The Anglo-American War of the 1812

(To Federico Gozzi)

The 1812 was a turning point for History, as Napoleon's Empire, having reached its peak, attempted the invasion of Russia, inexorably marking its decline, leading Europe, years later, to the period of Restoration.

Meanwhile, the United States started a war against the British, caused mainly by commercial reasons. In fact, in 1807, England was the victim of the famous "continental block" imposed by Napoleon to starve the British, cutting off every supply. The US, on the other hand, maintained a pacifist and double-agent attitude, selling its products to both parties, so the English Crown arrogated to itself the right to search US merchant ships when they crossed the trade routes, effectively preventing the Americans from being able to trade freely with the French. This only added to the American national resentment against the British, which had never died out in the decades following the Revolution. These causes, combined with the fact that the British supported the Indian tribes that resisted American expansionism, laid the foundations for the Anglo-American war of the 1812, which was fought mainly on American soil.

The 18 June of the 1812, the USA, drunk with expansionist and imperialist will, declared war on England with the aim of annexing Canadian territory. In this context, in addition to a regular army, they also gathered a militia composed of simple citizens and militiamen from allied Indian tribes. The British, on the other hand, had at their disposal the armies stationed in Canada and the Indian colonial troops.
The United States attempted the invasion of Canada but was repulsed as their armies were disorganized and lacking in-depth knowledge of the Canadian lands. The 16 August General Hull surrendered to the British, ceding the city of Detroit to the latter, who occupied it. American troops led by General Van Rensealler, of democratic ideals, refused to cross the Niagara and fight. The war for the United States was for the worse, so much so that the Americans tried desperately to advance towards Montreal, but the plan proved a failure.

The wind started to change in the 1813. Detroit was reconquered by the USA, and the legendary Commodore Perry defeated an entire naval battle group on Lake Erie, events that allowed a general American counteroffensive, also due to a change of leadership: General Winfield Scott, winner of Fort Erie and Chippewa, assumed command of the US Armed Forces. Near Frenchtown, however, a real massacre was consummated: the British, victorious on the battlefield, left the American prisoners at the complete mercy of the Indian militias, who gave vent to their most violent instincts, killing and torturing the Americans survivors (image).

During this year the battle of Lundy's Lane was also fought, which was claimed as a victory by both sides in the conflict.

The following year, the 1814 constituted a godsend for the British, as the war in Europe against the Napoleonic legions was won and consequently 18.000 veterans from the battlefields were sent to support British troops. Old World. The United Kingdom, aware that victory would come only with the conquest of the heart of the US Federal State, started an offensive that aimed at conquering New York. An army of about 90.000 men, led by General Prevost, advanced along the Hudson in an attempt to take the city. They were blocked by the American fleet present in Lake Champlain. A further British army, landed at Chesapeake, occupied Washington, causing President Madison to flee. Several public buildings were set on fire, including the presidential residence, which was rebuilt and painted white, taking the name of White House, or the White House. In addition, the British besieged Baltimore, whose garrison expressed a tenacious resistance (the current American anthem was also composed during the battle). General Jackson, at the head of an American army, moved to Pensacola, Florida, snatching it from English control, returning it to the Spaniards, who at the time occupied Florida.

The war ended with the Treaty of Ghent (Belgium) signed by both sides. The treaty established that there was a return to the pre-war political situation, re-establishing boundaries and forcing the parties to release the prisoners. The United Kingdom was pressing to create a buffer zone to be placed between Ohio and Michigan where the Indian populations were placed, which were tried by the war, so that their threat to American expansionism weakened. The British, moreover, despite the promises never released prisoners but paid the United States about 250.000 pounds as compensation for their action.
The conflict was not yet over, and its epilogue was the Battle of New Orleans, as British troops, as ignorant as their American counterparts of the outcome of the Treaty of Ghent, occupied the city of New Orleans and some surrounding territories. General Jackson, the liberator of Pensacola, organized an offensive to resume the area. Ironically, the most useless battle of the war was also the bloodiest, with about 2000 dead on the English side.

The Anglo-American war of the 1812 is a reference for the American nation: it has contributed to the construction of the American patriotic ideal and is the last case of conflict fought on US soil.