Military Review

How the US tried to seize Canada

Napoleonic wars were raging in Europe, and Washington also decided not to waste time. The Americans decided to defeat the British forces in America and take control of Canada and Florida. The Anglo-American War 1812 — 1815 in Canada, it was named the “1812 Wars of the Year”, in the USA - the “Second War of Independence”. It is also called the “forgotten war”. Its most famous event was the capture of Washington by the British when the White House and the Capitol were burned.

General situation. Background conflict

In 1800, the Democratic Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson became president of the United States. His rise to power is called the "National Revolution 1800 of the Year." The inauguration of President Jefferson was the first example of the transfer of power from one party to another in stories USA. The federalist party, which advocated a strong national government with extensive financial powers, was defeated and lost forever a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, losing the leadership of the Democratic-Republican Party.

The Democratic-Republican Party acted with democratic slogans that supported broad sections of the population. The elitism of the federalists, who found support among businessmen and in the rich states of New England, did not contribute to their success. In addition, the federalists favored good relations with England. Jefferson’s party initially adhered to the doctrine of a centralized government with limited powers governing the relations of the states among themselves and with other countries, while in other matters the priority remained with local authorities. But in fact, when the Democratic-Republican Party gained power, it began to look more and more like the Federalists. Now Republicans have become tolerant of expanding the powers of the federal government.

How the US tried to seize Canada

Portrait of T. Jefferson by Rembrandt Peel (1800)

Domestically, the Republicans reduced government spending, abandoned the pomp that was adopted at the White House under Adams, tried to eliminate national debt, saying that the country should not increase its debt by obtaining foreign loans. Many taxes were abolished. Jefferson believed that the federal authorities could be provided only with customs duties without taxes. This led to the flourishing of the economy in peacetime. However, later, when from the Napoleonic wars, US trade with Britain and France was broken, the treasury became empty.

In order to save significantly reduced the army and navy. According to Jefferson, the big armed forces exhausted state resources and finances. In the event of war, the army was planned to increase with the help of volunteers, as it was during the War of Independence. However, the need for leadership was recognized, so Jefferson established the US Military Academy at West Point and increased the Army Corps of Engineers.

The USA constantly absorbed new territories. But if they didn’t stand on ceremony with the Indians, they used deception, soldered them, handed them unnecessary trinkets, bribed the leaders, set off various tribes between themselves, did not hesitate to use brute force, if the natives resisted, then with the European powers (Spain, France and England, who owned the vast territories in America), it was more difficult. They themselves knew how to deceive (conduct "politics"). But to fight with the great powers was dangerous.

However, here the United States used the principle of taking advantage of other people's misfortunes. France during this period waged endless wars with neighbors, and was in dire straits. The French could not fully defend their colonial empire. In 1803, Paris decided to sell Louisiana territory - a huge piece of land in the central part of the modern United States, from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to Rupert Land in the north, and from the Mississippi River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. In Louisiana entered the land around 15 modern American states, and it is twice the size of the then United States. Spain in the 1800 year handed over to Louisiana at the disposal of France, but the French could not keep it. All the forces and resources of France were connected in Europe. Louisiana was sold for 15 million US dollars (80 million francs). As a result, the United States received a huge new territory and a strategic new Orleans for the country, which fully controlled the Mississippi River - one of the main waterways of North America, and an important trading center. So the foundation of the American Empire was actually laid.

In 1803, the conflict between England and France broke out with renewed vigor. America essentially refrained from participating in hostilities, but many public and political figures believed that the United States was waiting for a "Second War of Independence." It was about money. While the European powers were measured by force on the battlefield, American businessmen used the moment to obtain additional profits. England and France did not like this state of affairs. They rightly believed that prudent Americans profit from their conflict by trading with both powers. France was not happy with the fact that the “continental blockade” was being violated. In 1805-1807 England and France maximally tightened shipping conditions for American ships. They began to seize American ships and take their cargo. Moreover, the British, under the pretext of fighting desertion in their navy, began to take away all the sailors who were not born in America. There were many such then - the war for independence ended only in 1783.

Jefferson said that the country suffers unlawful harassment from England and France - states, one of which can be compared "with a nest of pirates, and the other with a thieves' hangout." Given the status of a neutral country, the American president pursued a policy of "peaceful containment." In 1807, Congress passed the “Embargo Act”, which banned US ships from entering foreign ports. In fact, the maritime trade of the United States was paralyzed. The embargo operated for a year and three months and dealt a serious blow to the US economic interests. Shipowners, traders, seamen and farmers were particularly affected. This took advantage of the federalists, who strengthened their positions.

Jefferson backed down and one of his last laws lifted the embargo. His successor, new president James Madison (4 th USA president, reigned from March 1809 to March 1817 of the year), in 1810, restored trade with European states. True, trade with France and England was not restored. When the French government canceled its restrictive orders that prevented the neutral countries from trading France, Madison gave permission to trade with the French. The ban on trade with England was retained and became one of the prerequisites for the conflict between the two powers in 1812.

James Madison

In addition to the conflict in the sphere of trade, the Americans were dissatisfied with the British border policy. Residents of the frontier in the West complained that the British deliberately introduced discord in their relations with the Indian tribes in order to prevent the American colonization. Especially a lot of problems gave the Americans the Shawnee (Shawnee) uprising. Indiana Governor William Henry Harrison was deceiving the Indians, concluded numerous disadvantageous land use agreements with them. The leader Tekumse and his brother the shaman Tenskvatava led the resistance of the Indian tribes (Tekumse war). They posed a serious threat, as they not only had the audacity to defend their lands, but also attempted to unite the scattered and warring Indian tribes in the fight against the common threat. In 1811, the Indians were defeated. However, with the outbreak of the Anglo-American War in 1812, Tecumseh joined the British with his warriors.

A “hawk party” was formed in Congress, with Henry Clay from Kentucky, John C. Calhoun from South Carolina, and other leaders who insisted on a war against England. In their opinion, the moment was convenient for capturing new lands in Canada, in Florida. And in general it was necessary to defend the "honor" of the American Republic.

Under the influence of these warlike sentiments on 1 June 1812, President Madison blamed England for hostile attacks on land and at sea. In England, they didn’t know about it and wanted to make peace - 16 June London lifted trade sanctions. But it was too late. In the United States decided to fight. 18 June Congress declared war on England. In the House of Representatives, 79 congressmen voted to declare war on Britain, 49 voted against. All Republicans voted for the war, most federalists were against it. The Americans believed that it would be an easy victory, "a military walk to Canada." In Canada, there were almost no regular troops, mostly militia (militia).

Map Source: D. McInerney. USA: Country History

The 1812 war of the year

It must be said that, despite all its aggressiveness, the United States was not ready for regular war. The army in the prewar years was reduced to 7 thousand people, and the fleet - to 20 ships. Frightened by talk of cash concentration and excessive spending charges, the Republican Party closed down the US National Bank, leaving the country without a central financial institution during the war. In addition, there were no internal taxes in the country, and Congress prevented their introduction. Customs fees have fallen sharply again due to the war. I had to fight on credit. The Democratic-Republican Party, vehemently denying the concept of public debt, has driven the country deep into debt. 1812 to 1815 Congress 6 times resorted to loans totaling $ 80 million. But really managed to get 41 million. And the overwhelming majority of the amount (87%) was provided by New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and the Federal District of Columbia. New England (the richest part of the country) contributed just 7%, while the South and the West, shouting loudest about the need for war, even less - 6%.

Congress decided to increase the army to 25 thousand soldiers. Also created 50-thousand. state militia with a service life of 1 a year (later up to 100 thousand people). However, these ambitious plans mostly remained on paper. There were no volunteers to fight. In addition, America was supported by the union of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Screams, Seminoles, Choctaw and Chickas). In alliance with the British, the Shawnee, led by Tecumseh, and the tribes of Canada. Behind weapon The “royalists” (“loyalists”), the former Americans who fled to Canada from the revolution, also undertook.

The American command planned to launch a major offensive on land, since the US naval forces were weaker than the British several times. In general, the war was sluggish, and consisted of a number of skirmishes and raids. The main hostilities unfolded in the Great Lakes region and in the border areas of Canada and the United States. The Americans showed complete incompetence in military affairs, having lost the first advantage. The British did not have enough regular troops to organize a serious offensive. England was in no hurry to send troops to America, distracted by events in Europe. However, they had the ability to restrain the onslaught of the enemy by small forces. Therefore, all dreams of seizing Canada had to be forgotten when the threat of defeat and a military-political crisis arose.

The first stage of the war, despite the employment of England in European affairs, was not in favor of the Americans. The command was incompetent, there was no money, and the soldiers did not have enough. People refused to join the army and the militia. American soldiers died more from diseases than from enemy bullets. The state authorities refused to take the militia beyond their borders, taking care only of their staff. States that supported the federalists (New England), in fact, embarked on the path of treason. The federalists continued to trade with Canada and even provided loans to the British. Meat, which was supplied by American suppliers, mainly from the states of Vermont and New York, in 1814, they fed two thirds of the British army.

It is clear that in such a situation the offensive of the American army failed. Attempts by the American forces Gul and Westsworth to invade Canada failed. And General Hell not only failed the invasion of Canada, but he himself capitulated in Detroit on August 16 of the year 1812. He surrendered the fortress with 2-2,5 thousand garrison, 35 guns and all reserves, although there were only 1,3 thousand British soldiers, Canadian militia and Indians under the command of A. Brock. In October, the Americans suffered another defeat. October 13 1812 Hill Queenston Heights happened a decisive battle between the 5-thousand. by the US Army under the command of Steven van Rensseler and 4 -thousands. British army, Canadian volunteers and Indians under the command of Major General Isaac Brock. Brock fell in this battle, but the American offensive was repelled. The deceased general was posthumously awarded the unofficial honorary title "Savior of Canada."

Battle at Queen's Heights

Canadian Savior Isaac Brock

A British squadron of 5 ships blocked the US coast. The Americans responded with raids by privateers who seized around six months about 200 ships in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean and for the entire war over the British ships 1300. In all, during the war, up to 500 letters of marque were issued. Privateers were based in all ports of the North American Atlantic coast. Clippers from Baltimore were especially annoyed by the British. The captains from this port took 40 prizes worth 3-5 million dollars. Small high-speed vessels performed quite audacious operations. The most famous was the clipper "Chasseur", which captured 30 prizes, including the X. NUMX-gunner schooner "St. Lawrence. Captain Thomas Boyle, in August 15, announced the “total and rigorous blockade” of the British Isles for a joke in August. Another celebrity was schooner “General Armstrong” by Captain Samuel Reid from New York. The schooner became famous for fighting with several enemy ships in 1814, in the harbor of Faial Island (Azores). These waters belonged to Portugal, but this did not stop the British. They attacked the marque. The American sailors repulsed several attempts of boarding, and then sank the ship and landed on the neutral shore.

However, in general, the British had superiority at sea. They blocked the coast of the United States. Landing troops from the squadron of Rear Admiral Kokburn made raids along the coast, freed slaves. They were enrolled in the fleet or army (there was no slavery in England anymore), they were resettled to Canada and were not given war after the war ended, although the American slave owners demanded it. In July, the British 1813 almost did not take Washington for the first time, prevented by shallow water.

In the 1813 campaign of the year, the Americans again attempted to invade Canada, collecting 40-thousand. the army. The British command still did not fuss and strengthened the grouping in Canada only by insignificant forces from the West Indies (but not from Spain, where there was a war with the French). However, on January 22, the vanguard of this army was utterly defeated under Frenchtown. About 1 thousand people died or surrendered. Only the 33 fighter came back. The decisive role in this matter, as in a number of others, was played by the Indians. In April, an American detachment under the command of General Henry Dearborn took the city of York (now Toronto), the main city of Upper Canada. A small garrison of British troops, Canadian militia and Indians could not withstand the attack of superior forces. Americans looted and burned the city.

In May and in the summer of 1813, US forces launched an offensive on the border Niagara Peninsula in Upper Canada. In the first line of defense there was also a fort of St. George with a garrison around 1,3 thousand soldiers (49 th Infantry Regiment) and the police at 5 field guns. The garrison was led by General John Vincent. Thousands of soldiers supported by a river flotilla (4 schooners with 5-12 heavy guns, two corvettes) and guns of Fort Niagara went to storm the fort. 1 May British soldiers and Canadian militia repelled several attacks by the Americans. However, the defenders suffered heavy losses from naval artillery fire, and the garrison was under threat of complete encirclement. Due to the overwhelming superiority of the enemy, General Vincent led the troops.

But in the future, British troops were able to prevent the invasion of the enemy deep into Canada through Niagara. On the night of June 6, 1813, the British attacked American positions at Stony Creek, where 3,5 was held by thousands of soldiers under the command of brigadier generals William Winder and Chandler, who had a battery of field guns. Allied Iroquois removed the American sentinel. However, the attack almost broke the victory cry of one of the officers accompanying Vincent (the officer shouted out of negligence or because of nervous tension). Creek was perceived by British soldiers as a signal to attack. Part of the American forces managed to take up positions, and the attack of a small detachment could have ended in failure. The situation was saved by Major Charles Plenderlis, who captured the American battery. Panic and confusion began in the US military. Both American generals were taken prisoner. American troops retreated.

June 24 Americans suffered another defeat. A detachment of 570 people was sent to attack the outposts of Vincent. However, the Americans were ambushed by the British and their allied Indians. Soon they were forced to capitulate - more than 400 people were captured. Thus, the small forces of Vincent eliminated the threat of an immediate American invasion into Canada through the Niagara. In the future, everything was reduced to small skirmishes. At the end of the year, in December, the British seized Fort Niagara, opening their way to the United States.

Americans won the biggest victory on the water this year. 10 September 1813, the American river flotilla defeated the enemy on Lake Erie. This battle glorified the frigate "Constitution" under the command of Captain Oliver Perry. After the victory over the British ship “Geryer”, the American frigate received the honorary nickname “Iron Old”, as the enemy cores rebounded from the skin of the ship made of boggy virgin oak.

"Constitution" leads the battle with "Gerrier"

The second stage of the war. The 1814 campaign of the year nearly led the United States to defeat. Having dealt with Napoleon in Europe, the British decided to put an end to the annoying Yankees and transferred additional forces to America. In particular, a team of Robert Ross was dispatched to 3,4 thousand. The Ross Brigade joined the English fleet in Bermuda under the leadership of Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane (Cochran). They were given the task of conducting a distracting and punitive (revenge for the burning of York) operation on the east coast. It must be said that Ross was a courageous and experienced commander who fought with the French from the 1799 year.

18 August 1814, British troops landed in Maryland and began advancing inland. On August 24, during the battle of Bladensburg (six miles from Washington), the British defeated the superior enemy forces under Weinder. The Americans fled, and the British calmly occupied Washington. The commander in chief of the American army, President Madison, also fled the capital. At the time of entry into the city under truce in the direction of the British commander and his escort, several shots were fired. Ross was nearly killed, several soldiers were wounded. The British responded by burning the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, the ministerial offices, the shipyard, the barracks and the arsenal. They burned down all state and public buildings, but spared private houses. Huge war booty and more 200 guns were captured. During the same raid, the British destroyed the American river flotilla - 17 gunboats.

Capitol in 1814 year after the attack of the British on Washington

Ross’s brigade didn’t linger in Washington and on August 30 plunged into ships. September 11 Ross Brigade landed at Baltimore. It is possible that another big victory would put the United States on the brink of surrender. Fortunately, the blockade has already made the United States bankrupt. However, 12 September Ross was killed under mysterious circumstances. On the approaches to Baltimore at Fort McHenry on September 13-14, the British met with serious resistance. The siege of Baltimore has failed. Other British attacks (attack on New York) also ended in failure.

Washington Conqueror Herbert Ross

In January 1815, the last significant battle took place. The attack on New Orleans, with the goal of blocking the Mississippi River basin, led by General Pakengem, failed. 8-thousand British assault force 5-thousand was defeated. American troops under the command of Andrew Jackson (the future president of the United States). According to the official version, the British suicide climbed into a frontal attack and were literally shot by the Americans. The British lost about 2 thousand people (according to other 386 data), the Americans - 55 people (according to other data, more similar to the truth, about 300, including three generals). Jackson became the hero of the nation. The war ended there.

Battle of New Orleans


Peace negotiations began in June 1814. 24 December 1814 was signed by the Treaty of Gents, which restored the pre-war status quo, without solving the territorial and economic problems, the issue of compensation for damage. In fact, the fighting continued until February of the 1815 year, as news from Europe to America proceeded slowly.

The Americans lost in the war more than 21 thousand people (most died from disease), the British - more than 8 thousand people. The war cost the US treasury 105 million dollars (a huge amount at the time). The national debt of the United States increased from 45 million in the 1812 year to 127 million in the 1815 year.

For the vast British Empire, this war was a small border conflict, the British did not attach much importance to the events in Canada. Americans put in place, retained possession.

Canada captured the American "hawks" did not work. However, they still used this essentially disastrous campaign for propaganda. The peace treaty was perceived in the United States, especially in the light of the victory under New Orleans, which was diligently inflated (it did not matter much and was won after the end of the war) as a victory over the powerful British Empire. This triggered a nationalist frenzy and spawned the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 (America for Americans). The Yankees began to see America as their patrimony, where there is no place for Europeans. The war showed the American leadership the importance of naval forces in the modern war. The development of the navy has been adjusted.

At the same time, the Americans continued their expansion in North America. In 1818, American troops under the command of General Andrew Jackson invaded West Florida, suppressing the courageous resistance of the Seminoles. In 1819, the Americans managed to conclude a transcontinental agreement with Spain, gaining control of all of Florida. Proud and numerous people Seminole was doomed to the death of the best sons, degradation and misery. Spain also renounced claims to Oregon. Taking into account the 42 parallel of the northwestern territories located above - according to the agreement of 1818, this area was jointly owned by the Americans and the British, it can be said that the young American republic, stretching from sea to sea, was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The planet received a new predator, which began to claim dominance in the Western Hemisphere.

In domestic politics, the war ended with the complete victory of the Democratic-Republican Party over the federalists. The federalists suffered heavy financial losses due to the suspension of trade and moral damage from accusations of disloyalty and treason. They finally undermined their authority convention in Hartford in December 1814. The federalists harshly criticized government policies and demanded additional constitutional amendments to protect the interests of New England. However, the moment was chosen poorly. Anti-war speeches have lost all relevance due to news about the victory at New Orleans and the news of the "victorious" world in Ghent. As a result, it came to the point that in the 1820 year, the federalists could not even stand for their candidate at the presidential election. In fact, a one-party dictatorship has been established in the United States.

Republicans, defeating rivals, went on their own path, began to increase the powers of the center. They learned the lessons of the war well. They restored the license of the National Bank of the United States, triple the size of the army in peacetime, and also introduced protectionist tariffs (for the first time in the history of the republic), providing support to a developing industry. They also began to develop a unified transport system, having the opportunity to quickly deploy troops, cargo and civilians. As a result, the Republicans "outdid the federalists themselves in federalism."

Seriously injured American Indians. Britain finally put up with the independence of the former colony, focusing on other matters. The United States could engage in the colonization of new lands in full force. Indian tribes could no longer maneuver between the two centers of power, choosing the "lesser evil." The Indians lost the material and military support of the British. France and Spain also lost their positions on the continent. The Americans started mass ethnic cleansing and deportation of Indian tribes in the so-called. Indian territory (now Oklahoma) in the western United States.


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  1. Prometey
    Prometey 14 October 2014 09: 28
    Village showdown.
  2. Vladimirets
    Vladimirets 14 October 2014 10: 21
    "But, if they did not stand on ceremony with the Indians, they used deception, soldered them, handed them unnecessary trinkets, bribed the leaders, pitted various tribes against each other, did not hesitate to use brute force if the natives resisted"

    Nothing has changed in the world since then. recourse
    1. La-5
      La-5 14 October 2014 10: 58
      The art of war is based on lies and deceit.
      1. Vladimirets
        Vladimirets 14 October 2014 11: 25
        Quote: La-5
        The art of war is based on lies and deceit.

        Quote: Vladimirets

        The situation in Ukraine, as it is presented to the western layman, is Powell test tubes, Gaddafi.
        Quote: Vladimirets
        handed them unnecessary trinkets

        The whole world planted green wrappers.
        Quote: Vladimirets
        bribed the leaders

        Well, or intimidated, not the essence, Merkel’s actions are an example.
        Quote: Vladimirets
        pitted among themselves various tribes

        Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, etc.
        Quote: Vladimirets
        did not hesitate to use brute force if the natives resisted "

        Here, generally no explanation is needed.
        1. Kirill
          Kirill 15 October 2014 04: 27
          The role of the leader, Shawnee Tecumseh, who has learned from the British the rank of brigadier general, is not completely reflected. Without Tecumseh and his warriors (not just Shawnee), the Americans would have captured Canada. Not a word about the heroic death of Tecums, perhaps the most prominent leader of the Indians of North America. He planned to convene a tribal federation and stop the advancement of whites. He was in union with the British as the lesser of evils.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 14 October 2014 10: 24
    I remember my book was on this topic .. sorry in the paperback .. with pictures, with battle plans ..
  4. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 14 October 2014 11: 18
    A very interesting historical article. Thanks to the author!
  5. asadov
    asadov 14 October 2014 12: 20
    Yeah. The British did not keep track of their colonies in America. And so grew a very big jackal
    1. Trapperxnumx
      Trapperxnumx 14 October 2014 16: 49
      Quote: asadov
      Yeah. The British did not keep track of their colonies in America. And so grew a very big jackal

      This is not a jackal. This is a big and evil clone of the same British.
      1. Verden
        Verden 14 October 2014 18: 25
        "Don't raise a demon you can't handle."
        1. Prager
          Prager 1 November 2014 16: 29
          it can be said differently: "Do not be dashing while it is quiet."
    2. Vasek
      Vasek 14 October 2014 20: 14
      Quote: asadov
      Yeah. The British did not keep track of their colonies in America. And so grew a very big jackal

      In fact, without the participation of the Indians, the British would have received frank stars.
      Several times they smashed the amers from an ambush, and Tekumze was the national hero of that time.
      As a result, the Crown promised the Indians unprecedented privileges, autonomy for Six Nations, etc.
      But, as is customary among the Britons, "if you don't get it, you won't live." So they pinch their saviors to this day. Although, in general, the Indians in Canada live much better than in the United States.
    3. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 15 October 2014 09: 10
      The British did not keep track of their colonies in America.
      In this situation, Britain has become a hostage to its insular position. A well-developed fleet, but the army is so-so, by European standards. And when a colony of alien Europeans rebelled, they did not crush it as it should.
    4. Prager
      Prager 1 November 2014 16: 00
      not a jackal, but an evil disgusting hyena. am
  6. yegor_k
    yegor_k 14 October 2014 14: 37
    The article is good, if there were more cards, otherwise nothing can be seen ...
  7. Performance
    Performance 14 October 2014 15: 53
    Bribery and deception are the main striking forces of the American army.
    1. Prager
      Prager 1 November 2014 15: 58
      and also soldering the local indigenous population with alcohol. the surest guarantee of victory and new territorial acquisitions.
  8. VEKT
    VEKT 14 October 2014 18: 35
    Interestingly, if Mexico were now militarized and set against the United States, they would have long been butted.
  9. Lenivets
    Lenivets 15 October 2014 01: 42
    Judging by the policy pursued by Canada in the past 150 years, the United States has completely completed this task (the capture of Canada).
  10. Prager
    Prager 1 November 2014 15: 57
    I don’t see much difference between states and Canada. the second is the eternal shadow of the first.
  11. Serge79
    Serge79 6 June 2018 05: 52
    Yes, notably the British received, and in two wars from the newly emerging state. Just why about British losses is not indicated. However, it is clear why.
  12. The comment was deleted.