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(1800-1860) Pre-American Civil War Battles
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George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/6/2019 2:19:00 PM

When the Americans invaded Upper Canada in 1812, both sides endeavoured to convince the locals, most of whom had come north from the US to be loyal to them. The Americans sought to have the Canadians, including the large number of French-Canadians living along the Detroit River to join with American ex-pats to defeat the British and to be welcomed into the fold of their US brothers. The Americans initially did not ask for military assistance but did ask for everyone to stay out of their way.

Gen. Isaac Brock was very fearful that the former residents of the US who had come to Upper Canada for land, would aid and abet any American invasion force.

Trying to get ahead of the matter, Gen. Brock issued a proclamation on this date in 1812, anticipating an invasion.

I often wonder how many people could actually read these lengthy proclamations.

July 6, 1812 Brock's Proclamation

Quote:

Province of Upper Canada.
Isaac Brock, Esquire, President, administering the Government of the Province of Upper Canada, and Major-General commanding his Majesty's Forces within our said Province.

To all whom these Presents shall come, greetings.

Whereas on the seventeenth day of June last the congress of the United States of America declared that war then existed between those States and their territories, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dependencies thereof; and whereas, in pursuance of such declaration, the subjects of the United States have actually committed hostilities against the possessions of his majesty and the persons and property of his subjects in this province: now, therefore, by and with the advice of his majesty's executive council in the affairs of the province, I do hereby strictly enjoin and require all his majesty's liege subjects to be obedient to the lawful authorities, to forbear all communication with the enemy or persons residing within the territory of the United States, and to manifest their loyalty by a zealous co-operation with his majesty's armed force in defence of the province, and repulse of the enemy.

And I do further require and command all officers, civil and military, to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty, especially to prevent all communication with the enemy, and to cause all persons suspected of traitorous intercourse to be apprehended and treated according to law.

Given under my hand and seal at arms, at York, in the province of Upper Canada, this sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twelve, and in the fiftysecond of his majesty's reign.

ISAAC BROCK, President. By command of his honor,
William Jarvis, Secretary.


So this was an exhortation to do one's duty and a hint at retribution should one decide to be traitorous.


Six days later on the 12th of July, the American forces under an aging revolutionary warhorse, Gen. Hull, crossed into Upper Canada and seized small villages on the British side of the Detroit River.

And Hull felt compelled to issue his own Proclamation to the people of Upper Canada. He did so in English and in French. His proclamation was an appeal to join the country that only wished to free them from the bondage evident in their association with Great Britain. And just like Brock, Hull hinted at retribution should any citizens of Upper Canada take up arms against the invading US army and cautioned against any white man who fought alongside an Indian that he would pay the ultimate penalty.

Hull's letter to the people of Upper Canada

A PROCLAMATION INHABITANTS of CANADA!

Quote:
After thirty years of PEACE & prosperity, the UNITED STATES have been driven to Arms. The injuries & aggressions, the insults & indignities of Great Britain have once more left them no alternative but manly resistance or unconditional submission.

The ARMY under my command, has invaded your country, & the Standard of the UNION now waves over the Territory of CANADA. To the peaceable unoffending inhabitant, it brings neither danger nor difficulty. I come to find enemies, not to snake them. I come to protect, not to injure you.

Separated by an immense Ocean, & an extensive Wilderness from Great Britain, you have no participation in her Counsels, no interest in her conduct. You have felt her Tyrany, you have seen her injustice, but I do not ask you to avenge the one or to redress the other. The UNITED STATES are sufficiently powerful to afford you every security, consistent with their rights, & your expectations.
I tender you the invaluable blessings of Civil, Political & Religious Liberty & their necessary result, individual and general prosperity; That Liberty which gave decision to our counsels and energy to our conduct, in our struggle for INDEPENDENCE, and which conducted as safely and triumphantly, thro' the stormy period of the Revolution. That Liberty which has raised us to an elevated rank among the Nations of the world, and which has afforded us a greater measure of PEACE and security, of wealth and improvement than ever fell to the lot of any people.

In the name of my Country and by the authority of my Government, I promise you protection to your persons, property and rights. Remain at your homes. Pursue your peaceful and customary avocations. Raise not your hands against your brethren.

Many of your fathers fought for the freedom & INDEPENDENCE we now enjoy. Being children therefore of the same family with us, and heirs to the same heritage, the arrival of an Army of friends, must be hailed by you with a cordial welcome.

You will be emancipated from Tyrany and oppression and restored to the dignified station of freemen. Had I any doubt of eventual success, I might ask you assistance, but I do not. I come prepared for every contingency. I have a force which will look down all opposition, & that force is but the vanguard of a much greater. If contrary to your own interest, and the just expectation of my Country, you should take part in the approaching contest, you will be considered & treated as enemies, & the horrors & calamities of war will stalk before you.

If the barbarous & savage policy of Great Britain be pursued, and the savages are let loose to murder our citizens, & butcher our women and children, the war, will be a war of extermination.

The first stroke of the Tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping knife, will be the signal for one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian, will be taken prisoner. Instant destruction will be his lot. If the dictates of reason, duty, justice and humanity cannot prevent the employment of a force which respects no rights, & knows no wrong, it will be prevented by a severe and relentless system of retaliation.

I doubt not your courage and firmness: I will not doubt your attachment to Liberty. If you tender your services voluntarily, they will be accepted readily.

The UNITED STATES offer you peace, liberty and security. Your choice lies between these & WAR, slavery, and destruction. Choose then, but choose wisely; and may he who knows the justice of our cause; and who holds in his hand the fate of NATIONS, guide you to a result the most compatible with your rights and interest, your PEACE and prosperity.


Gen. Hull apparently had a great fear of Indians and when Gen. Brock and Tecumseh attacked Fort Detroit in August, Gen. Hull became dysfunctional. There weren't that many Indians but Tecumseh kept marching them in front of Fort Detroit, looping them through the woods, only to parade once more in front of the US forces. US soldiers and especially officers were astounded and angry when he surrendered. They said that he was sitting in a room, inconsolable and practically frothing at the mouth in fear. He was described as being catatonic. Poor "Granny" Hull as the men called him. He had served his country so well in the Revolution but was now well past his prime. It would take a couple of years for the US to weed out these old timers and to train a very professional army that compared favourably with the British regulars.

Long post I know but I love these documents that give us some insight into the thoughts of the participants.



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john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 613

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/6/2019 9:05:22 PM

I think Gen Brock's fears were missed placed. Most of the Americans that fled the US during the Revolution were Loyalists and had lost every thing. They had no love for any thing American. I would be very surprised if many raised a finger to support an invasion. Gen Hull seemed very naive to believe that the same people who left or were forced out of the US would rise up in support
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/6/2019 10:47:41 PM

Quote:
I think Gen Brock's fears were missed placed. Most of the Americans that fled the US during the Revolution were Loyalists and had lost every thing. They had no love for any thing American. I would be very surprised if many raised a finger to support an invasion. Gen Hull seemed very naive to believe that the same people who left or were forced out of the US would rise up in support


Hi John,

There was another wave of Americans who came north well after the Revolution.

We call them the "late Loyalists".

The Loyalists who came during the Revolution and especially immediately after are the United Empire Loyalists and these people would be expected to be loyal to the crown as you say. They arrived up to 1783. These are the people who were permitted to add the letter, "UE" after their names by Lord Dorchester, in 1789. It stands for, "Unity of Empire".

However, the area that became called Upper Canada did not receive many Loyalists when compared to what became Lower Canada (Quebec) and especially the maritime colonies which received the bulk of the Loyalists.

The second wave of Americans were seeking inexpensive or free land in the British colonies. The governing bodies of Upper Canada wanted these Americans even though they had been the enemy, not so long ago. There was a desire to encourage English speaking immigration to balance the population against the large French population in Quebec.

"Late Loyalists" are not honoured with any letters after their name. The term was coined to separate the loyal Americans leaving because of the Revolution and those who came for land. They were mostly farmers and trades people.

Upper Canada was a sparsely populated part of North America but only one generation after 1783, there were an additional 90,000 immigrants, nearly all Americans with a sprinkling of Germans and Brits. It is this group of Americans who concerned Isaac Brock. I read one estimate that said that 80% of the English speakers in Upper Canada in 1812 were American born and most had arrived around 1790 and after.

So Upper Canada, which was only created in 1791 when the colony of Quebec was divided into two political entities, was full of fairly recently arrived Americans who had not fled from the US because they had professed loyalty to the crown. They did however, take an oath of loyalty to the crown in exchange for the land that they received.

There was some collaboration with the Americans. The best example is that of the Canadian Volunteers, led by Joseph Willcocks. It comprised Americans living in Canada and Canadians who sympathized with the Americans. Willcocks was actually a representative in the Upper Canada legislature but he committed treason and had the rank of major in the US forces.

When the war ended, these Canadian Volunteers had to seek refuge in the US where they were given land grants.

[Read More]

The UEL's did not concern Brock. These were the leaders of the province both in business and in government. Some had fought for the British in the Revolution and would fight again in 1812.

I think that Brock was wise to be concerned but in truth, while some American, "late loyalist", settlers did aid the American forces during the War of 1812, most remained neutral. Later in the war when American soldiers invaded again and pillaged and burned their farms, many turned against the soldiers of their old country.

Cheers,

George
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john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 613

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/7/2019 7:09:20 AM

It seems like an old story. Soldiers invade, begin to loot and burn and they drive who were neutral or leaning slightly in their direction over to the over side.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/7/2019 9:15:18 AM

Very true John.

The British, as you know from Revolutionary war history, used pillage and burn of civilian buildings to punish and discourage.

When the Americans burned Newark on the Niagara Peninsula, on December 13 of 1813, one of the ringleaders was traitor Joseph Willcocks of the Canadian Volunteers. Newark was a pleasant little village of no military importance. In fact, it was these CV's, made up of Canadians and Americans living in Canada who did the dirty work. I call them American troops as that is the side that they fought for.

The Canadian Volunteers ordered people out of their homes, in the dead of a cold winter and burned the village to the ground. The British used this event as a propaganda coup and it did not take much to turn the farmers along the peninsula against the Americans as many farms and homes had been destroyed by the American troops.

Much was made of the fact that the US soldiers entered the home of an elderly lady in her sick bed and carried the bed outside into the snow with her in it, and then burned her house down. A newborn baby died from the cold.

[Read More]

It was their final act before retreating across the Niagara River to the US side.

British General Gordon Drummond, who was born in Canada, was furious. He was already angry that the Americans had burned York, now Toronto in April of 1813.
Drummond ordered an immediate retaliation and British troops crossed the Niagara River on Dec. 19, less than a week after the burning of Newark.

They immediately attacked Fort Niagara which guarded Lake Ontario at the point that the Niagara River joined it. The attack was led by Gen. Riall. He continued south and burned the New York villages of Lewiston and Youngstown before returning to Canada.

Drummond wasn't finished. He ordered the troops back to the US on Dec. 30 and 1000 soldiers plus First Nations allies headed south along the US side of the river. They burned Buffalo Creek and then headed for Buffalo proper.

2000 US troops were supposed to engage but the First Nations war whoops frightened them and they took off. Their officers later castigated them for cowardice.

Quote:
“All except very few of them behaved in the most cowardly manner. They fled without discharging a musket.”
. US General Lewis Cass

But another US force did put up a very stiff fight at Black Rock, near Buffalo, when the Royal Scots landed from their boats coming up the Niagara River. The Americans took a heavy toll on the British troops with cannon and musket fire but eventually the Scots prevailed and the Americans retreated to Buffalo.

Unfortunately, US General McClure abandoned the city of Buffalo and what ensued was not pretty.
Buffalo was a large and important town overlooking Lake Erie and the Niagara River.
It was burned to the ground and some people stood and watched which was a mistake. Most fled on horses and sleds and wagons, but when it was all over, there were 13 dead bodies that had been tomahawked and scalped.

Buffalo was a town of 150 buildings and only a couple were left standing including the stone built jail and a blacksmith shop.

Lt. Gen. George Prevost, the British commander of North American forces expressed his regret but laid the blame squarely at the feet of his enemy.

In his proclamation, he said:
Quote:
I regret that: “the miseries inflicted upon the inhabitants of Newark had made the action necessary. This departure from the established usages of war has originated with America herself and that to her alone are justly chargeable all the awful and unhappy consequences.



Non-combattants on both sides suffered during this nasty little war.

Cheers,

George
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john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 613

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/7/2019 4:01:29 PM

The fighting along the border was intense esp. along the Niagara. It seems the destruction of Buffalo was in response to Newark. An eye for an eye and understandable in war.
Cockburn's burning of Washington seems to be a reach tho.He claimed he was justified because of the burning of York. He also promised to burn Baltimore and let his men run riot in Hampton.
Didn't Wellington react in the negative to Cockburn's actions but said nothing in regards to the burnings along the Niagara?
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/7/2019 5:08:40 PM

York or Toronto is my home town and the history curriculum in Ontario tells us that the Americans burned government offices and a schooner under construction in the harbour. Why they even took our library books though when the local minister complained, the US officer commanding did find the books and returned them. Of course, the US lost Gen. Pike when the British blew the magazine blockhouse. So it seemed like a big deal. And the US returned later in the war to hit York again.

The story is that the torching of the White House was because of the burning of York. But I am not so sure. The events on the Niagara Peninsula were far more egregious.

I wasn't aware that Wellington was critical of Cockburn's actions in Washington. I was aware that he wanted no part of an assignment to command in North America nor did he feel that the British had done enough to be able to claim any US territory even though they did occupy parts of Maine.

Incidentally, was the location of Washington the first choice for the capital? I wondered because Ottawa, our capital was an out of the way, backwater. I think that it was a compromise choice so that the English and the French sides would not complain about the location.

Was the location of Washington a popular choice?

EDIT: I wanted to mention that Wellington was asked to assess the defensive preparedness of Canada for any subsequent attacks from the US. He wrote an 8 page memorandum in 1819 and the defensive measures adopted included:

- abandoning attempts to dominate the Great Lakes. This despite his belief that the War of 1812 could not have been won without dominance of those lakes
-building canals to effect troop and supply movement
-the construction of three great citadels and many minor military installations to be built over a 40 year span.

Wellington actually was the overseer of the beginning of these defensive measures when he became Master General of the Ordnance.

Last point: Wellington was very critical of George Prevost who had botched the Battle of Lake Champlain (Plattsburgh) in Sept. of 1814. Had the lake battle been won, Prevost would have continued to New York City but the US navy won the lake battle. Prevost retreated. Wellington agreed when asked, that Prevost should be replaced though he did say that when the lake battle was lost, that Prevost had no option but to retreat.

Still looking for a Wellington comment about the burning of Washington.

EDIT: The burning of Washington may not have been as disproportionate a response as one would think. York was the capital "city" of the colony of Upper Canada and when the Americans attacked on April 27, 1813, they burned the government buildings.
I realize that Upper Canada was not the same as US which was a multi-state entity but it was a quasi-independent and self governing colony in the British Empire.
So Cockburn's logic may have been sound if it was, "a capital for a capital".



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john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 613

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/7/2019 8:37:08 PM

New York City, Philadelphia Trenton and an unknown southern site were in the running for the US capital. Supposely Madison hosted Hamilton and Jefferson to a working dinner. Hamilton got Jefferson's support for his money plan (debt, National Bank etc) in exchange for the New York delegation not pushing NYC as the capital. Congress approved the southern site with Pres Washington choosing the final site
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/10/2019 6:47:32 AM

Quote:
New York City, Philadelphia Trenton and an unknown southern site were in the running for the US capital. Supposely Madison hosted Hamilton and Jefferson to a working dinner. Hamilton got Jefferson's support for his money plan (debt, National Bank etc) in exchange for the New York delegation not pushing NYC as the capital. Congress approved the southern site with Pres Washington choosing the final site


It all sounds so civilized.

Our selection involved a good deal of squabbling even after Queen Victoria was asked to use the Royal Prerogative and to just select a site for us.

She had already done that once before, prior to Confederation, when the provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were amalgamated into the United Province of Canada. That was 1857 and she selected a logging town of 7500 people called Bytown.
She picked it partly because of the War of 1812. The had indicated the vulnerability of Canadian border cities to attack from the US. But Ottawa was right on the border between Upper Canada and Lower Canada and almost equidistant from Toronto and Montréal. So she picked Ottawa hoping that the French and English divide would be narrowed. It wasn't.

When the Canadas and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick determined to unite, they could not agree on a suitable site for a national capital. Once again, Queen Victoria was asked to exercise the Royal Prerogative and because there was already a rather expensive legislative house in Ottawa that was being used by the United Province of Canada, she picked Ottawa for the national capital of the new Dominion.

That didn't please everyone and so the decision made by the Queen was "set aside" and the four provinces of the new Canada argued for about four years and then picked Ottawa in the end.

Cheers,

George
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john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 613

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/11/2019 4:12:40 PM

Jefferson later claimed that Hamilton dazzled him w/ numbers and double talked about the Bank, stocks, and the debt
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 9912

Battle for hearts and minds during the War of 1812
Posted on: 7/11/2019 7:50:40 PM

Quote:
Jefferson later claimed that Hamilton dazzled him w/ numbers and double talked about the Bank, stocks, and the debt


Was he taking criticism for the recommendation?
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