The War of 1812

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture
The War of 1812

please move to another forum if necessary

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The 200th anniversary of this strange little war is just two years away. I put this post here as I don't see a history forum. Is there any interest - anywhere - in marking this bit of history? We've observed anniversaries of Confederation, of the founding of Quebec, of the visits of Jacques Cartier, and on and on... but I'bve seen no interest whatsoever in the War of 1812 - and it was the stuff that history books are made of - the building of the Rideau Canal, the involvement not just of Americans and Canadians, but also of the British, our aboriginal allies, stories of legend such as Laura Secord, and on and on...

On June 18th, 1812, President James Madison and the United States Congress declared war on Great Britain. June 18/2012 would seem to be the appropriate date.

George Victor

Sounds good, Boomer. Might bring the old books out again.  And what about the runup period to the war, say from 1810, saying what was taking place to cause Yankeedom to feeling expansive?  Like Napoleon. The Royal navy and its recruiting methods, etc. Hell, U.S. and Imperial politics will be seen to have hardly changed at all, in the past couple of centuries.  :D

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

A lot of history!

From: http://www.warof1812.ca/

excerpt:

With only a couple of years until the War of 1812 Bicentennial, Canada needs the CBC to begin making a Documentary on the War of 1812. PBS in the United States started filming at the beginning of 2009.

Tommy_Paine

 

If the war of 1812 walked into a room full of silly wars, within five minutes, they'd all be pointing at the war of 1812 and saying "who's the silly war?"  

 

I'm not sure anyone has an emotional investment or anyone can point to some outcome with confidence and say, "we are such and such today because of such and such an event in the war of 1812".   

I guess we can say it was the war where French Canada had it's opportunity to show it's allegiance-- whether it was to the idea of Canada, or some future as a culture in America.   But, it wasn't a hardy endorsement of the British way.   Just the lesser of two evils.  

Same with Tecumseh.  His grand idea for a Native Confederacy west of the Appalachians was never realized, and his people had to settle instead for land here.  Hip Hip, meh.

Upper, and I guess Lower Canadians too, could have played a more savy hand, and conspired with the Americans to create a separate Republic north of the U.S., and shake off the parasitic Family Compact.  Instead, they chose to throw in with The Family Compact, and they still suck from us our life blood today.

Of course, as with any war, there are individual tales of daring do, but on the whole?  It's a war whose movie could only be made by Monty Python's Flying Circus.

 

oldgoat

Thanks Webgear, that looks like it was a lot of work.  Before I start going through all that stuff, is it just a bunch of guys who like dressing up in period uniforms and running whooping and yelling across fields with repro muskets filled with black powder? 

I was wondering if anyone was using the anniversary more as an opportunity for critical reflection on the politico/social aspects of the evolving relationships between Canadian and US settlers, settlers and Europe, or more importantly, this stage in the evolving relationship between European expansionists and First Nations.

 

I should add that I don't have anything really against historical reproductions, it's just that this jingoistc war is glorious AND fun stuff tends to dominate the whole narrative.  In fact in 2037 I look forward to getting tanked and marching on the original site of Montgomery's Tavern, having grown up near there.  Anyone is welcome to join me.

oldgoat

Thanks.  I anticipate that by 2039 I may need help getting up that hill by 2900 Yonge st.  I'll be 87.  Where did they hold the meetings?

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

What, no one has planned a little celebratory arson on the presidential mansion to mark the anniversary?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I may be finished my renovations by 2012, and maybe I'll fly out and rent a car for a couple of those events then. Not this year.

Thanks for all the info, webgear. My family has a connection to 1812.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

bagkitty wrote:

What, no one has planned a little celebratory arson on the presidential mansion to mark the anniversary?

Besides burn it down again, you mean? ; )

skdadl

bagkitty wrote:

What, no one has planned a little celebratory arson on the presidential mansion to mark the anniversary?

 

Inspired thought.

 

(You realize that this conversation has already been picked up by Homeland Security? Wave at the nice agents sitting outside your house in that unmarked car ...)

 

Which year are we going to Montgomery's Tavern? In 2037 I'll be 92 and will probably have been dead for some years already, but if not, count me and my pitchfork in.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

skdadl wrote:

Which year are we going to Montgomery's Tavern? In 2037 I'll be 92 and will probably have been dead for some years already, but if not, count me and my pitchfork in.

In 2037 I'll be 88 and I have own pitchfork.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Quite aware of that Webgear... at the time, the region I lived in was only inhabited by FNs of the Blackfoot Confederacy, none of my ancestors had yet crossed the pond and if I were trace the family tree, the only possible connection I could ever have to the war in question would be one of those sailors, marines or infantrymen... Doesn't mean I can't get a certain amount of glee out of the idea of someone playing with commemorative matches. (Remember, not all of us are Central Canadian Overlords, and there are no United Empire Loyalists rattling around in MY closet.)

George Victor

Boom Boom wrote:
bagkitty wrote:

What, no one has planned a little celebratory arson on the presidential mansion to mark the anniversary?

Besides burn it down again, you mean? ; )

It was not burnt "down".    Pres. Clinton delighted in leading an expedition to the White House roof where a small area of char marks indicate some of the original structure survived.  I would think that the Imperial troops would not have made sure of their work and marched at a quick step back to the boats before nightfall. But it seems to have done the trick

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Just an expression, George ; )

George Victor

A nice warm thought, Boomer.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Seems to have made it into the popular parlance.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Wiki has this: (I can not vouch for the overall accuracy of this huge entry)

The most famous episode was a series of British raids on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, including an attack on Washington, D.C. that resulted in the British burning of the White House, the Capitol, the Navy Yard, and other public buildings, later called the "Burning of Washington."

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_1812

(my HTML appears to be turned off - again)

j.m.

Boom Boom wrote:
Is there any interest - anywhere - in marking this bit of history? 

An emphatic YES

http://www.discover1812.com/

Niagara Parks owns a number of the 1812 sites, so they will be promoting it quite a bit. The Niagara Regions on both sides of the border will be commemorating the war.

Tommy_Paine

In fact in 2037 I look forward to getting tanked and marching on the original site of Montgomery's Tavern, having grown up near there.  Anyone is welcome to join me.

 

Oldgoat, I fervently hope we do it much sooner than that.

 

 

 

Tommy_Paine

 

These knobs who do lyrics on youtube never get them right.  I'm sure it's "briers"  not "wires".

 

Anyway:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxB42cjHTGg

 

 

Not to be outdone, however:    

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7jlFZhprU4

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Webgear.... as long as I can refer to you as a Central Canadian Overload, and make fun of the UEL in your closet, we are cool... Wink

Frmrsldr

George Victor wrote:

Boom Boom wrote:
bagkitty wrote:

What, no one has planned a little celebratory arson on the presidential mansion to mark the anniversary?

Besides burn it down again, you mean? ; )

It was not burnt "down".    Pres. Clinton delighted in leading an expedition to the White House roof where a small area of char marks indicate some of the original structure survived.  I would think that the Imperial troops would not have made sure of their work and marched at a quick step back to the boats before nightfall. But it seems to have done the trick

The "President's residence" was mostly made of brick and therefore did not burn down. It was, however, smoke damaged. The only thing on hand to cover the smoke damage was whitewash. So they used that. The color of the "President's residence" remains the same today. Hence the name: The White House.

Frmrsldr

Here's former General Rick Hillier's definition of a "terrorist":

CBC News wrote:

Hillier also slammed Colvin's claim that many of the detainees who had been arrested were innocent people, saying "nothing could be further from the truth.

"We detained, under violent actions, people trying to kill our sons and daughters, who had in some cases done that, been successful at it, and were continuing to do it."

The question I would ask Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, Rick Hillier, Stockwell Day, etc., is, "What does the War of 1812 mean to you?"

If we are to take them at their word, then, according to their definition of "terrorism" our forefathers who defended Canada, were terrorists.

Let's see, the Americans unjustly attacked/invaded Canada. Canadians (having every right to do so) naturally defended themselves.

Anyone see the parallels between the War of 1812 and the Afghan War, or do I need to spell it out?

That to me is really the significance of the War of 1812. Nothing else.

Be careful you don't fall into the neocon/conservative/Conservative, political right etc., trap and fall for this reinvention/rewriting of Canadian history with its attendant mindless/incorrect glorification of war bullshit.

Instead, we would do better to support the 18th Century universal humanitarian values as expressed by George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and others:

http://original.antiwar.com/blumner/2010/03/12/real-patriots-uphold-our-...

Here's to show how far we have fallen:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article70603...

I'm going to check out the 1990 movie starring Mel Gibson "The Patriot" and see if it has any merit.

I'm interested in the concept of the "patriot": one who has loyalty and fealty to one's country and fellow citizens and a concern for their welfare, versus a "nationalist": one who has fealty and loyalty to the government, one who seems to confuse "government" as being synonymous with one's "nation" or "country".

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

God help us if Harper is still PM when the 1812 Bicentennial happens.

Fotheringay-Phipps

I can't give you any useful links because the Hamilton Spectator is trying to monetize their content and have erected a pay wall, but on March 5 they reported that the Throne Speech had mentioned funding for War of 1812 commemorations. This is a big deal locally because citizens of the GHA tend to see the Battle of Stoney Creek as the pivotal event of the war, and want funding for appropriate bicentenary hooplain 2013. The same day's paper also reported that to the evident scandal of many, about 40 soldiers who were killed in the battle remain in unmarked mass graves. I can see that the events must seem remote to people in Alberta or New Brunswick, but you can't go more than a few miles in Southern Ontario without coming upon a place marked by the war.

George Victor

Tommy_Paine wrote:

In fact in 2037 I look forward to getting tanked and marching on the original site of Montgomery's Tavern, having grown up near there.  Anyone is welcome to join me.

 

Oldgoat, I fervently hope we do it much sooner than that.

 

 

 

You will find me popped up, tankard in hand, in mummified state of rebellion.

aka Mycroft

Douglas Coupland designed statue commemorating the War of 1812.

George Victor

Uh...what is the symbolism involved in this work?  And who could have commissioned it, when smokin' something ? (there was clearly no contest)

aka Mycroft

George Victor wrote:

Uh...what is the symbolism involved in this work?  And who could have commissioned it, when smokin' something ? (there was clearly no contest)

I believe the upright soldier is British and the fallen soldier is American. I think they are Stratego pieces.

aka Mycroft

Webgear wrote:

aka Mycroft

Where are these statues?

Bathurst and Fleet, near Fort York.

Quote:
The standing soldier is dressed as a member of the 1813 Royal Newfoundland Regiment; the soldier on its backside is a member of the 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment. "I wanted to come up with an elegant and simple way of saying no, the British won," said Mr. Coupland. 

George Victor

aka Mycroft wrote:

George Victor wrote:

Uh...what is the symbolism involved in this work?  And who could have commissioned it, when smokin' something ? (there was clearly no contest)

I believe the upright soldier is British and the fallen soldier is American. I think they are Stratego pieces.

Since the fallen pice also has a foot pedestal, I thought that perhaps it symbolizes an awakening America and the positions of the two pieces could easily be reversed at a moment's notice.   Would save on commissioning a new piece down the road in this age of austerity.

Webgear
Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Fascinating, Webgear. Thanks!

skdadl

That's a very witty photo, Mycroft. Well, I laughed, anyway.

 

I was sort of chuffed to discover some years ago that my dad's family, who came to Nova Scotia from Scotland in the 1770s-80s, produced a number of junior army officers who turned into minor rebels in the 1830s. All that was sort of local to the Truro/Colchester County/Musquodoboit area, but it was an actual wee mutiny for a while among young officers who obviously harboured rebel and maybe republican sentiments -- not Merkin, just not establishment. There's a lot more to our history than most of us learned in school.

George Victor

I still think the statuary is sooo Canadian. An uncertain future awaits, therefore the position of the two figures must be easily reversible at a moment's notice.  Of course, the sculptor could also be saying that the distant war is reducible to toy soldiers on a child's imaginary field of action. Or it could just be the whimsical creation of shallow, tasteless, emotionless fancy.

Bet your junior officer forbears were devoted to Joseph Howe and Nova Scotian autonomy, skdadl. They achieved it by the 1850s didn't they? Or was their dislike born at Culloden and perhaps carried the threat imagined in No Great Mischief?

edmundoconnor

I'd heartily reccommend Strange Fatality by James E. Elliott for probably the final word on the Battle of Stoney Creek. Distills the misadventure of the whole war down to a single incident. Although as always, I turn to Berton for the overarching account.

It's been said before, but Coupland is engaging in yet more games with the sculpture. Where is a representative from the FNs?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The War of 1812  gave America its national anthem and every time I hear the words I remember that it is about New England being bombed in retaliation for having attacked Canada.

And lets us not forget that the majority of English speaking Upper Canadians were either themselves United Empire Loyalists or the sons and daughters or grand children of UEL's.  The first American Civil War had only taken place a mere 30 years or so before 1812. The American Congressional sessions from the period have politicians speaking of "liberating Canada" and having the locals cheering the Americans on as they invade.  The message seems so familiar and current because it has been used every time the Yankee imperial army invades another part of the globe.. 

skdadl

Oh, I laughed at the photograph because of the moment the photographer captured, the woman walking by and turning so that she is in almost the same posture as the standing figure. That's just serendipity, o' course.

 

George, I'm not sure how my ancestors thought of Culloden -- the family had lived for a long time in a number of touns along both sides of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh-Stirling, so they weren't exactly the Highlanders of No Great Mischief, although that doesn't automatically tell us much about their politics. I don't know more than that until after a pair of brothers, born right after Culloden, came to Nova Scotia and settled in Colchester County. It may well have been Canadian and Nova Scotia politics alone that engaged them, although being Scots, there'd be a certain general bloody-mindedness in the heritage, eh?

 

 

Tommy_Paine

There's a lot more to our history than most of us learned in school.

 

And they are teaching much less of it, Skdadl.  Pointedly teaching much less of it, I think.

 

When I played stratego, the game pieces were plastic blocks with military icons on them, not toy soldiers.

 

Funny, I look at the statues and come away with a much different view.   Game pieces.   I think in the years after Waterloo, wannabee 19th century war buffs really got into toy soldiers, and devoted much time to setting up missrepresentations various battles.  

 

It's been said before, but Coupland is engaging in yet more games with the sculpture. Where is a representative from the FNs?

And where's the UEL's hidding in their corn cribs while FN's, British Regulars and Quebecois militia did the fighting?

 

The beat goes on.

 

Tommy_Paine

 

I'm sorry for being such a noodgey dark cloud of sardonica on this.   But I find the war of 1812 one of those poiniantly tragic wars, right up there with the Boer War.   I know some may argue the same for all wars-- but, I do think there's the odd one where killing and dying made a difference, were worthy risks.   Not so this war, and I don't look for anything to draw on here, except the futility and utter stupidity of most wars.

 

But, I understand, in fact I'm more often than not one, that some are interested in the historical esoterica for it's own sake.   And, sorry for raining on this dress parade.  

I'll march along in another war, with you.

 

 

George Victor

You've gotta read the late Pierre Berton  to find that Canadian spirit, TP.  Vimy and the 1812 set to, both. One kept us independent of the land of the free (for for a bit), and the other meant the end to petitioning  mother.  Now we can join the land of the free as an independent state (of the union) and finally satisfy our conservative business brethren that we have reached optimal market scale.

edmundoconnor

Tommy_Paine wrote:

And where's the UEL's hidding in their corn cribs while FN's, British Regulars and Quebecois militia did the fighting?

For that I have an answer. The whole sculpture's on a hinge. Simply lift it up (an earthmover/crane would help), and you can see the UELs cowering underneath.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I agree with Webgear Embarassed

The militias of both Upper and Lower Canada played a significant role in homeland defence.  But I do agree that the FN's and British regulars were the main fighting forces that won the war.

Frmrsldr

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The War of 1812  gave America its national anthem and every time I hear the words I remember that it is about New England being bombed in retaliation for having attacked Canada.

"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

This commemorates the fact that although Fort McHenry in Maryland (a border state - between New England and the South) suffered a non-stop 24 hour bombardment by the British, it did not fall.

For Americans, there are a number of reasons for the War of 1812. One of them is, that after the Louisiana Territory purchase, the French either left or were forced to leave the territory. The Louisiana Territory covered a vast swath of land stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Now it was the turn of the British to go. The British had forts and garrisons in Detroit and elsewhere and were arming and inciting the Indians against Americans. The British were an oppressive colonial power who were impeding American national progress.

The seige of Fort McHenry was a minor American success. The campaign in the South generally went favorably for the Americans. The greatest success for the Americans in the War of 1812 was the naval battle on the Great Lakes where the Americans kicked some serious British Royal Navy buttocks.

For the British, the War of 1812 was an unwinnable quagmire. Like the American War of Independence, the British were on the offensive and generally commanded the ground they occupied. What was the point? It was guerrilla warfare where British loss of life slowly added up over time. It was a drain on the British Treasury. Unless the British Army and government could convince the Americans to once again become loyal subjects of the Crown of England, both wars were pointless with no possibility of victory. In both cases, as in the case of the American ground war in Canada - where Americans couldn't convince British North Americans/BNA-ers/"Canadians"(?) that they were fellow American patriots - it was only a matter of time before withdrawal.

kropotkin1951 wrote:

And lets us not forget that the majority of English speaking Upper Canadians were either themselves United Empire Loyalists or the sons and daughters or grand children of UEL's.  The first American Civil War had only taken place a mere 30 years or so before 1812. The American Congressional sessions from the period have politicians speaking of "liberating Canada" and having the locals cheering the Americans on as they invade.  The message seems so familiar and current because it has been used every time the Yankee imperial army invades another part of the globe.. 

The Afghan War is the reverse of the War of 1812. This time we (Canada and America, in cahoots with Britain and others) are the bad guys, the colonial oppressors. The good guys are the venerable Afghan minutemen who are defending their families, their farms and their country against our invasion, occupation, tyranny and deprivations.Wink

Tommy_Paine

The author of that piece, Francis Scott Key, also acted as deffense lawyer for Sam Huston, after Houston beat another Congressman with a hickory cane.  I think Key's song writting ability matched his legal prowess:  Huston was found guilty.

 

Houston served as a lieutenant under Andrew Jackson, and was wounded in the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Frmrsldr

George Victor wrote:

Vimy and the 1812 set to, both. One kept us independent of the land of the free (for for a bit), and the other meant the end to petitioning mother.

I warned that waxing too nostalgic over the War of 1812 could lead to the glorification of war in general. The First World War (any WW I battle will suffice) was the epitome of ultimate senseless murder and waste of life on a mass scale. As the Canadian government had no say over entering the war, it shows that Canada at that time was still a slave colony of Britain.

In World War II, the Hong Kong and Dieppe fiascos were the result of that war criminal WLMK champing at the bit to prove that Canada was a worthy ally to the British and Americans.

Ending war starts with the admission that those who die in them died in vain.

Unless you use war to argue against war, then you fall for the Harper/Con game of getting caught up in the hype of phony and vulger 'wrap yourself up in the flag' nationalism. A bit of which we saw during the Olympic games.

Frmrsldr

Tommy_Paine wrote:

The author of that piece, Francis Scott Key, also acted as deffense lawyer for Sam Huston, after Houston beat another Congressman with a hickory cane.  I think Key's song writting ability matched his legal prowess:  Huston was found guilty.

Houston served as a lieutenant under Andrew Jackson, and was wounded in the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Francis Scott Key seems to have had PR prowess (either intentionally, accidentally or a bit of both). At the time, Sam Houston received many canes from sympathizers and well wishers. What was his punishment - an apology before the House and a small fine?

George Victor

Frmrsldr wrote:

George Victor wrote:

Vimy and the 1812 set to, both. One kept us independent of the land of the free (for for a bit), and the other meant the end to petitioning mother.

I warned that waxing too nostalgic over the War of 1812 could lead to the glorification of war in general. The First World War (any WW I battle will suffice) was the epitome of ultimate senseless murder and waste of life on a mass scale. As the Canadian government had no say over entering the war, it shows that Canada at that time was still a slave colony of Britain.

In World War II, the Hong Kong and Dieppe fiascos were the result of that war criminal WLMK champing at the bit to prove that Canada was a worthy ally to the British and Americans.

Ending war starts with the admission that those who die in them died in vain.

Unless you use war to argue against war, then you fall for the Harper/Con game of getting caught up in the hype of phony and vulger 'wrap yourself up in the flag' nationalism. A bit of which we saw during the Olympic games.

For some reason you seem to have singled out my summary of those battles as a preliminary to a lecture on the "glorification of war", to which I can only reply that your corn flakes have been spiked. Me old dad was in an Irish regiment in the First War (a Londoner himself) who marched away from that little set to convinced that he had to remove himself from the setting of such madness as soon as possible, and that humanity would have to work long and hard to escape - in the old sexist rendition - "man's inhumanity to man."

You "warned" about glorification of war?   Really?  Look up "wry humour", or (and not to compare myself with him) read Vonnegut sometime. And if you have already read Slaughterhouse Five, please explain the pontificating message apparently aimed at myself.

And check your cornflakes.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I think everyone accepts that war is hell, but the War of 1812 happened, and thus is open to historical analysis. I think it's a huge mistake to glorify the event in any way, and I am 100% opposed to re-enactments (also opposed to those stupid American Civil War enactments down south as well). I'm worried about the 200th coming up in 2012, especially if Harper is still PM, because likely a big deal will be made of this Bicentennial. There's history books available for folks that want to read up on the war - some well written, and by Canadian authors. Friends have sent me links to 1812 discussion groups, but my only interest in 1812 was reading about the causes of the war; however I'm also concerned about the possible jingoism we're about to experience as 2012 draws near.

Frmrsldr

 

 

George Victor wrote:

For some reason you seem to have singled out my summary of those battles as a preliminary to a lecture on the "glorification of war", ... please explain the pontificating message apparently aimed at myself.

George Victor my good friend, please accept my apologies if you feel I singled out you for a lecture on the glorification of war. I did not single out you as a person, but, as you state, your summary of those battles, which are actually summaries/interpretations that have been repeated ad nauseum ever since these battles were fought. I do not engage in ad hominem arguments as they are vulger and something small minded people do. My arguments are a warning to all babblers posting on this War of 1812 page against the dangers of glorifying war. That is why I also brought up Hong Kong and Dieppe and the olympics, which you didn't mention on this page. Perhaps to lecture on the danger of glorifying war on this page is to piss on others' cornflakes. For that I am sorry. This is what the discussion of war does to me; excites the realization of the waste, folly and senselessness of war.

George Victor wrote:

You "warned" about glorification of war?   Really?  Look up "wry humour", or (and not to compare myself with him) read Vonnegut sometime. And if you have already read Slaughterhouse Five,...

Frmrsldr wrote:

Be careful you don't fall into the neocon/conservative/Conservative, political right etc., trap and fall for this reinvention/rewriting of Canadian history with its attendant mindless/incorrect glorification of war bullshit. (Post #31)

I have indeed read Slaughterhouse Five and other works by Kurt Vonnegut. About the only thing I haven't done concerning war is fight in one (which I consciously chose not to). I also haven't written a book about war. But I'm young and there's still time.

And, again George, please accept my apologies. It was not personal.Smile

 

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