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Amateurs, To Arms!: A Military History Of The War Of 1812
     

Amateurs, To Arms!: A Military History Of The War Of 1812

by John R. Elting
 

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Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. The odds against the American fighting forces—woefully unrealistic preparations and expectations, British military might, a feckless Congress and administration, the treason of many citizens who

Overview


Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. The odds against the American fighting forces—woefully unrealistic preparations and expectations, British military might, a feckless Congress and administration, the treason of many citizens who fed and praised the enemy—were overwhelming. American soil was invaded along three frontiers, the national capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a definite possibility. Amateurs, to Arms! examines in succession the campaigns of "Mr. Madison's War": the U.S. invasion of Canada; the key naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain; the British invasion via the Chesapeake Bay and its repulse at Baltimore; and the campaign leading to the American victory at New Orleans, fought and won after the war was over. Elting describes the planning and preparations (or lack of them) for the campaigns, tells how they were fought, and analyzes the battlefield performance of both sides. Specially prepared maps and numerous illustrations complement Elting's vivid, penetrating account of how the young republic fought and nearly lost its "Second War for Independence."

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306806537
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
08/21/1995
Series:
Major Battles and Campaigns Series
Edition description:
1st Da Capo Press ed
Pages:
372
Sales rank:
670,619
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.42(h) x 1.09(d)

Meet the Author


Colonel John R. Elting has edited and written numerous books on military history, including Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812 and A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars.

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