Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

Flying to the east coast, I finished reading The War of 1812, A Forgotten Conflict by Donald Hickey. As a follow-up to reading the Thomas Jefferson biography last year, I decided to read a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition and a book about The War of 1812. This book also fits loosely into my project to read books about all of the presidents. James Madison, the fourth president, was president during the War of 1812.

Madison's call to war in May of 1812 charged the The British with a number of offenses. These included: impressing American seamen; violating American waters; establishing illegal blockages, particularly under the Council of Orders; employing a secret agent to subvert the Union; and, exerting influence over the Indians. Impressment was a particularly volatile issue dating back to the Chesapeake Affair in 1807.

Four random observations about the war… First, I didn't remember or realize the Battle of Tippecanoe was part of the build up to the War of 1812. Second, if the military hadn't mismanaged the first year of war, all of Canada would probably be part of the United States! Third, the issues of supply lines and communications are fascinating. Both sides had enormous struggles supplying advancing troops along the northern frontier. Highlighting the communication problems, the major American victory of the war--The Battle of New Orleans--was fought after the war was over. Lastly, the federal government was broke and had a horrible time raising money to finance the war.

While I appreciate getting an overview of the War of 1812, this is not my favorite book. I am going to look for some other War of 1812 books that are focused on specific aspects over the next couple of years…

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