Neither Victor nor Vanquished: America in the War of 1812

Neither Victor nor Vanquished: America in the War of 1812

by William Weber


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In 1812, less than forty years after breaking from Britain, the United States found itself in another war with its former colonial master. Now, during the two hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812 comes Neither Victor nor Vanquished, William Weber’s reappraisal of this critical but frequently misunderstood conflict. In the first half of the book, Weber reexamines the war’s military aspects, highlighting the asymmetric nature of the conflict as the world’s foremost naval power with a credible professional army stood against an idealist republic with commercial and agricultural aspirations but without an adequate navy and army. Weber also attempts to recalibrate popular conceptions of the U.S. forces’ generally poor performance during “Mr. Madison’s War,” and frames the War of 1812 in the context of both the Jeffersonian Revolution that preceded the war and the accelerated territorial expansion and consolidation of the United States that eventually led to the American Civil War. The book’s thought-provoking second half presents alternative outcomes for the War of 1812, reminding us that history is made, not predetermined. Various scenarios arise from differences in two key factors—the quality of generalship in both armies and the direction of the Napoleonic Wars, which Britain was simultaneously fighting. Weber imagines a worst case scenario for the young republic, an ending worse than a simple military defeat. Indeed, history might have provided a different answer to Francis Scott Key’s central question, “O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” A final what-if explores a nineteenth-century America that chooses to avoid the War of 1812 and, consequently, the rise of Andrew Jackson.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612346076
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

WILLIAM WEBER is a retired intelligence analyst with extensive experience in political-military and strategic issues. He holds a PhD and a master’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and taught political science at James Madison University. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

1 The Need for New Narratives 1

2 A Classical View of the Military Balance in the War of 1812 25

3 Invasions of 1814 and 1863 47

4 The Men Who Governed America during the War of 1812 73

5 Dueling Narratives: Henry Adams's Alternative History of the War of 1812 99

6 The Battle of Bladensburg: Could Washington Have Been Saved? 121

7 Victory or Defeat, and for Whom? Alternative Outcomes for the War of 1812 143

8 A Worst-Case Scenario for the War of 1812 167

9 What if the War of 1812 Had Never Occurred? 185

Chronology 205

Notes 211

Bibliographic Note and Sources 223

Index 233

About the Author 243

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