War of 1812
Britain & the United States fought a dramatic but inconclusive conflict that witnessed the burning of Washington, DC & failed American invasions of Canada
Years of tension caused this war between Britain and its Native American allies and the USA
13 OCTOBER 1812 BATTLE OF QUEENSTON HEIGHTS
British and Canadian militiamen (along with First Nation allies) defeat an invading American army on the Niagara Escarpment in the first major battle of the war. The Americans intend to invade Upper Canada, but the battle proves to the British that the Canadians will resist a US occupation.
1803–1812 FROM PRESS GANGS TO WAR
Tensions build between Britain and the USA for almost a decade. The
British forcibly impress American sailors to serve in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, which the US government strenuously objects to. After naval incidents and a failed US trade embargo on Britain, President James Madison declares war on 18 June 1812.
1812–14 AMERICAN INVASIONS OF CANADA
The war is dominated by repeated American invasions of Canada. Although they achieve some successes and temporarily take some territory, the Americans mostly suffer defeats in several battles and campaigns. The invasions contribute to a growing sense of Canadian nationhood.
10 SEPTEMBER–5 OCTOBER 1813 BATTLES OF LAKE ERIE & THE THAMES
The Americans achieve their greatest successes against the British and Canadians at two battles within a month of each other. At Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry captures six Royal Navy ships while the British lose control of Western Ontario at the Battle of the Thames. The Battle of the Thames results in the death of Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief who had waged war against the USA with a powerful Native American confederacy
24 AUGUST 1814 BURNING OF WASHINGTON
After defeating the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg in Maryland, a British force marches on Washington, DC. and proceeds to burn down buildings, including the Capitol and the White House. A heavy thunderstorm puts out the fires and the British return to their ships.
6–15 SEPTEMBER 1814 BATTLES OF PLATTSBURGH & BALTIMORE
The Americans win two victories in quick succession in New York and Maryland against invading British forces. Both battles see the defeat of combined British naval and army forces, and they withdraw from the US east coast.
24 DECEMBER 1814–17 FEBRUARY 1815 TREATY OF GHENT
This peace treaty ends hostilities between the United States and Britain. The political status quo is restored and all conquests are relinquished on both sides. Disputes over territorial boundaries are deferred to joint commissions, and the war effectively ends in a stalemate.
8 JANUARY 1815 BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
Although the Treaty of Ghent has been signed, the news does not reach America for a month. In the interim, the British invade Louisiana but are famously defeated by Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.
Although the British won the Battle of Queenston Heights, their commander, Major General Sir Isaac Brock, was mortally wounded. He exhorted his troops forward, crying, “Push on, brave York Volunteers!”
James Madison had hopes to quickly conquer Canada, but his optimism ultimately would prove to be misplaced
A naval engagement on Lake Champlain during the Battle of Plattsburgh. This clash is nicknamed the ‘False Nile’ by the British, in reference to Horatio Nelson’s great victory
The Battle of New Orleans is a federal holiday in the USA, celebrated with songs, films and a national historical park
The treaty being signed in the Netherlands, with the Americans represented by the future president John Quincy Adams
The British attack on Washington remains the only occasion where a foreign power has captured and occupied the US capital