Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812

Overview

Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was our "most unmilitary war," fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. American soil was invaded along three frontiers, thte nation's capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a possibility. In Amateurs, to Arms! distinguished military historian Colonel John R. Elting shows how the young republic fought and almost lost its "Second War for ...

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Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812

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Overview

Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was our "most unmilitary war," fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. American soil was invaded along three frontiers, thte nation's capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a possibility. In Amateurs, to Arms! distinguished military historian Colonel John R. Elting shows how the young republic fought and almost lost its "Second War for Independence," and how it was saved by the handful of amateur soldiers and sailors who survived, masters their deadly new professions, and somehow battled Great Britain to a standstill along our wilderness borders and on the high seas.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No other conflict in our history found us so unready or ill-prepared as the War of 1812, argues Elting, who here presents the military side of the war and emphasizes the amateurishness of the Americans who managed to win their ``Second War of Independence'' despite themselves. Tactical victories, few and far between, made the difference in the end: Oliver Perry's destruction of a British squadron on Lake Erie in 1813, William Henry Harrison's defeat of a British column the following year at the Battle of the Thames. Ironically, the most celebrated clash of the war, Andrew Jackson's 1815 victory at New Orleans, took place two weeks after the signing of the peace treaty at Ghent in Belgium. Elting ( The Superstrategists ) tells the story from the British side as well as the American. He includes a memorable account of the expedition under Robert Ross that won an easy victory over the Americans at Bladensburg, Va., then captured Washington, burning the Capitol and the White House, only to suffer a surprising defeat before Baltimore. This is a lively, well-written account of one of America's long-forgotten, but decidedly major wars. Illustrations. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Having reduced the U.S. Army during the Jefferson administration, the new nation was totally ill-equipped for the war it would wage against British troops in 1812. Plagued with inexperienced recruits, politicians as officers, and a sometimes unsupportive government, the success of the war seemed almost impossible. Elting handles all of these aspects in a manner that would appeal to the general reader of history as well as to the military statistician. Insight into the battles and the leaders is often provided in great detail, and interesting information is also indicated in the footnotes. This book, coupled with J.C.A. Stagg's Mr. Madison's War LJ 9/1/83, provides a complete overview of the politics and logistics of the war. With so few books written on the War of 1812, this is essential for any public or academic library.-- Barbara Zaborowski, Cambria Cty. Lib., Johnstown, Pa.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Colonel John R. Elting was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1911 and graduated from Stanford University and the Colorado State College of Education. A professional soldier for much of his life, he retired from the United States Army in 1968. He has written and edited numerous books on military history.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2010

    WELL DONE!

    I was sorry to find he is no longer with us because he has an ability to make a subject interesting and show the humor that I haven't seen in many other military authors. I look forward to reading others by him!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2006

    HISTORY WITH AN EDGE

    As part of my research for a novel, I have studied numerous books about the War of 1812. There are several excellent books that cover the whole war, but Amateurs to Arms! stands out as my favorite. The title fairly depicts the author¿s approach to the subject. But after all, without an adequate army or navy, and without adequate fortifications or funds, the States declared war on the mightiest military power in the world. For readers in need of only one book about the War of 1812, or in need of a book to get a good overview before delving into more detailed coverage, I whole-heartedly recommend Amateurs to Arms!

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