The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States erupted over a few issues, mostly to do with shipping. The Yanks didn’t like the fact that they were occasionally impressed into the Royal Navy. Britain was restricting America’s seaborne trade with other nations. America, therefore, declared war on 18 June 1812.
If they had just waited a few weeks – the average length of a baseball game – they would have known that the war was completely unnecessary. Because Lord Liverpool had just become Prime Minister and had moved to end the conscription of Americans into the Navy.
In fact, he ordered the police to end the very day before the Americans declared war. But news of it only reached America a few weeks later, by which time hostilities had begun, not to end for years. Equally pointless, and for just the same reason, was the final battle of the war.
The Battle of New Orleans took place on 8 January 1815, even though a peace treaty between Britain and America had been signed three weeks beforehand. It was simply that the two armies hadn’t heard about it yet. About 400 men perished in the battle. Britain’s war effort was aided by the service of General William Hull.
However the War of 1812 nominally on the American side, Hull’s orders could well be taken as working to the distinct advantage of the Europeans. It wasn’t entirely his fault when asked to become the Governor of Michigan and command the left flank of the US invasion of Canada, which was part of the American plan, he protested that, at 58, he was too old.
President Madison talked him around, though, and Hull agreed to the jaunt. And he cannot be accused of going at it half-heartedly – he threw himself into it, even taking his daughter and grandchildren with him on the 200-mile march from Cincinnati to Detroit, through hostile Indian country, with 1,500 militia and no road.
Averaging just three miles per day, it was very slow going. Things took a turn for the worse when he reached the Maumee River, which meets Lake Erie, and spotted a boat. With a stroke of genius, he requisitioned it to carry the officers’ luggage, which included the full muster rolls, containing details of his forces’ strength, and his battle plans and orders.
To save time, he put all the luggage on the boat and sent it up to Detroit, where he planned to recover it. When the British forces stopped the boat a few miles upriver. They were therefore quite pleased to find everything they needed to defeat Hull. It might be unfair to blame Hull entirely for this lack of guard, given the fact that at that point he didn’t know if America and Britain were at war (they were, but no one had told him that).
Hence, the notification that war had been declared had been sent to him by the government. But dispatched through the normal postal service to the post office at Cleveland, with the request ‘please forward’ written upon the letter. Surprisingly, it did reach him, but just after his ship had – literally – sailed.
No doubt he was left on the dock, hysterically waving his hat at its retreating stern. After the debacle he withdrew to Detroit, where he spent four days locked in his bedroom, not speaking to anyone. Read More – ARGY-BARGY – Argentine’s Falklands War of 1982
Originally posted 2020-01-18 12:37:22.