The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies
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In this vivid narrative, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Alan Taylor tells the riveting story of a war that redefined North America.
In the early nineteenth century, Britons and Americans renewed their struggle over the legacy of the American Revolution. In this second confrontation, soldiers, immigrants, settlers, and Indians fought to determine the fate of a continent. Would revolutionary republicanism sweep the British from Canada? Or would the British contain, divide, and ruin the shaky republic? Moving beyond national histories to examine the lives of common men and women, The Civil War of 1812 reveals an often brutal (sometimes comic) war and illuminates the tangled origins of the United States and Canada.
Curtin, United Irishmen, 284–89; K. A. Miller et al., eds., Irish Immigrants, 603–4; Whelan, “Green Altantic,” 230–31. 48. Peter Hunter to Legislative Council and House of Assembly, May 30, 1801 (“British Nations”), MG 11, 327:41, reel B-285, LAC; F. G. Halpenny and J. Hamelin, “Peter Hunter,” DCB, 5:439; O’Brien, Speedy Justice, 22; Cruikshank, “Memoir of Hunter,” 20. 49. Armitage, “Greater Britain,” 427–45; Richards, “Scotland and the Atlantic Empire,” 67–114; Creighton, Empire, 22–27;
1813 (“enveloped” and “proximity”), in Wilkinson, Memoirs, 3:514 and 516; Morgan Lewis to Gertrude Livingston Lewis, Aug. 9, 1813, in DHCNF, 6:328–29. 41. Morgan Lewis to John Armstrong, July 20, 1813, and Aug. 15, 1813, RG 107, M 221, reel 54, USNA; Wilkinson, Memoirs, 3:347 and 505; Isaac Chauncey to William Jones, July 21, 1813, and Dec. 19, 1813, in Dudley, ed., Naval War, 2:524; James Tilton to John Armstrong, Feb. 18, 1814, RG 107, M 221, reel 57, USNA; Crombie, ed., “Papers of McFarland,”
created by his stubborn and cranky predecessor, Sir James Henry Craig, who had alienated the French Canadian majority in Lower Canada. Treating the assembly with contempt, Craig had arrested leading politicians and shut down the opposition newspaper. Distancing himself from Craig’s hard-line advisers, Prevost deftly conciliated the French Canadian leaders with patronage and respect. By appealing to their distrust of the Americans as pushy cheats and Protestant bigots, Prevost won French Canadian
Americans, however, had a greater and morbid fascination with bodily mutilation. They also had access to printing presses to spread and perpetuate their words to our own time.7 The fear of warriors generated loathing, a categorical hatred of all Indians as murderous savages who deserved extermination. Dread and hatred were alternating emotional currents affecting the same people depending on circumstances. When endowed with superior numbers over vulnerable natives, Americans could butcher
day.42 Operations at Sackett’s Harbor, May 1813. Prevost’s British force landed on Horse Island and crossed to the shore, routing the militia and heading east to attack the regulars entrenched at the village. From Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 (New York, 1869), 612. (Courtesy of the New York State Library.) Instead of chasing the British, the American troops lingered at Newark to plunder the dead and wounded as well as the houses and stores of civilians.