A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 12: “The Second War for Independence and the Upsurge of
~ 1815 – 1824 ~
On to Canada over Land and Lakes
Due to widespread disunity, the
War of 1812
ranks as one of America’s worst fought wars.
There was not burning national anger, like there was after the
outrage; the regular
army was very bad and scattered and had old, senile generals, and the offensive strategy
against Canada was especially poorly conceived.
Had the Americans captured Montreal, everything west would have wilted like a tree after
its trunk has been severed, but the Americans instead focused a three-pronged attack that
set out from Detroit, Niagara, and Lake Champlain, all of which were beaten back.
In contrast, the British and Canadians displayed enthusiasm early on in the war and
captured the American fort of Michilimackinac, which commanded the upper Great Lakes
area (the battle was led by British General
After more land invasions were hurled back in 1813, the Americans, led by
, built a fleet of green-timbered ships manned by inexperienced men, but still managed
to capture a British fleet; his victory, coupled with
General William H. Harrison
’s defeat of
the British during the
Battle of the Thames
, helped bring more enthusiasm and increased
morale for the war.
In 1814, 10,000 British troops prepared for a crushing blow to the Americans along the Lake
Champlain route, but on September 11, 1814,
challenged the British
and snatched victory from the fangs of defeat and forced the British to retreat.
Washington Burned and New Orleans Defended.
In August 1814, British troops landed in the Chesapeake Bay area, dispersed 6000 panicked
Americans at Bladensburg, and proceeded to enter Washington D.C. and burn most of the
At Baltimore, another British fleet arrived but was beaten back by the privateer defenders of
Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Another British army menaced the entire Mississippi Valley and threatened New Orleans, and
Andrew Jackson, fresh off his slaughter of the Creek Indians, led a hodgepodge force of 7000
sailors, regulars, pirates, and Frenchmen, entrenching them and helping them defeat 8000
overconfident British that had launched a frontal attack.
The news of this British defeat reached Washington early in February 1815, and two weeks
later came news of peace from Britain.
Ignorant citizens simply assumed that the British, having been beaten by Jackson, finally
wanted peace, lest they get beaten again by the “awesome” Americans.