Defender of Canada: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812

Overview


When war broke out between Great Britain and the United States in 1812, Sir George Prevost, captain general and governor in chief of British North America, was responsible for defending a group of North American colonies that stretched as far as the distance from Paris to Moscow. He also commanded one of the largest British overseas forces during the Napoleonic Wars. Defender of Canada, the first book-length examination of Prevost’s career, offers a reinterpretation of the general’s military leadership in the ...
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Defender of Canada: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812

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Overview


When war broke out between Great Britain and the United States in 1812, Sir George Prevost, captain general and governor in chief of British North America, was responsible for defending a group of North American colonies that stretched as far as the distance from Paris to Moscow. He also commanded one of the largest British overseas forces during the Napoleonic Wars. Defender of Canada, the first book-length examination of Prevost’s career, offers a reinterpretation of the general’s military leadership in the War of 1812. Historian John R. Grodzinski shows that Prevost deserves far greater credit for the successful defense of Canada than he has heretofore received.

Earlier accounts portrayed Prevost as overly cautious and attributed the preservation of Canada to other officers, but Grodzinski challenges these assumptions and restores the general to his rightful place as British North America’s key military figure during the War of 1812. Grodzinski shows that Prevost’s strategic insight enabled him to enact a practicable defense despite scarce resources and to ably integrate naval power into his defensive plans.

Prevost’s range of responsibilities in British North America were daunting. They included overseeing joint endeavors with Indian allies, managing logistical matters, monitoring naval construction and personnel needs, supervising colonial governments, and commanding the defense of Canada. Tasked with protecting an extensive and complex territory, Prevost employed a mix of soldiers, sailors, locally raised forces, and indigenous people in taking advantage of the American military’s weaknesses to defeat most of its plans.

Following his recall to Britain in 1815 after the defeat at the Battle of Plattsburgh, Prevost would have been court-martialed had he not died unexpectedly. In carefully examining the charges leveled against Prevost, Grodzinski shows the general to have preserved the integrity of Canada, allowing diplomats to ensure its continued existence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Prevost’s role as governor general of Canada has long been diminished or underestimated. In this well-written, thoroughly researched account, John R. Grodzinski successfully restores Prevost to his rightful place as British North America’s key military figure during the War of 1812.”—John H. Schroeder, author of Commodore John Rodgers: Paragon of the Early American Navy

“This full-dress study and reassessment of Sir George Prevost is long overdue. John R. Grodzinski does a masterful job of tracing Prevost’s career and demonstrates that this much-maligned leader deserves to be remembered as the savior of Canada.”—Donald R. Hickey, author of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

“Sir George Prevost has had many critics and almost no defenders. In the course of rehabilitating Prevost’s reputation, John R. Grodzinski gives us a fresh, comprehensive analysis of British strategy and policy-making in North America, 1811 to 1815. This book will stand as one of the more significant studies to emerge from the bicentennial of the War of 1812.”—J. C. A. Stagg, author of The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent

“In a major contribution to scholarship, John R. Grodzinski shifts the focus from the drama and glory of battles and campaigns to the higher direction of war. His focus on the combined civil-military command that defeated a succession of American invasions places Sir George Prevost in the wider context of imperial power, and makes a strong case in Prevost’s defense.”—Andrew Lambert, author of The Challenge: Britain against America in the Naval War of 1812

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806143873
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 11/29/2013
  • Series: Campaigns and Commanders Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 540,763
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


John R. Grodzinski is Assistant Professor of History at Royal Military College of Canada and editor of the on-line War of 1812 Magazine. He is the author of The War of 1812: An Annotated Bibliography (Routledge, 2007) and Defender of Canada: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812 (OU Press, 2013).

Military historian Donald E. Graves is the author of several books, including most recently Dragon Rampant: The Royal Welch Fusiliers at War, 1793-1815.

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