Sunday, November 13, 2011

More on the War of 1812

Still researching the War of 1812, and still looking back at James Madison et al. and asking them, "What the HELL were you thinking picking that fight? Do you have any IDEA how lucky you were to get away with a draw?"

Though, to give my countrymen of 200 years ago credit, a lot of that is my 20-20 hindsight talking. They went into it with the not-at-all-illogical assumption that Napoleon was going to continue as master of Europe, and that he'd either gradually wear the British down or that the European wars would keep going and going and going. Fighting to get some trade and territorial concessions out of an apparently weakened and certainly distracted Britain made all kinds of sense. It's easy to see now that Napoleon was already past his peak as a commander, and that the cracks were starting to show in his empire. While it was actually happening, from the other side of the Atlantic? Probably not so much.

American declared war on 18 June 1812. Three years to the day before Waterloo. And less than a week before Napoleon crossed the Niemen River into Russia--and if there's a single event that sealed his doom, it's that invasion. It's kinda hard to come back from a campaign where you lose over 80% of the army you went in with.

So, yeah, my fellow Americans guessed wrong on that one. Oops.


  1. Had fun chatting with you on Twitter so I figured I'd check out your blog.

    Lovely! I'll certainly be back :)

    Christi Corbett

  2. I was just reading a reference to the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans online. One of the commenters said that Brits are bemused when they learn Americans today think the US won the war.