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War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 15 2012 at 8:30 PM

WAFFer  (Login AryanArya)
Satyameva Jayate (India)

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-14/war-of-1812-bicentennial/55603666/1

War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

LEWISTON, N.Y. When the first big battle of the War of 1812 is re-enacted this fall, the U.S. 1st Artillery regiment will mount an ear-splitting barrage. The Yanks will point their cannons at British redcoats across the Niagara River in Canada. They will wear blue. They will curse King George.

Unlike 200 years ago, they will all be Canadians.

Many Americans aren't that into the War of 1812 not like Canadians, anyway so the latter often play the former in re-enactments along the international border here.
"For the weekend, I'll have to be a turncoat," says John Sek, 60, an English-born Canadian who will play a U.S. Army gunnery captain in the Battle of Queenston Heights. "There isn't the same interest in the war on your side."

To grossly generalize: Canadians, whose forebears helped repulse several U.S. invasions in 1812, regard the war that began 200 years ago Monday as a crucible of national identity. For them, its bicentennial is a big deal.

Americans, on the other hand, are familiar with the 1959 hit song The Battle of New Orleans and have a vague image of Dolley Madison fleeing the White House ahead of torch-brandishing Royal Marines with a portrait of George Washington under her arm.

Although they are supposed to study the war in high school, many can't recall exactly who fought it (the United States and Britain), why (trade issues, freedom of the sea, westward expansion) or who won (unclear).
Congress has declined to create a national bicentennial commission. In New York State, the last two governors have rejected, for financial reasons, proposals to create a state commission.

Lee Simonson, Lewiston's War of 1812 coordinator, has had to organize the town's part of the Battle of Queenston Heights re-enactment without any state funds to pay for soldiers' meals or black gunpowder. In the binational commemoration, he says, "we're the little brother."
This attitude could mute enthusiasm for the commemoration of a war that historians say secured the Revolution of 1776 and shaped the new American nation.

There are exceptions. Maryland whose governor has participated in 1812 re-enactments has issued War of 1812 license plates, and an official bicentennial commission has plans for a three-year, $25 million commemoration.
The bicentennial also is being promoted by the U.S. Navy, which traces many traditions to the war and hopes to use it to remind Americans, in a time of military budget cuts, of its own importance.
Canadians have their uses for the bicentennial, to which the federal government has committed $28 million. Plans include a new war memorial in Ottawa; more than 100 events, including re-enactments; commemorative stamps and coins; renovation of historic sites; and a phone app for battlefield tours.
It's part of an effort by the Conservative Party prime minister, Stephen Harper, to foster a more unified national identity by celebrating Canada's historic roots, including military victories and its British heritage.
A poll last year found that while 17% of Canadians say the War of 1812 was the most important war in forming their nation's identity, only 3% of Americans feel that way. More than one of three Americans say there were no significant outcomes from the war or none they can name.

A war to forget

Many Americans don't know what to make of a war that historian Richard Hofstadter once called "ludicrous and unnecessary" and Brown's Gordon Wood more recently deemed "the strangest in American history."
It began with a declaration of war by Americans who did not realize, because word traveled by sea, that the British government had granted some of their key demands several days earlier.
It ended with a battle that took place, again unknown to the participants, two weeks after a peace treaty was signed in Europe.

The Americans picked a fight with the world's greatest military power, which they were unprepared to fight. The U.S. Army was a shadow of the one that won the Revolutionary War; the Navy had about 16 ships, compared with more than 500 for the British.

Even worse, the United States entered the war with an entire section New England vehemently opposed to it. What followed was equally bizarre, especially an early string of U.S. naval victories. James Grossman, director of the American Historical Association, says it's as if Serbia had smacked around the U.S. Air Force in 1999.
The war featured a major naval battle on Lake Erie; the burning of the Canadian and the American capitals, as well as Buffalo; and, in the midst of everything, a duel between two U.S. generals in western New York. "Unfortunately," historian John Elting once noted, "both missed."

In an age when officers were gentlemen and units largely homogeneous, the war's most famous battle (New Orleans) was won by an assemblage of soldiers, sailors, Marines, Indians, freed slaves, slaves and pirates commanded by a rough-edged country lawyer from Tennessee named Andrew Jackson.
In history, unfortunately, novelty does not guarantee fame. Forced to compete with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the War of 1812 fights obscurity for several reasons:
Confusing causes. Was the war fought to stop Britain's seizing of U.S. sailors from U.S. ships to serve in the Royal Navy? Or to end trade restrictions? Or to seize Canada? Or to open the American West to settlement without interference from British-allied Indians? Or all of the above?

Take impressment the seizing of sailors Britain claimed were British. New England, the region whose citizens suffered most from the practice, was the one most opposed to the war. British policies hampered the region's sea trade; war ended it.
Many of the war's biggest proponents in Congress came from landlocked states such as Tennessee and Kentucky, which saw impressment as part of a pattern of British mischief that included support for Native Americans who blocked westward expansion.

Leaders with feet of clay. The war made some great men look bad. James Madison wasn't much of a war president; he became the only one ever driven from the White House. His sainted predecessor, Thomas Jefferson, wasn't much of a seer; he'd predicted the conquest of Canada "will be a mere matter of marching."
Although the Americans established a beachhead in their initial assault on Queenston Heights, victory turned into defeat when raw, untrained militia troops, ignoring the pleas of their general, refused to cross the river.

Britain's heart wasn't in it. For the British, preoccupied with war in Europe against Napoleon, 1812 was a sideshow. "They sent their B team," says Maj. John Grodzinski, who teaches at the Royal Military College of Canada.
Jim Hill of the Niagara (Ont.) Parks Commission recalls an old saying: "Canadians are sure they won the War of 1812, Americans are pretty sure, and the British never heard of it." British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted as much on his last visit to the White House, joking, "We so much more prefer talking about defeating the French."

An inconclusive conclusion. The war, which ended for lack of (British) interest and (American) money, "is ignored today because it was a tie," Grossman says. "A narrative that doesn't end definitively is hard to make interesting."
Some try by calling it "The Second American Revolution." Historian Alan Taylor of the University of California-Davis writes that the war "looms small in American memory because it apparently ended as a draw that changed no boundary and no policy."

A war to remember

It's easy to forget that the War of 1812 gave America its national anthem, whose lyrics Francis Scott Key wrote after watching the British shelling of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. (The melody came from an old English drinking song.)

For all its foibles, historians say the war is one to remember for several other reasons:

The United States was here to stay. Ever since the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781 that ended the Revolutionary War, much of Europe still regarded the United States as an upstart and its democracy an experiment.
Like a kid who stands up to a playground bully and gets a bloody nose but makes a point, the United States upheld its national sovereignty by defending itself against British harassment at sea.
Moreover, "the war gave Americans a sense of what it meant to be an American," says Denver Brunsman, who will publish a book next year on the impressment issue. "Part of that was to volunteer as free citizens for military or naval service."

It shaped the American future, economically, diplomatically and militarily. The war killed the idea of America as an agrarian nation with a weak military, static borders and a quasi-isolationist foreign policy. President Jefferson had tried to withdraw the nation from European trade to avoid war, and he was notoriously suspicious of manufacturing and its attendant "wage slavery."
Yet after what Brunsman calls "the war's near death experience" Army humbled, Navy bottled up, capital sacked "even the party of Jefferson and Madison realizes that it's not enough to be an agrarian power, that the country needs to make things. It needs to be more like Britain."
That included a strong military. Winfield Scott, a young Army officer, was taken prisoner in the disaster at Queenston Heights. When the war was over, he and other veterans reformed the Army to avoid a repetition of the mistakes they'd seen.

The war established that the United States would not expand into Canada and would grow west and south. The defeat of Britain's Creek Indian allies cleared the way for the spread of slave-based cotton planting into Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and set the stage for the Civil War.

The rise of Andrew Jackson.Old Hickory made his name at the Battle of New Orleans by giving the war a happy ending (for Americans). The victory marked the beginning of his political ascent and that of a class of people white men of limited means previously excluded from American politics. It was the end of Federalists, the party of Washington and John Adams, who bitterly opposed the war and looked foolish after Jackson's victory.

The biggest losers. Although there is much debate over who won the War of 1812, it's clear who lost it: Native Americans east of the Mississippi. The Indians in the Great Lakes states hoped for British support for a sort of buffer state against American expansion. With the end of the war, they lost any hope of independence from, or equality with, the settlers.
Jeffrey Pasley, a University of Missouri historian, calls 1812 the last war "in which there was any doubt about the outcome" of a military clash between the two cultures.

Canada stayed British. By repulsing the American invasion, the Canadian colony began its march toward self-rule in 1867 and created a pantheon of national heroes.
They include Gen. Isaac Brock, who died in the defense of Queenston Heights; his ally, the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh; and Laura Secord, a 37-year-old housewife who reportedly walked 20 miles in May 1813 to warn a British commander of an impending American attack.

Today Brock's statue stands 18 stories high on a column overlooking the Niagara River and Lewiston. "Thanks to the war," says John Sek, the Canadian re-enactor who wears a blue coat, "we're not waving an American flag today."

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(Make this World Noble)

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E7
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June 15 2012, 8:55 PM 

I haven't heard about the bicentennial anywhere.. No mention of it in the news or TV here (not the stations I watch anyway)..

I hear about it every day on the Sean Hannity show though (I don't listen to him because I like him, I listen to him for a laugh.. same reason I watch the Orielly Factor wink.gif ).. and he keeps advertising some commemorative coin celebrating the war of 1812.. That's the only reason I knew it was coming up.

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This message has been edited by E7 on Jun 15, 2012 8:56 PM


 
 

Provost
(Login MPOne)
WAFFer.

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 15 2012, 10:12 PM 

Isn't this the first one Canada tied in? [linked image]


[linked image]"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.

It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.

Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."

John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.
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E7
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June 16 2012, 12:16 AM 

You're actually right.. and we learned from that to go on to kick @ss in future wars.. wink.gif

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Milkman
(Login American_Patriot)
Eagle Squadron (US)

War of 1812

June 16 2012, 2:26 AM 

It has been alluded to as the WAR of bad communication. The British agreed to address American grievances; however, the news reached Washington after the declaration of war.

The greatest American victory against the British, the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, happened after the war ended; however, the news didn't travel fast enough.

Milkman

 
 

WAFFer
(Login Eric_De_La_Legion)
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Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 16 2012, 12:41 PM 

THe Quebecois carved the the Americans a new *** when they tried to invade Montreal. That with a much smaller force of militia. ironically, France itself supported the US.

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De Gaulle to the General Koenig, Norman hero of Bir Hakeim: "Hear and tell your troops: the whole of France is watching you, you are our pride."[

 
 

Coalde
(Login cwc.mgmt)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 16 2012, 6:02 PM 

I hadn't heard about it either until I saw an ad for it on the subway...

http://www.toronto.ca/1812/

...that is the only thing I have seen regarding it. I may wander over to Fort York some weekend this summer to check it out, it has been years since I have been to one of the many Napoleonic forts that dot Southern Ontario...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_York - right in downtown Toronto (seriously it is almost entirely surrounded by condominium towers now)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_George,_Ontario - Niagara on the Lake...you can go wine tasting after touring this one! wink.gif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Henry,_Ontario - In Kingston...I don't go to Kingston much, so you are on your own. wink.gif


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Brendan
(Login 7keys)
The Canucks (Canada)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 17 2012, 5:43 AM 

There is some big art installation in Fort York this week so I'll probably check that out one day after work. There's also a huge reenactment at Queenston this fall that I'll probably have to see.

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Coalde
(Login cwc.mgmt)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 17 2012, 2:48 PM 

October 13 -In the morning, hundreds of re-enactors will make the historic march from Fort George to Queenston Heights. During the day there will military demonstrations, tours of the battlefield, music and period merchants. Starting at 3:00 pm there will be a dramatic re-enactment of the battle of Queenston Heights, including the death of Brock, native skirmishes and the successful attack by Roger Hale Sheaffe.This followed by a ceremony at the base of the monument to commemorate those who fell during the war. At dusk, Brock's body will be taken away on a wagon, followed by a fireworks display. Food services, parking arrangements and shuttle bus services are being arranged.

http://www.1812niagaraonthelake.ca/2012-s13330


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E7
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June 17 2012, 2:58 PM 

I want to see one of these re-enactments.. I imagine they are similar to the civil war ones... Just for the lul factor.. and just so I can scream out "Set up your C6 on the end of the line!" wink.gif


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E7
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June 17 2012, 3:01 PM 

[THe Quebecois carved the the Americans a new *** when they tried to invade Montreal. That with a much smaller force of militia. ironically, France itself supported the US.]

-There's a site near the US border that we sometimes visit when we're doing training in civilian sectors that commemorates where the US army was pushed back when entering Quebec...

The force that pushed them back wasn't because they were superior.. it was because the US soldiers had marched for days on little food and water, and were heavily fatigued when the fighting started.

It wasn't some "monumental French victory" (is that an oxymoron? wink.gif )

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WAFFer
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Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 18 2012, 7:22 AM 

The force that pushed them back wasn't because they were superior.. it was because the US soldiers had marched for days on little food and water, and were heavily fatigued when the fighting started.

Piss poor excuse. Napoleon armies marched over the entire Europe and still managed to trash armies on their own tuff. Check the Italian campaign where starved French soldiers beat the living poo out of the Austrians. Being tired and hungry is not an excuse for losing a battle.

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De Gaulle to the General Koenig, Norman hero of Bir Hakeim: "Hear and tell your troops: the whole of France is watching you, you are our pride."[


    
This message has been edited by Eric_De_La_Legion on Jun 18, 2012 7:24 AM


 
 
E7
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June 18 2012, 2:37 PM 

Napoleon also had better logistics.. the soldiers were well fed and had plenty of water. You're comparing a conquering army to an army of a nation still forming. Stop trying to make the "french" victory sound better than it was. It was a victory against a force that was tired, hungry and thirsty... I guess we can call them "factors needed for a french victory"... wink.gif

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Coalde
(Login cwc.mgmt)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 18 2012, 7:47 PM 

"I want to see one of these re-enactments.. "

You know women really like going to Niagara on the Lake...it is a very "botiquey" town with lot's of quaint Victorian buildings.


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Lee
(Login drkstr)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 18 2012, 8:35 PM 

Napoleon had piss poor logistics

His armies were expected to live off the land foraging was used for most food and fodder supplies. Its one of the main reasons he failed in Russian, he could get away with it in central Europe and Iberia because the land supported dense agriculture and the Grand Army robbed the farmers at musket point, in Russia when he outran his logistics train like he regularly did in Europe he starved to death.

Wellington was the logistical master of the Napoleonic period

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E7
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June 18 2012, 11:36 PM 

Most nations lived off the land of the nation they invaded back then. It was faster to get food/water/supplies locally than it was to ferry them from their nation of origin. Napoleon created train regiments however for the more efficient distribution of supplies.

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Eryx
(Login Eric_De_La_Legion)
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Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 19 2012, 7:13 AM 

Napoleon also had better logistics.. the soldiers were well fed and had plenty of water. You're comparing a conquering army to an army of a nation still forming. Stop trying to make the "french" victory sound better than it was. It was a victory against a force that was tired, hungry and thirsty... I guess we can call them "factors needed for a french victory"...

If an army is gonna be too tired and hungry to fight a battle then they should stay at home instead of trying an invasion. Soldiers being tired and bordering starvation were commonplace back then. In fact the sight of battle was a chance for them to eat by taking the enemy's supply.



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[linked image]

De Gaulle to the General Koenig, Norman hero of Bir Hakeim: "Hear and tell your troops: the whole of France is watching you, you are our pride."[


    
This message has been edited by Eric_De_La_Legion on Jun 19, 2012 7:15 AM


 
 

WAFFer
(Login may18a)
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Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 21 2012, 8:08 AM 

I always wondered what would have happened in that war if napoleon had not existed.. (although of course the war of 1812 may not have happened)

I guess the States would have been facing ships of the line under nelson and armies under wellington...



______
Some one had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

 
 

PUNIT
(Login ssssshhhh...)
Satyameva Jayate (India)

Re: War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out

June 28 2012, 1:00 PM 

-There's a site near the US border that we sometimes visit when we're doing training in civilian sectors that commemorates where the US army was pushed back when entering Quebec...

The force that pushed them back wasn't because they were superior.. it was because the US soldiers had marched for days on little food and water, and were heavily fatigued when the fighting started.

It wasn't some "monumental French victory" (is that an oxymoron? )
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as a canadian(?) are u with this victory or against it?

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E7
(Login E7)
Elite WAFF Vet Club

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June 29 2012, 11:30 PM 

That's like me asking you if you're for, or against the Indian victory over Pakistan... wink.gif

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