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Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's Most Decisive Battle

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A major event in both America's history and the European wars of the nineteenth century, the War of 1812's Battle of Plattsburgh saw the largest invasion ever of a foreign military into the United States, as the British army and navy, fresh from victories against Napoleon, attempted to conquer Lake Champlain and its shores. Their plan was to seize control of key waterways and port cities, a move that would cripple America's defenses. Outnumbered and outgunned, the U. S. land and sea forces fought the British ...
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The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's Most Decisive Battle

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Overview

A major event in both America's history and the European wars of the nineteenth century, the War of 1812's Battle of Plattsburgh saw the largest invasion ever of a foreign military into the United States, as the British army and navy, fresh from victories against Napoleon, attempted to conquer Lake Champlain and its shores. Their plan was to seize control of key waterways and port cities, a move that would cripple America's defenses. Outnumbered and outgunned, the U. S. land and sea forces fought the British ships and troops to a standstill, allowing the leader of the American fleet, Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough, to carry out a brilliant maneuver which ensured an American victory. Author Fitz-Enz researched and produced a companion PBS documentary that examined the leaders on both sides of the conflict and their actions during the battle. His research brought to light numerous documents, including diaries and secret battle orders, that reveal new insights into the battle. His descriptions of the confrontation in the pages of The Final Invasion bring to vivid life the cannon blasts that tore through ships and their crews and the rush of infantry storming the fortifications around the city. Endorsed by the U. S. Army War College, The Final Invasion is a thrilling look at a pivotal moment in American and world history.
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Editorial Reviews

Military Heritage
Fitz-Enz's research has produced illuminating documents, including diaries and secret battle orders, revealing new insights into the battle. This is one of the best books on the War of 1812 currently available.
Vice Admiral James F. Calvert
The Final Invasion is a splendid account of one of the pivotal battles in American history. The books is thoroughly researched and beautifully told. Author Colonel Fitz-Enz relates, in exciting prose, this effort on the part of the British to recapture their priceless North American colonies lost in the Revolutionary War. The story of the battle between the English and American fleets on Lake Champlain in 1814 is a breathtaking blow-by-blow account, bringing out the horror of ship-to-ship encounters in that day.
James C. Bradford
Colonel David Fitz-Enz has produced what will long stand as the standard account of one of the least known but most decisive military campaigns in American history. Though overshadowed by the burning of Washington, DC, and Jackson's defeat of the British at New Orleans, it was the 1814 campaign in upstate New York that determined the outcome of the War of 1812. During exhaustive research Fitz-Enz uncovered in Portugal a copy of orders sent to Sir George Prevost which lead to judgements much kinder to Sir George Prevost than those of many previous historians. Drawing on his experience as a soldier and a thorough understanding of the setting, both on land and of the nature of Lake Champlain, Fitz-Enz has produced a clear narrative that brings to life the people and events of September 1814 like never before.
John W. Foss
David Fitz-Enz has written a wonderful book on one of the more important but less well-known battles of our country. It tells a compelling story of how a few soldiers and sailors of our new nation defeated the best professionals of the British Army, fresh from defeating Napoleon.
Paddy Griffith
An admirably well-researched and complete account of the Plattsburgh campaign, which has waited for such treatment for far too long.
Book Review Digest - Samuel Watson
Smoothly Written, well-researched, and comprehensive in approach and scope, The Final Invasion has much to commend and little to question.
Book Review Digest
Smoothly Written, well-researched, and comprehensive in approach and scope, The Final Invasion has much to commend and little to question.
— Samuel Watson
History Teacher
Fitz-Enz provides a stirring narrative of the two-hour slugfest that was the Battle of Plattsburgh Bay.
Tulsa World
Here is a carefully researched military history book that will rock you back on your heels and make you edit some of your assertions about past invasions of the United States.
Library Journal
Former army officer Fitz-Enz (Why a Soldier?) examines the battle at Plattsburgh, which occurred when the British were attempting to reconquer the young United States by moving south from Canada through Lake Champlain in an attempt to cut off Maine from the rest of the country. The U.S. Army was small and led by incompetent officers, and the militia was generally useless Vermont troops would not leave Vermont and New York State troops would not leave the Empire State. The American campaigns of 1812, 1813, and 1814 had been utterly chaotic, as the British troops were well-trained veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. The U.S. Navy, however, was led by a brilliant officer, Thomas Macdonough, who inspired his men to build a superior squadron of small ships. After desperate fighting, they finally defeated the British fleet at Plattsburgh in August 1814. Fitz-Enz claims that this battle was the key to the War of 1812 and in fact far more important than Oliver Hazard Perry's victory at Lake Erie, though Perry is remembered and Macdonough's triumph is unjustly forgotten. A highly readable work that serves as a companion book to the PBS documentary and should be in every U.S. history collection. Stanley L. Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815411390
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Colonel David G. Fitz-Enz was a regular U. S. Army officer for thirty years, who helped set up and maintain the White House-Moscow "hot line." He is also the author of Why A Soldier?. He retired in 1993, and lives near Plattsburgh, New York.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2009

    Some good research with errors.

    Before I go negative on the book, let me say that it is useful for the reader knowledgeable on the war or the novice historian that just wants to know something about it. The former because of the reproduced orders and reports.

    The Colonel's (since military titles are pushed as a selling point) major project is a film documentary for which this is the written research. Because of that, the book spends a great many pages educating the reader not familiar with the war. The Colonel's greatest achievement is in finding a copy of the order to General Prevost to start an offensive. This is priceless, without it the book would be just another rehash of a battle covered in dozens of other books. The order stated to make limited gains on the northern front in order to end the war with some positive gains for the crown. Unfortunately, the book hints in more than one place that the offensive was the D-Day into the US - good discussion for old colonels and playing up the book, but not the true purpose for the battle. The conquest of half of the US (at that time) and New England choosing to go back to the crown is just fluff to sell the film and book. In fact, Lord Wellington turned down commanding the offensive because he knew it would fail.
    The errors I refer to tend to taint the Colonel's other research as to what is true. A historian knowledgeable on the war can sift the facts from fantasy and opinions. The Colonel writes the US used the "model 1775" musket. There was no such weapon and I believe he means they used weapons dating from 1775. In fact, the premier musket was the Charleville model 1783. He also writes the British were well trained by Von Steuben's "Blue Book." I thought Steuben was with us in the Revolution and wrote that book for us - huh? A lot is written about the Congreve Rocket in the text, yet it plays no major part in the battle. Then he adds another page of rocket details in a separate appendix. Why not put all the rocket stuff in the appendix or vice-versa - save the paper or tie it into the tactics and battle. The softcover has no maps, yet an appendix gives a full compositon of the forces. Composition without a disposition of forces on the battlefield (i.e. map showing where they were) is a "cardinal sin" in writing about a battle. Perhaps, I am supposed to watch the film for these details. If the hardcover has map, I take it back, but shame on someone because my copy has no maps. Unfortunately, no DVD comes with the book to watch the film for visuals. The list of minor research errors goes on.
    I would expect a book edited by Colonel Elting, introduced by Colonel Jablonski of the US Army War College and with some excellent research by Colonel Fitz-Enz would not make such silly minor errors. See what I mean about stacking the deck with Colonels, which does not compensate for basic errors. Could some of the errors be bigger?

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