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War of 1812

The War of 1812 (1812-1815) is one of the Americas' more unusual wars: It's called the War of 1812... but it lasted three years. The USA's casus belli for declaring war on Britain was the latter's conscription of US sailors to fight in the Napoleonic Wars... which she had basically stopped before the declaration of war finished crossing the Atlantic. And its most famous battle... was fought weeks after the ink on the peace treaty was dry. It's also one of the most popular wars to ever grace the Americas. US-of-Americans think they won it (which is understandable considering Britain was the first to say 'when'), the Canadians think they won it (again, understandable considering the ass the American-British militia kicked in the land war), and the British have no idea they fought in it (which has the appearance of carelessness, but then again they had that Frenchman to deal with at the same time). In the US it has been called the Second Revolutionary War, in Canada it is remembered as the war in which Canada stopped the US trying to annex them, and like we said, the British don't even know it happened.

In fact, nobody outside North America knows it happened. This is because an altogether more expensive, expansive, ideologically charged, bloody, and important series of wars had been going on elsewhere for some time. There were more troops (150 000) on the field when Emperor Napoleon I won at Austerlitz in 1805, for instance, than there were English-speaking soldiers (87 000) in all of the Americas in 1815. Napoleon's 1813 defeat by the Sixth Anti-Napoleonic Coalition at the three-day battle of Leipzig, the greatest gunpowder-battle ever (at the time), involved more than 600 000 soldiers with over 2000 artillery pieces; the one-day Battle of New Orleans, the largest battle of The War of 1812, involved just 15 000 men and 16 cannon. These great conflicts of the age (to European civilisation) were the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which basically concern the attempts of the Kingdom-turned-Republic-turned-Empire of France to alternately defend herself against and dominate all of Europe over two decades (1789-1815) of near-constant warfare. Indeed, the year 1812 itself is most strongly associated with Napoleon's catastrophically unsuccessful invasion of Russia, the decimation of his Grande Armée there (i.e. the decisive turning point in the war against him), and Tchaikovsky's famous overture (with the cannon fire at the end) commemorating Russia's part in these events.

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     The British Civil War Part 3: The Re-Liberationating 

The war was essentially an attempt by the USA (and more specifically, the 'War Hawks' of her inland states) to conquer British and Spanish North America (modern-day Canada and the present-day US state of 'Florida') and prevent the Amerindian tribes from forming a country (that could oppose westward expansion by the USA) while Great Britain was busy helping the very-nearly-conquered Kingdoms of Portugal and Spain fight 'The (Iberian) Peninsular War' against The Empire of France. However, they needed a casus belli for doing all this - if they started a war (of conquest) without one they could be accused of being an aggressive/expansionist country (not that that kind of thing really matters, e.g. Napoleon's annexation of The Low Countries and The Rhineland). Thankfully, the wider war played right into their hands in this respect as well. Traders in the US had become rich from war profiteering; basically, selling food and guns to both sides in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Both sides had declared an embargo upon each other, and commissioned privateers and used their navies to raid each others' shipping. However, after their sound victory at Trafalgar in 1805, the British were suddenly in a much better position to confiscate American trade bound for France — and they did just that. Moreover, the expansion of the Royal Navy left them short of sailors.

Scraping the bottom of the manpower-barrel after two decades of near-constant warfare, the Royal Navy stepped up the conscription of sailors into the navy in domestic ports and began to search US vessels they encountered for deserters — easily identifiable by their RN tattoos. Some ten thousand men were thus taken from American merchant vessels and pressed into RN service. note  The facts were, the Royal Navy had completely ignored the usual diplomatic channels and was basically ignoring the government of the United States, which they hadn't even asked for permission to do this. This is partly because The Admiralty could well be told to sod off if they did ask ('it's easier to say sorry than to ask, be denied, and do it anyway', etc., etc.), but also because as far as they were concerned all the people involved were all British nationals anyway and it didn't matter if they technically didn't answer to the same government note  - sort of like East and West Germany, or Germany and Austria. The USA's overall/central government also had real troubles being taken seriously abroad and particularly at home. Although the USA was by now officially a union of statesnote  most of its own citizens still thought of it as a union of states (i.e. not a country, but an association of independent countries akin to the present-day EU).

The traders and coastal states of the USA which actually owned and operated the ships in question had mixed feelings on the prospect of a war — on one hand, they were raking it in by selling to both France and the rest of Europe, and thus an end to war-trade was the last thing they wanted, although on the other hand the "theft" of their employees and the irksome nature of dealing with Britain's multiple "paper blockades" in the West Indies played havoc with their profit margins — and it was on those reasons and their platform of 'resisting British oppression' and 'ending the tyrannical impressment of foreign neutrals to fight their wars' that got the 'War-Hawks' into the elected positions. They were backed up by a new generation of young Americans who had not experienced the hardships of The American Revolution and the economic crisis that accompanied and followed it, and were eager to prove their (patriotic) worth and wage a Second American Revolution/War of Independence to drive the British from the continent. That thing with the USS Chesapeake and the HMS Leopard also didn't help paint a positive picture of the British.

Far to the south, in the Federal territory of Mississippi, the Indian tribes were uniting under a charismatic new leader; Tecumseh. Seeing this, the 'War-Hawk' generation suspected a British Conspiracy To Prevent American Westward Expansion, and clamoured for war with Great Britain. The British Cabinet viewed with favour the establishment of a neutral state of American Indian peoples in the Mississippi territory, but didn't actually have enough confidence in their fighting ability to back them (though they did sell them some weapons). The western states of the Union (in what we would now call the Midwest) would have nothing of Britain's "Conspiracy To Encircle Them With Colonies And Prevent America's Peaceful And Democratic Westward Settlement." The same states of the southern and western United States also considered capturing British North America easy pickings and the next logical step after the Revolutionary War. Many people in said states — not the ones actually affected by the disruptions to the thriving war-time trade — considered Canada an easy prospect, famously put by one official as "a simple matter of marching."

     The War on Land 

The war was fought on multiple fronts, most notably ground combat between infantry and ongoing naval confrontations within the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The British forces in North America were notably stressed, being undermanned and lacking much support from the main British Isles, which was still involved in the Napoleonic Wars. However, British General Isaac Brock and the Native leader, Tecumseh, proved capable leaders who arranged a powerful defence, even if they were lost all too soon. They also managed to bolster their ranks against the far more numerous Americans by recruiting former slaves, Loyalists from the Revolutionary War and befriending many Native peoples. The dangerously-overtaxed British Navy was forced to commit a full fifth of its shipsnote  to the Americas to defend British shipping and (successfully) blockade the USA's east coast. The Navy also conducted frequent raids on US naval bases and port-towns, one of the largest of which saw all the government buildings in Washington, DC burned down (including The White House).

The confrontation continued until late 1814 when spiralling military costs, fatigue, and general lack of enthusiasm for the stalemate-war caused the forces to enter peace talks. The Treaty of Ghent was the result, the agreement relegating all captured land back to whoever had originally owned it. The treaty was signed December 24, 1814 and took effect February 18, 1815, though the biggest battles of the war occurred during the peace talks and in the time it took for news about the treaty to filter down. Most notable of these was the Battle of New Orleans, a US victory which effectively secured the (gateway to the) Mississippi river system for them.

     The Naval War 

One notable exception to the general indifference towards the war in the US is in the US Navy, which sees the war as a defining moment in its history. That the brand new, tiny USN was able to stand up to the world's most powerful navy and win the majority of its engagements is a point of pride — armchair admirals still like to debate whether this has more to do with the more modern, sturdier build and heavier armament of the US navy's ships, or their habit of only engaging smaller flotillas or lone ships. However, both Alfred Thayer Mahan and President Theodore Roosevelt wrote books aimed specifically at debunking this deeply misleading view of the naval War of 1812, which has been propagated by the US Navy and its enthusiasts.

The point of naval forces is to transport and supply land forces, disrupt the transport and supply of enemy land forces, protect the economy by preventing blockades and intercepting enemy forces preying upon trade, and to disrupt the enemy's economy by imposing blockades and preying upon trade. The US's Navy did not even try to do any of these things, because it was too small and weak (albeit relative to the world's largest and best Navy) to do so.

Despite some minor tactical victories earlier in the war against the second-line forces of a severely overstretched British navy, the bulk of the war was a disaster for the US at sea; most of the US Navy spent most of the war bottled up in port, and the country's entire coastline was blockaded by a massively superior foe. The fact that there weren't many major American naval defeats in this period is a testament merely to the fact that the (bulk of the) US navy never left port (for fear of being annihilated). Indeed, the naval blockade was by all accounts devastating to the US's economy as even 'domestic' trade was badly affected - the US had no major waterways on the north-south axis and therefore was heavily reliant on sea-trade. While some fast-moving and crew-intense 'blockade-runner' ships did exist, they didn't have the numbers or cargo-capacity or profit-margins needed to maintain the pre-war level of domestic trade (which had used a large fleet of big, slow-moving ships with relatively small crews to maximise cargo and minimise wages).

     Glorious Victory! 

With the acceptance of the treaty, everything more or less returned to how it had been previous to the confrontation. Neither side retained any land it captured, bar the USA's annexation of Spanish Mobile/'Florida', and despite the damage done to the US economy the only party that suffered in the long-term was the Natives - who lost their bid for their own neutral state during peace talks. With the death of Tecumseh, and the mutual agreement of the US and British governments, there would not and could never be an Amerindian state that could prevent the ethnic cleansing and conquest of their lands by the US. Although the Amerindian population would continue to increase, US propaganda would increasingly portray them as a 'dying race' that was going extinct as a way of justifying the ongoing seizure of their lands and attempts to integrate them into US society that would eventually end with them all being 'second-class' US citizens with lesser rights than ethnic-Europeans under the law (until the 1960s, when they were granted equal rights).

Losses are estimated at 5000 deaths on the British side and 15,000 on the American side; though most Canadian militia and Native losses went unrecorded, fairly important when some of the most important battles of the war were fought by the Natives. It also doesn't take into account the large number of British sailors who defected or deserted. No compensation was paid by either side for damages though the British did pay $1,204,960 in damages to Washington to reimburse the slave-owners whose slaves defected to the British side or escaped in the confusion of the war.

Today the war is largely forgotten due to its lacklustre outcome; other than being the source of the US national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", the war is barely remembered there. In Canada, however, it was a defining event that fostered a quiet determination to remain British and distinct from the United States. After the creation of the Canadian nation, the outcome of the war became a point of national pride where the seeds of Canada's creation were planted. In Britain, of course, only historians remember it. That and people who watched Hornblower. As for the actual outcome of the war, the only clear losers were the Amerindians, whose last best attempt at uniting in the face of European Expansionism had failed. Their populations devastated and displaced by the US campaign, they were no longer able to form a serious check to the western expansion of the United States. The United States also secured New Orleans right at the last second — if the war had dragged on another few months and The Cabinet had deemed it worthwhile to take New Orleans back, the relatively small and over-stretched US Army would not have been able to defend the town. As it was, they were very fortunate to capture it when they did, as it meant that there would be no foreign checks to US expansion through central-northern America either.

Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe series, summed up the war very well: "What was to be expected in each theatre was inverted, with the exception of the major battles: The British inflicted a string of defeats on the numerically superior American Army, but lost the Battles of New Orleans and Plattsburgh. The US Navy inflicted a series of defeats on the far more powerful Royal Navy, but failed to prevent them raiding the Chesapeake and burning Washington."

A more comprehensive article and links to other related articles can be found on The Other Wiki.

Not to be confused with the other war of 1812.

Tropes involved in the War of 1812 include:

  • The Alcoholic: American Generals James Wilkinson and Wade Hampton were a laudanum addict and a drunk respectively. Their joint invasion of the Canadas ended very poorly, due to their mutual addictions and inability to cooperate.
  • The Alliance: The American invasion of the Canadas was opposed by a mix of British regulars, colonial militia, French-Canadian voltigeurs (elite militiamen drawn from hunters and trappers trained in native traditions), and native tribesmen from Tecumseh's Shawnee Confederacy, and the Grand River Iriquois tribes.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Even today, Canadians have a far dimmer view of James Madison, remembering him as the president who ordered the invasion of Canada, and the burning of York (modern Toronto) during the War of 1812. Indeed, when British troops later burned Washington DC, it was in direct retaliation for the burning of York.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Battlefield successes launched the presidential careers of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Jackson.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Used in several major battles.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Oliver Hazard Perry and General Zebulon Pike for the Americans, General Manley Power for the British.
  • Badass: General Isaac Brock on the British side and Andrew Jackson on the American side, as well as the Native leader Tecumseh.
  • Badass Army: The British regulars who frequently defeated American forces many times their own size during the early days of the war, and were man-for-man the best fighting force in North America. The American Army, for its part, began to approach this status in 1814, when, under the guidance of men like Brown, Scott, and Macomb, it started to give the British a run for their money.
  • Badass Boast: Oliver Hazard Perry after the Battle of Lake Erie:
    "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
  • Badass Crew:
    • The Indiana Rangers.
    • Joshua Barney's flotilla crew.
    • Andrew Jackson's militia and pirates in New Orleans.
    • The York Volunteers, in the opinion of Isaac Brock.
    • The voltigeurs under Colonel de Salaberry.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Isaac Brock and Tecumseh.
  • Battle Cry:
    • "Revenge the General", by Canadian forces lead by John Macdonell in the second charge at Queenston Heights, after the death of Isaac Brock.
    • Also, "Don't give up the ship," the dying words of James Lawrence and the motto on the battle flag of Oliver Hazard Perry.
  • Big Bad: Either Sir George Prevost (the Governor-General of British North America) or President James Madison, depending on which side of the war you were on.
  • BFB: When American forces landed on the north shore of Lake Ontario and advanced on the city of York, the seriously outnumbered British forces under General Roger Sheaffe retreated in response, but not before setting off the powder magazine at Fort York in the midst of the American column. The resulting explosion could be seen, heard and felt 100 kilometres away and wounded or killed 260 American troopsnote  (out of the force of 1600 to 1800) and was the largest man-made explosion on Canadian soil until the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
  • Bling of War: The USS Chesapeake and her three enormous banners. The British thought this was very silly:
    British Seaman: May we have three ensigns, sir, like she has?
    Captain Phillip Broke: No. We've always been an unassuming ship.
  • Boring, but Practical: Roger Hale Sheaffe, who succeeded Brock, lacked his predecessor's flash. However, his methodical war plans and attention to detail allowed him to defeat the Americans at Queenston Heights, where Brock had succeeded only in getting himself killed.
  • Brick Joke: Laura Secord and her husband, James Secord, heard of an impending American attack in 1813 due to the fact that they were forced to house and feed several American soldiers at their home in Queenston, Ontario. As a member of the Canadian militia, James was only at home because he was still recovering from wounds sustained during the Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812 (during which he had helped to carry recently-deceased General Isaac Brock's body away from the battlefield).
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: As you can see on this very page, it is by no doubt very important in Canadian history. Americans barely remember it happened, and mostly just remember it for being the second time they fought the British. Brits don't remember it at all. It just sort of slips down the back of the historical memory-couch to join the Anglo-Dutch and Carnatic Wars.
  • Canucks with Chinooks: While the actual defense of Canada (and raids on US, including the burning down of Washington DC) were actually conducted by British regulars with relatively little role played by the actual Canadian militia, Canadians have effectively adopted the British army in Canada during the war and claim their victories as their own, to the point of picking British General Isaac Brock as one of greatest Canadians in history (notwithstanding the fact that Brock really did not like being stationed in Canada). In addition, the role played by the Canadian militia has been greatly played up and this "militia myth," that the Canadian colonists were largely responsible for repelling the Yankee invaders, has been an important component of Canadian nationalism.
  • The Captain:
    • Stephen Decatur, Oliver Hazard Perry. Lesser-known but every bit as badass is Commodore Joshua Barney.
    • On the British side we have British Captain Sir James Lucas Yeo, who commanded the Lake Ontario squadron, and had a distinguished career of foreign service behind him.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Isaac Brock and Roger Hale Sheaffe were a variant on this, with Brock acting as A Father to His Men while Sheaffe played the tyrannical taskmaster.
  • Colonel Badass: Lt. Col. Charles de Salaberry, a Francophone officer in the Royal Army who, with volunteers from Quebec and native assistance halted the Americans' invasion of Quebec (then "Lower Canada") in November 1812. He later played an important role in several other major battles, including Crysler's Farm and Chateauguay. His actions at the latter prevented the fall of Montreal, and saved Upper Canada. At one point his force of just over 400 men turned back 4500 men under General Wilkinson.
  • Cool Ship:
    • The US Navy's secret weapon was a line of powerful frigates crewed by well trained sailors, particularly the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"). It only won a few victories, but arguably the war was really about prestige after all.
      • The Constitution and her sister ships outmatched any other ship in their type, being more heavily armed, faster, and better designed, despite being fifteen to twenty years old during the war, to the point that the British Admiralty issued orders forbidding one on one fights between British 38 gun frigates and the American 44's.
      • Of course, part of the reason the Royal Navy failed to field any equivalent heavy frigates was that they served no purpose in the Royal Navy's battle doctrine. Such ships were considered too big and expensive to serve as patrol ships as their frigates did, and would be badly outmatched in any battle against a Ship of the Line (compare to the 20th century Battlecruisers and Large Cruisers, which similarly failed to catch on). It just so happened that much of the naval combat in this conflict played to the advantages of the US Navy, what with the bulk of the Royal Navy's ships of the line being focused on other, larger conflicts. Not to mention the fact that the Royal Navy's blockade of the US coastline precluded any naval combat at all for much of the war.
    • HMS St. Lawrence was the first and only Royal Navy ship-of-the-line (a 112-gun first-rater, no less) ever to be built and operated in freshwater. She never saw battle after being launched in 1814, but her mere presence was enough to keep the US Navy off of Lake Ontario entirely while they scrambled to build an equal or better vessel in response.
  • Combat by Champion: USS Chesapeake versus HMS Shannon. The two captains agreed to battle, apparently because they were bored at the time (well it's probably more complex, but that'll do). The Shannon won in a short but unusually bloody battle. It's not clear what purpose it served but from a distance in time it does seem really cool.
    • It served to boost the morale of the British and damage that of the Americans, which was the reason Captain Broke fought it in the first place. The Chesapeake had been in port, whilst Shannon had using captured powder and shot to train its crew to a ridiculously high standard of naval gunnery. One Batman Gambit later, and the Chesapeake sailed out to fight a battle it could not possibly win.
      • It's been generally agree that there was no Batman Gambit involved. Captain Brokes official written challenge (which Captain Lawrence did not recieve in time) was very open and stated Broke's intentions and motives as well as the Shannon's exact arms load out plus her crew complement. The capabilities of the crew was omitted, but it was not something a modest ship captain would boast about anyway, and both captains would have assume their opponent was well trained by default. While both an over-indulgence in gallantry (Lawrence chose to forgo an advantageous positioning at the opening of the battle that could well have earned him victory) and lucky shots to Chesapeake's rigging from the Shannon ultimately decided the battle, Captain Lawrence was confident of victory since the Chasapeake did hold several advantages over the Shannon, namely, his ship was fresh from refit and had a well rested crew as opposed to the Shannon which had been worn down by months at sea and was at the limit of her endurence.
    • It's worth noting that the Royal Navy was vastly relieved to finally win a ship-on-ship battle and Broke was heavily decorated (he was pushed higher in the peerage than Nelson was for winning the battle of the Nile). Broke also pretty much immediately retired (for a nasty injury he incurred during the boarding action involving a cutlass and his skull).
  • Command And Conquer Economy: In a rare Real Life example, both sides at the Battles of Lake Erie built the majority of their ships right at bases constructed for the purpose on the lake shore using wood harvested from the surrounding forests and then proceeded to fight over the lake.
    • Justified in that the lack of proper passages through the St. Lawrence River prevented large ships from sailing into the lake from the ocean. This also occurred in Lake Huron to a lesser extent and for the same reasons.
  • Common Knowledge:
  • Cool Versus Awesome : A rare David Versus Goliath example; the US Navy and the Royal Navy were two of the best at the time.
    • The US Navy had far higher pay then the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy was worn out by a Forever War. After the original shock of some engagements British captains who had been lax on training began working thus giving them a chance to retake a level in badass.note 
      • More to the point: Sailors on American vessels were better paid and, more importantly, better treated - not least due to the US Navy's far smaller size, even relative to the country's population, making 'press gangs' and 'shanghai-ing' unnecessary. This is precisely the reason sailors jumping ship was such a severe problem for the Royal Navy, and why so many joined American ships when they deserted in the first place.
      • The British navy had been on near-constant total war footing for over 20 Years at the time this war started. Treating your sailors decently and recruiting volunteers is well and good when you only have a dozen frigates to crew. The British had over a hundred ships of the line and hundreds of frigates and smaller vessels (the Royal Navy at one point had over 900 vessels) running in bases literally all over the world, the British had to find over 100,000 crewmen out of a population of roughly 10 million and most of them had to be highly skilled.
  • Courtroom Antics: Prize Law was an innate part of the laws and customs of war at the time. One American privateer was able to sue for the ransom of one capture in a British court. And was granted his suit. This no doubt proves that lawyers are Pirates.
  • Crowning Moment Of Awesome:
    • The entire war is played up as this in Canadian history, in contrast to the way no one else even remembers it (see Crowning Moment Of Indifference below).
    • The siege of Detroit included Tecumseh having his men repeatedly circle the fort, tricking the Americans into thinking that the Native numbers were much greater than they were. Detroit's surrender gave the Natives and British a tremendous amount of supplies, along with a major psychological victory.
    • More humorously, the British torched Washington, while the Americans burned down York, later to be known as Toronto. Given the loathing Americans and Canadians have for their respective cities, a Deadpan Snarker could claim that the War of 1812 is one where both sides did the other a favor.
    • The defense of Fort McHenry stemmed the Royal Navy's raid on the Eastern seaboard. After being turned back the fleet sailed to New Orleans ... where Andrew Jackson, four thousand troops, and some badass pirates made excellent use of trenches and a swamp to hold back a force of 11 000 Royal Marines, who decided that the casualties required to take the place weren't worth the trouble and left.
    • Battle of Lake Erie.
    "Dear General: We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop. Yours with great respect and esteem, O.H. Perry"
    • Also: After the Lawrence, Perry's flagship, had been beaten into submission with 4 out of every 5 men killed or wounded, Oliver Hazard Perry took down his battle flag, rowed through a hail of cannon fire, reached the Niagara, and steered it through the British line, decimating their fleet in 15 minutes.
    • While the British were approaching Washington, Dolly Madison stayed in the White House until the very last minute, rescuing valuable items including a famous painting of George Washington.
    • The Battle of Plattsburgh. Master Commandant Thomas MacDonough's fleet, equipped with spring lines which allowed his ships to turn while anchored, allowing faster firing and reloading of the cannons, successfully drove the Royal Navy off of Lake Champlain and forced them to retreat back into Canada.
    • The Battle of Stoney Creek was a desperate last stand in the eastern part of what is now Hamilton, Ontario. It was the farthest into Canada the American troops had come, and the British general was so convinced it was hopeless that he sent any men who could go home away. With half as many forces remaining, poised to retreat to Burlington Heights and then to Fort York, the British and Native troops suddenly turned around and swarmed the American encampment in the middle of the night. The two generals in command of the American force were captured when they blundered into groups of British soldiers. During the subsequent American retreat, the new commanding officer was so freaked out by the Native militia that was hounding them from the forest that he ordered a retreat all the way back to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake (a two-hour drive by highway now, a couple of days walk then).
      • Going slightly meta, this battle later became the first, and now the largest, War of 1812 re-enactment in Canada.
  • Crowning Moment Of Indifference: The British were preoccupied with blockading Europe and launching raids on French ports and naval works, as well as some major campaigns like the (Iberian) Peninsular Campaign and the 1815 Allied invasion of France. Westminster sent only a very small force of regulars to defend British America, relying mostly on local militia, Amerindian allies, and American stupidity to hold the line. Upon the defeat of Napoleon by the Sixth Coalition in 1813, they reassigned a portion of their regular forces to America, to help bring about a quicker end to the war. The United States meanwhile was largely indifferent to the war with New England threatening to separate because they didn't want the war in the first place. Today, barely anyone in the United States even remembers it, although it tends to be a point of pride for many Canadians, even if the country didn't technically exist yet.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Subverted. The war was supposed to be this in the favour of the Americans, but the British scrounged up several unexpected allies (mostly natives) and employed unconventional tactics, holding off the American invasion.
    • Subverted again after the defeat of Napoleon. With British forces now freed up from fighting in Europe things looked grim for the Americans. Three major raiding-campaigns were launched in the space of a year but all were turned back.
    • Played straight in the Battle of New Orleans (which actually happened after the war technically ended). 55 Americans died, 185 were wounded, and 93 were missing, with a grand total of 333 casualties and losses at the end of the battle. On the other side, 386 British died, 1,521 were wounded, and 552 were missing, with a grand total of 2,459 casualties and losses. The reason for the high casualties is because Andrew Jackson put his army in a position that made all of his flanks covered by swamps, thus forcing the British to attack head on, because they couldn't wade through the swamps. Pakenham forgetting to give the marines siege equipment may also have had something to do with it. American morale soared after the battle, and was even made the subject of a popular American song called ''The Battle of New Orleans''.
    • To make up for New Orleans, the Brits had the Battle of Frenchtown. The British had 25 dead and 161 wounded, plus 3 dead native allies, whereas the Americans had 410 dead, 87 wounded and 547 captured. Unfortunately, 30 to 100 of the wounded American prisoners were executed by the Native forces allied with the British.
    • This was actually a theme in the earlier days of the war. The British were had an experienced army, with experienced generals, and miliamen and native allies fighting for their homes, whereas the Americans' invasion forces were untrained volunteers with guerilla ex-revolutionaries as generals (until those were mostly shot and then replaced with competent men who whipped their troops into shape). So despite the Americans having a huge numbers advantage, they tended to lose dramatically more men in any given battle, even the ones they won.
  • David Versus Goliath: A complicated example at sea. In the over all picture the US Navy and Army was the David but it was often the Goliath in a given engagement. This is actually fairly common in warfare but worth remarking on.
    • Advancements in ship-building by the Yanks allowed the U.S. Navy to float fewer but vastly more powerful ships than the British. While the British were able to adapt new tactics and develop improved ships as the war progressed, the early victories by the U.S. enhanced their navy's reputation to Worthy Opponent status.
      • The Americans had more powerful frigates than the British. Two or three British ships of the line still could have curbstomped several American ships in a straight fight. It should also be noted that the British did have frigates powerful enough to take on the American heavy frigates (many of them French captures), but those frigates were all deployed in Europe to fight Napoleon so in the early days when most American victories took place, it was against second-or-third-line British frigates.
      • The American war doctrine of the time was centered around coastal fortifications and a navy generally lacking the capability to wage large wars abroad (in line with the general policy of not getting involved in foreign wars). As a result, there were no American ships of the line, a handful of relatively powerful frigates, and a large force of gunboats intended to work in cooperation with the coastal fortifications (which, in the timeless fashion of government procurement, were never completed anyways). Many of the less-famous naval battles involved British warships sinking or chasing off American gunboats.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One British officer leading a raiding party captured two militiamen. When they said they were just out to shoot squirrels he asked if their bayonets were for charging the squirrels.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Mutually, and how. Remember the Battle of Plattsburgh? Stand by the side of the road on Upper Cornelia Street (where the big-box stores are) in that city on a summer Saturday and count the Quebec and Ontario license plates...
  • Deus ex Machina: As British troops were burning Washington DC, a goddamn tornado touched down in the city, for the first time in known history, causing a Mass "Oh, Crap!" amongst the occupying British forces. The wind was so strong that it lifted cannons into the air.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Tens of thousands of slaves used the opportunities the war provided them to escape from their owners, often incurring great risks and hardship. This put a dent into the then still widespread belief that slaves were generally content with their lot.
    • And then there was the fact that the Canadians fought back, and effectively at that. Many Americans were stunned.note 
  • Dirty Coward:
    • To some extent, American General William Hull, who surrendered Detroit due to a deathly fear of Natives which Isaac Brock exploited ruthlessly. Though in fairness, he was a man lacking in military experience who thought the Natives would torture the civilians, including his wife and children. See General Failure below.
    • Militia were also mocked by regular soldiers during the war on the American side. They were only distinguished from real soldiers by the speed with which they fled the battlefield.
  • Divided States of America: New England threatened to secede from the Union over the issue of the war due to how it was wrecking their economy. The War Hawks 'thought' Britain was trying to carve out an Indian nation in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to serve as a buffer between the US and Canada, but they were just being kind of paranoid.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Winfield Scott was hated by his men for his obsession with drill and order of battle. However, it was that same obsession that allowed him to turn American militiamen into soldiers capable of standing up to British regulars. On the British side, Roger Hale Sheaffe was almost pathological about drill and order, fining men for the slightest violations of the dress code, and flogging anybody who treated their task with anything less than the utmost seriousness. At one point Brock had to save Sheaffe from a revolt amongst his own officers.
  • The Empire: In America, the war is remembered as a fight against the British Empire. In Canada, it is remembered as a war against an Imperialist United States.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Don't give up the ship!" Captain James Lawrence's dying words, shortly before the USS Chesapeake was taken by a boarding party from HMS Shannon. His good friend, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, later named his flagship USS Lawrence, put the phrase on his battle flag, and used it as his Battle Cry at the Battle of Lake Erie. He won the battle.
    • The last words of General Brock, killed by a sharpshooter during the Battle of Queenston Heights, was said to be either "Push on brave York volunteers!" or "Push on, don't mind me." "Push on" is now used as the motto of Brock University in Niagara Falls, Canada.
  • A Father to His Men: Isaac Brock, Andrew Jackson, Techumseh and many others on both sides.
    • Special mention ought to go to Captain Broke of the HMS Shannon during the action against the USS Chesapeake: when the combination of fortuitous wind and damaged rigging resulted in the latter ramming and pinning the former stern first, Broke unsheathed his Scottish Broadsword, called for any man brave enough to follow him, and was the first man to board the American ship, arguably one of the most dangerous positions to be in during such an action.
  • Foil: In an odd Real Life example, Isaac Brock and Roger Hale Sheaffe were this to one another. Brock was outgoing and friendly, A Father to His Men, had a good relationship with the press, and was known for his Hot Bloodedness and need to lead from the front. Sheaffe was cold and bitter, with a streak of the drill sergeant, a penchant for leading from the rear, a 0% Approval Rating with the press, and a strategist's eye for the big picture. Despite this they got along well together and made an effective team, with Brock saving Sheaffe's career after a revolt among his officers, and Sheaffe avenging Brock at Queenston Heights.
  • Four-Star Badass: Isaac Brock was one, leading his men from the front. Depending on who you ask, Gordon Drummond, whose claim to be "The Saviour of Canada" is at least as strong as Brock's might qualify, facing off against the best officers the US had to offer (see below) and blunting their invasion of Canada. William Henry Harrison's men saw him as one as well.
    • While the Americans started the war seriously lacking in leadership, this situation did not last. By 1814, their forces were commanded by Jacob Brown, Alexander Macomb, and Winfield Scott, all of whom were brave, capable men, and who would go onto have distinguished careers in the American Army, all three eventually serving as Commanding General of the Armies of the United States.
  • General Failure: Given that most of Britain's better officers were in service in Europe, and that American Army was both in its infancy and filled with political appointees and militia generals, this is to be expected. Some notable examples include:
    • General William Hull. The Governor of Michigan, Hull marched his army a few kilometres into Upper Canada, panicked when he encountered actual resistance, and ended up surrendering Fort Detroit to a force that was several times smaller than his own. His own men were contemplating a coup d'etat against him by the end. Hull was court-martialed and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad for his actions at Detroit, but was pardoned by James Madison. Hull's superior officer, Henry Dearborn, was no better, not having seen combat since the days of the Revolutionary War.
    • Downplayed in the case of Stephen Van Rennselaer, who led the Americans to defeat at Queenston Heights. While Rennselaer was a political appointee (one of his enemies gave him the job in the hopes that he would embarrass himself) and had no combat experience, he was aware of the fact and tried to compensate for it by bringing in his experienced cousin, Solomon Van Rennselaer to act as his aide. Unfortunately Solomon was wounded during the first few minutes of the battle at Queenston, and Van Rennselaer's supposed right-hand man, Alexander Smyth, refused to cooperate with him, ruining their plans; Van Rennselaer resigned afterwards. Smyth himself was a classic example; in Winfield Scott's words Smyth "showed no talent for command and made himself ridiculous on the Niagara frontier."
    • Generals James Wilkinson and Wade Hampton were even worse. Wilkinson was a laudanum addict and traitor (seriously, he was a spy for Spain), and Hampton a drunk. They hated each other, and were jointly assigned to lead the 1813 invasion of Canada over the protestations of actual competent soldier Winfield Scott. They spent the entire time feuding with each other, and were at one point, defeated by a force that was a tenth the size of their own.
    • General William H. Winder who was supposed to defend Washington, but could not control his men at all, may have been the best example of this trope. He squandered any numerical advantage he might have had, allowing the capture and burning of the American capital. In contrast, Samuel Smith, the commander of the militia at Baltimore managed to throw back the same British invasion force.
    • On the British side there was naval officer Commander Popham who, having been explicitly instructed by Captain Yeo to not sail up a creek, proceeded to sail directly up that creek, stranding his ship and enabling a significant American naval victory.
  • The Generalissimo: Lieutenant-General Prevost was both Commander-in-Chief and Governor-General of British North America, making him in effect, a military dictator, albeit one whose powers were limited by London. On a smaller scale, Major-General Brock was both the military commander in Upper Canada, Lieutenant-Governor of Uppper Canada, and the head of the provincial legislature, whom he regularly worked around, eventually declaring martial law. His successors, Roger Hale Sheaffe, Francis De Rottenburg, and Gordon Drummond would have similar powers.
  • Graceful Loser: Always the case with surrenders, to the point that Isaac Brock's motif was tricking major American fortifications into surrendering. Averted by General Hull who upon surrendering spent most of his time accusing his subordinates of letting him down.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The British forces were bolstered with local militia, escaped Loyalists, former slaves and Native Peoples. Similarly, the American defenders at New Orleans included Kentucky frontiersmen, Creole aristocrats, free men of color, and frickin' pirates fighting for their new nation.
  • Guile Hero: Brock and Tecumseh's early victories over the numerically superior Americans relied entirely on bluff and deception, with the battle for Fort Detroit being the most glaring example.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Isaac Brock's charge at Queenston Heights. His death was a direct result of the fact that he always led his men into combat.
    • Brock's aide, John Macdonell, promptly followed him after another failed charge up Queenston Heights. Roger Sheaffe, who subsequently arrived from Fort George with reinforcements, took note of this and used a circuitous but better-covered route to set up his own successful assault, ending the battle.
    • Similarly, Tecumseh's death in the Battle of the Thames resulted from fighting alongside his followers.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Although Isaac Brock didn't think much of the Canadian colonists as militia, Canadians largely don't care and have adopted him with Tecumseh as the "Saviors of Canada" and among its greatest military heroes. In reality Brock was no genius—he was a solid, capable officer who was confronted by thoroughly incompetent opponents during the early part of the war. Other officers, like Roger Hale Sheaffe and Gordon Drummond could make equally good claims on being "The Saviour of Canada", but since Brock died in action, he became the hero of the piece.
    • There is also the "militia myth". Basically, no, Canadian militia didn't beat back the invasion of British North America; they helped certainly, but were usually too busy farming to do much fighting, where the heavy lifting was done by a combination of British regulars and native allies.
    • A partially hilarious example is that of Laura Secord. Yes, she did warn the British of an impending American attack, but modern depictions of her paint her as a crusading hero or master spy, when in reality she was basically a housewife who chanced upon overhearing some valuable military intelligence and made a dangerous trek to alert British forces.
      • She is, not unreasonably, considered the Canadian equivalent of Paul Revere.
    • Canadians tend to boast that they were the ones who burned down Washington DC, when in reality the soldiers that sacked the city were Napoleonic War veterans shipped in from Spain and France.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Sir George Prevost is on the recieving end of this in many older Canadian histories for having dared to disagree with the sainted Brock. While Prevost was overly cautious, and did bungle the Plattsburgh offensive badly, he was also a competent war leader whose overall grasp of strategy and ability to reconcile the French and English speaking parts of the colonies played a major role in British success. William Hull sometimes recieves one in American takes on the war; while it is true that he was a General Failure extraodrinaire, not all of the problems in his infant army could be justly blamed on him.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Rivalries and miscommunications between the US Navy and the US Army led to a number of missed opportunities, especially in 1814, when Commodore Chauncey refused to support Jacob Brown's invasion of Upper Canada. On the British side, disagreements over who was subordinate to whom, and whether Captain Yeo was required to answer to the commanders in Upper Canada or even to Sir George Prevost caused considerable friction and similar missed opportunities. Averted in Bermuda, where excellent cooperation between Admirals Cochrane & Cockburn, and General Ross enabled the burning of Washington and the attack on Baltimore.
  • Instant Death Bullet: The means of General Isaac Brock's demise in the Battle of Queenston Heights. Any accounts of Famous Last Words are almost certainly apocryphal, as he was shot in the chest (likely the heart) and died immediately.note 
  • Invaded States of America: The most successful real life example. In response to the Americans invading the British Empire's territory in North America and torching Toronto, the British launched their own raids on Maryland (resulting in the capture of Washington DC and torching of numerous federal-government buildings), New Orleans, and New York. All the raids were turned back in the battles of Plattsburgh, New Orleans, and Baltimore — in New Orleans' case, the battle technically occurred after the war was ended by the Treaty of Ghent.
    • Of course, this is only the most successful Real Life example if you don't count The American Revolution, which, before it eventually went bad for the British, included them capturing New York City and holding it for the entire war, conquering New Jersey, capturing Philadelphia, and conquering and pacifying Georgia.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Burning of York (today's Toronto) in 1813 by Americans, and the retaliatory Burning of Washington by British forces in 1814.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Part of British Major-General Roger Hale Sheaffe's motif, most notable at his retreat during the Battle of York. It never won him friends, but it did let him keep his army intact.
  • La Résistance: After the capture of Fort George on the Niagara River in May 1813 and the subsequent Battle of Stoney Creek, a force of fifty British soldiers under Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, along with hundreds of Native allies, carried out raids up and down the Niagara peninsula and kept thousands of American regulars and militia off balance and unwilling to advance. With prior warning of a coming American attack, courtesy of local resident Laura Secord (yes, that Laura Secord), FitzGibbon and his detachment were able to enlist the help of a large Caughnawaga and Mohawk force to trap and capture over 500 American soldiers in the Battle of Beaver Dams (now located near present-day Thorold, Ontario). The American forces eventually retreated to the eastern side of the Niagara River in December 1813.
  • Large and in Charge: Isaac Brock stood six-foot-three or four, Winfield Scott six-foot-five. Tall by modern standards, they would have been absolutely enormous at the time, and were heavily built men to boot, with Scott weighing in at 300 pounds.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: The death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames forever ended the dream of a united Indian confederacy.
  • Magnetic Hero: Isaac Brock again, who was responsible for swaying many of the Native Peoples to fight with the British. His ally Tecumseh was another example: he had built an entire Midwestern native confederacy, which collapsed in his absence.
  • The Men First: Isaac Brock, to the point of leading his charges against the enemy. It cost him his life.
  • Might Makes Right: In response to the horrendous performance the Royal Navy had given against the US Navy (almost a hundred ships in the Americas, including 17 Man-o-Wars verses a fleet of 14, where their most powerful ships were allegedly piddling frigates), the British newspaper Evening Star gave this urge to the Admiralty:
    "All the prating about maritime rights, with which the Americans have recently nauseated the ears of every cabinet minister in Europe, must be silenced by the strong and manly voice of reason [...] and must be beaten into submission!
  • Mildly Military: The U.S. and Canadian militia, neither of which had much in the way of a military tradition.
  • Modern Major General: It's been claimed that one of the reasons the Americans didn't conquer British North America was because a number of their generals were appointed more due to political reasons than actual military talent. Then again, that's how it worked just about more-or-less everywhere. An academy-trained officer corps selected on merit alone is a 20th-century ideal, one that has yet to be fulfilled in its entirety.
  • National Anthem:
    • "The Star-Spangled Banner" was famously inspired by the defense of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore.
    • On the Canadian side, the second verse of "The Maple Leaf Forever" references 1812 (particularly "Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane") in much the same way.
  • Naval Blockade: The British blockade of the American coast, possibly what gave them the idea to do the same during The American Civil War.
  • Not So Different: It's hard to tell, but it's doubtful the distinctive American twangs had caught on by this stage. When American prisoners of war were paraded around for the benefit of the (paying) public, the general reaction was disappointment. They all looked and sounded some sort of British, this being on account of the great majority of Americans being either emigrants or the descendants of emigrants from the Isles.
    • There was also little in the way of cultural differences between the two sides. There is a reason why one recent book on the subject is entitled The Civil War of 1812.
  • The Neidermeyer: Governor of British North America Sir George Prevost is often treated like this in the history books, though this is more due to his wanting to maintain a defensive stance, than any real inability on his part. Prevost had had a distinguished career in the British Army, pre-war, and did a solid job of holding the Canadas together during the war. He did, however, lead the British forces to defeat in the Battle of Plattsburgh, resulting in his disgrace after the war had concluded.
  • Odd Friendship: Brock and Sheaffe as noted under Foil.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Various examples on both sides. Brock, Sheaffe, Rottenburg, Drummond and Prevost are all good British examples. On the American side, Stephen Van Rennselaer (otherwise something of a General Failure) was congratulated on being one of these when he ordered his cannons to salute Brock's funeral.
    • A special mention goes to General Ross, who commanded the troops who burned down Washington. He was ruthless in his destruction of public property, as by the rites of war, it now belonged to him as the victor. However, he refused to condone the destruction of private property, and even American historians (the few that care to study the war, anyway) agree that during his short occupation of the city, he treated the populace well and ordered his men to do the same.
  • Oh Crap:
    • "Those are Regulars, by God!", British General Phineas Riall's (possibly apocryphal) reaction at the Battle of Chippewa to Winfield Scott's gray-coated brigade pressing forward through shot and shell. (Gray was the color of militia uniforms; there was no blue cloth available for uniform coats when Scott's brigade was outfitted. West Point cadets wear gray uniforms in memory of this incident.)
    • Mass "Oh, Crap!": On the part of the American residents and politicians in Washington, when they realized that their defenders had fled and there was nothing between the British forces and the capital.
    • A whole ship load of Oh Crap came from the crew of the HMS Guerriere, as they watched their cannon balls bounce off the side of the USS Constitution, prompting one of the American gunners to yell out "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!". Needless to say, the Constitution's next volley did not bounce off of the Guerriere. To sum it up in the British captain's own words:
    Captain Dacres: "Well, Sir, I don't know. Our mizzen mast is gone, our fore and main masts are gone — I think on the whole you might say we have struck our flag."
  • Peace Conference: The war's eventual resolution.
  • Pirates: Baltimore privateers were famous or infamous depending on which side you were on. Jean Lafitte was a more literal example in the Battle of New Orleans.
  • Pop Culture Osmosis: Many present-day US citizens think the 1812 Overture, published in 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, had something to do with this war ... even though the song is actually about the Battle of Borodino during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Much of the Canadian militia (but not the British regulars), and some of the American forces, specifically the Indiana Rangers.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: The wanted pirate Jean Lafitte earned a full pardon for the indispensable service his artillery provided at New Orleans.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Both Isaac Brock and his aide John Macdonell, who died during unsuccessful, hastily assembled charges during the battle for Queenston Heights. Later the reinforcements arrived, and under the command of Roger Hale Sheaffe undertook a meticulous and better planned advance that easily recaptured the Heights.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The whole war, which changed nothing, and ended in a peace treaty that basically involved re-establishing the status quo ante while both sides agreed to forget about the whole thing. The British had already agreed to stop impressing Americans into the British Navy before the war started, although the U.S. Congress didn't know that. The tensions between Britain and the United States caused by the British blockade of Napoleonic France became a moot point when Napoleon was defeated in 1814.
  • The Siege: The epic Siege of Fort Erie was the bloodiest battle ever fought on Canadian soil.
  • Similarly Named Wars: Napoleon's invasion of Russia is known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812.
  • Spin-Off: Spun off from the Napoleonic Wars and had its own spin-off in the form of the Red Stick Creek War.
  • The Strategist: Isaac Brock built up a reputation for this during the first few months of the war. As an example, he forced the surrender of a major fort by having his men march at twice the regular distance as standard, creating the illusion that there was twice as many soldiers. Similarly, in another battle he had his troops loop back while en route to an enemy fortification to give the impression of extra forces, forcing another surrender.
  • Tempting Fate: The moron responsible for the "mere matter of marching" quote.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The American army under Winfield Scott and Jacob Brown during the 1814 Niagara Campaign where they managed to inflict serious losses on the British defenders before being driven back.
  • Under Dogs Never Lose: The British Canadian forces inflicted greater casualties against a larger opposing army without much support from Britain. While the young United States failed to annex the territory of one of the world's nine great powersnote , it did manage to get out of the war without losing anything.
  • We Win Because You Didn't: The Americans failed to annex Canada, never "brought Britain to account" over impressment, and resumed trading with (and being invested in by) Britain at the war's end. Likewise, the USA liked to think that they had managed to prevent Britian from annexing them — not that Britain had actually tried, mind. Nowadays the the outcome of the war is generally agreed as a stalemate. However, since the Canadian colonies were fighting to defend themselves from invasion, the fact that they threw back their would-be conquerors counts as a victory to Canadians. Really, the only real losers of the war were the Native Americans, who lost Tecumseh — their last best chance at checking US expansion into Indian territory — and even more of their lands.
  • You Are in Command Now: John Macdonell after the death of Isaac Brock. Unfortunately, it didn't last too long. Succeeded in turn by Roger Sheaffe, who through a more meticulous and cautious attack managed to entirely thwart the American attack at Queenston.
  • You Shall Not Pass:
    • Pulled by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, and by Joshua Barney's now-shipless flotilla against the British forces advancing on Washington after the Battle of Bladensburg while American militia fled past them in terror.
    • Additionally pulled by the British regulars and Canadian militia defending the Niagara peninsula throughout the war. The American forces only got as far as Stoney Creek, in the eastern part of modern-day Hamilton, Ontario. Partially subverted in that the American army crossed the lake and burned York (now Toronto) to the ground.
  • Zerg Rush: A major part of military tactics at the time but more often utilized by American forces, as British forces were far smaller but more professional. However, the Royal Marines tried it ''twice'' against entrenched troops with ''artillery'' at New Orleans.
    • Said 'artillery' being 16 cannon. Anyhow, one must give the Marines some credit - they had some serious bollocks on them. There was literally no other way to attack that position other than head-on across that open field, what with that great big (un-mapped) swamp preventing them from just going around it.
  • 0% Approval Rating:
    • General Roger Sheaffe, who succeeded Isaac Brock as the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario) after the Battle of Queenston Heights, was never very popular with the citizens he worked to defend. However, this got drastically worse after his retreat in the Battle of York, which allowed the Americans to walk in and sack the town (modern-day Toronto) practically unopposed. Lost on the furious citizens was the fact that Sheaffe's forces were hugely outnumbered by the Americans, and that in withdrawing his forces and blowing up Fort York's magazine he denied the Americans a total, decisive victory and saved the lives of the British regulars under his command. Regardless, Sheaffe lost his military and civilian offices as a result, and was reassigned to Montreal before being recalled to Britain.
    • Sir George Prevost, the Governor of British North America (future Canada), ran into this towards the end of the war. As a result of his failure in the Battle of Plattsburgh, as well as feuding with British and Canadian officers, he was thrown into disrepute as the war ended. He died of illness in January 1816, before a court-martial could be convened to clear his name.
    • General Alexander Smyth openly disrespected the militia general who was his superior officer and casually declined to bring his detachment to participate in the Battle of Queenston Heights. When he took charge of the American forces on the Niagara frontier later that year, his few attempted attacks were a complete failure, and after feuding with the officers under his command he was removed and his name was eventually struck from the rolls of the U.S. Army.

In popular culture:

  • The Alternate History Decades of Darkness has this time period as its point of divergence. Thomas Jefferson dies early in 1809, leading to war tensions ramping up earlier, a "War of 1811", and New England seceding as a result, taking New York and New Jersey with it. The war ends with a British/Yankee curb-stomp victory that sees Chicago (sorry, Dearborn) becoming Canadian and Michigan becoming New England territory.
  • An episode of Due South has a Canadian general reference a Curb-Stomp Battle that the Canadians won during this war. A battle that the American police chief he was yelling at never heard of.
    • Another episode has Constable Fraser addressing an American elementary school class describing the war similarly, stating that the Americans invaded Canada, and "we sent you packing."
  • The first book of Eric Flint's Trail of Glory series, The Rivers of Warnote  is an Alternate History story set during the war.
  • College Humor spoofs the relative obscurity of this war in the mock trailer of a fictitious War Of 1812 movie, where the characters can't even figure out what the war is being fought over and against whom.
  • The Alternate History short story "Empire" by William Sanders has Napoleon moving the the US and coming into American military service. He then promptly backstabbed it (with the help of the likes of Aaron Burr, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston) and carved out his own Empire of the Louisiana. Said empire is embroiled in wars against the US and the Spanish colonies, which expand but later weaken it. The novel is set in an alternate War of 1812 fought between the British and Napoleon's Empire, leading to the defeat and dissolution of the Empire and the Duke of Wellington darkly commenting in the end that "perhaps we shall see about the damned Yankees and their so-called United States of America."
  • Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie made a song called "The War of 1812", which is often misattributed to The Arrogant Worms. It recounts an inaccurate and pro-Canadian version of the events.
  • Several novels of the Master and Commander saga have Aubrey and Maturin and the Royal Navy fighting against the US. The foe was changed to France in the film for marketable reasons.
  • Horatio Hornblower is noteworthy for not featuring this conflict, due to C.S. Forester being quite aware of the size of the American audience for his books. Presumably to avoid either pitting Hornblower against the Americans and to also avoid doing a retread of Hornblower and the Hotspur by instead having him work blockade duty in Europe, Forester gave Hornblower a small squadron of ships and dispatched him to help the Russians break the French Siege of Riga in Commodore Hornblower.

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alternative title(s): The War Of1812; War Of 1812
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