to a more idea battleground he had too many faults in the plan.  In the various battles in the War of 1812 the Fort's played a big role in the success of an army. The moment General Proctor left the ideal location of Fort Amherstburg he lost that battle. The soldiers were tired from a long march and had no fort to protect them from an attack. The British army therefore had nowhere to seek shelter and that led to their defeat.

Above is a painting of  General Harrison's (American General) batallion taking the British soldiers by surprise with an attack on land at the Thames river.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The causes of the war of 1812

The War of 1812 has long been a subject for debate since it had began in 1812. History is always written by the conquerer, but the conquerer of this war is un-clear. Both Great Britain and the United States of America had different motives for being implicated in the war. In short, the US was interested in expansionism and waged war on Canada in several areas in order to turn Canada into an american territory. The reason for this was the oppresion commited by Great Britain on the seas. The US was implicated in commerce with France in order to support Napoleon's war, and therefore was not respected by Great Britain (who at the time was fighting Napoleon's war). James Madison (US president) urged congress to wage war against G-B and seize one of it's colonnies (Canada). On the other side Great Britain went to war with the US in order to protect Canada from expansionism.

Having said that now, there is a controvesy on who was right and wrong on going to war. In the defence of the US, Great Britain showed a lack of respect, a sense of superiority as well as kidnapping of american sailors to fight Napoleon's war.

However in my opinion Great Britain had good reasons behind every one of the arguments I previously stated. G-B was at war with Napoleon's army (the strongest at the time) and therefore needed to stop him by any means possible including the oppresion of US ships used for commerce. I believe it makes complete sense that G-B would stop American ships and make them pay taxes so that it became unaffordable for American's to support Napoleon. G-B needed to fight Napoleon in any way possible in order to defeat his army!

I now leave it up to my followers to defend any side they feel was right and had the best intentions behind their actions. The video bellow provides additional detail in the matters I have discussed. I look forward to your opinion!