The War of 1812 lasted from the American declaration of war on Great Britain in June 1812 to the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent in February 1815.
Each article in our Then & Now Journal consists of two parts. The “Then” portion describes events of the war in the same two-month time frame as 200 years ago. The “Now” portion highlights existing memorials, museums, battlefields, fortifications and other sites as well as various commemorative events. Space does not permit us to list every event, and so we encourage you to investigate what may be happening in your area or any event that may be of interest.
Sept. 1: 2,000 British troops under Nova Scotia Lieutenant-Governor Lieutenant-General Sir John Sherbrooke bloodlessly occupy Castine and Belfast, Maine, at mouth of Penobscot River and establish headquarters at Castine; smaller force sails to Hampden, 50 kilometres up river, where frigate USS Adams is undergoing repairs; Gov.-in-Chief Lt.-Gen. Sir George Prevost leads 10,350 regular soldiers across border, south towards Plattsburg, N.Y., garrisoned by 3,000 mostly militia soldiers; construction begins on Penetang Road, Upper Canada, connecting Pentanguishene with Barrie and York (Toronto); sloop-of-war USS Wasp sinks brigs Mary and HMS Avonin North Atlantic.
Sept. 2: Captain George Downie arrives at Fort Lennox on Île-au- Noix to take command of British Lake Champlain squadron.
Sept. 3: British troops land five kilometres below Hampden and defeat 1,400 hastily-assembled militiamen; American sailors burn Adams to prevent her capture; British continue up river to Bangor, accept surrender of town and return to Hampden; British sailors and Canadian soldiers from Nottawasaga Bay capture schooner USS Tigress on Lake Huron and rename her HMS Surprize; two days later they capture schooner USS Scorpionand rename her HMS Confiance; both ships taken to Fort Mackinac.
Sept. 4: British and American naval forces prepare for battle on Lake Champlain, near Plattsburg; U.S. Secretary of War John Armstrong resigns because of failure to prepare Washington against British attack.
Sept. 4-5: British artillery and some 1,000 native Allies skirmish with 334 American troops under future president Major Zachary Taylor at Credit Island, Il., forcing Americans to retreat downstream and relinquish control of Upper Mississippi; Taylor’s men subsequently construct Fort Cap au Gris near St. Louis, Mo., and Fort Johnson at junction of Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers.
Sept. 5: America forces skirmish with British squadron on Potomac River at Indian Head, Md.
Sept. 6: British troops depart Belfast and return to Castine; British soldiers marching towards Plattsburg engage in several skirmishes with Americans near Beekmantown, N.Y., forcing them to withdraw towards Plattsburg; British enter Plattsburg that night; Prevost halts to await word on status of British squadron.
Sept. 9: British troops depart Hampden and return to Castine; other British soldiers depart Castine to capture Machias.
Sept. 10: HMS St. Lawrence launched at Kingston Naval Dockyard, but too late for action.
Sept. 11: British capture Fort O’Brian, Me. and occupy nearby Machias; American ships repulse British squadron on Lake Champlain; Prevost cancels army attack and retreats from Plattsburg; Americans secure northern border.
Sept. 12: Prevost’s expedition marches back to Canada; British land 6,000 men at North Point to capture Baltimore from the east; British commander Maj.-Gen. Robert Ross is killed by sniper, demoralizing his soldiers; Colonel Arthur Brooke assumes command and continues advance towards Baltimore; USS Wasp scuttles brig Three Brothers; two days later sinks brig Bacchus.
Sept. 12-16: British fail to capture Fort Bowyer and are repulsed by Americans at Mobile Bay, Ala.; British decide to attack New Orleans instead.
Sept. 13-15: Royal Navy ships bombard Fort McHenry protecting river approach to Baltimore; lawyer Francis Scott Key is inspired by sight of British mortars and rockets to write “Star Spangled Banner;” Brooke’s attack on Baltimore fails; repulsed on land and sea, British sail away; Ross’s body is shipped to Halifax.
Sept. 17: American forces under Maj.-Gen. Jacob Brown besieged in Fort Erie by British soldiers launch successful sortie against Lt.-Gen. Gordon Drummond’s three bombardment batteries, capturing two; Americans lose 500 casualties, British, 600.
Sept. 21:Sherbrooke proclaims capture of all American territory from New Brunswick border to Penobscot River, annexes it to New Brunswick as New Ireland and appoints military governor; Drummond ends siege of Fort Erie and retreats to Chippawa; USS Wasp captures brig HMS Atalanta.
Sept. 26: Royal Navy squadron battles American privateer General Armstrongin Fayal, Azores; after short, sharp fight Americans scuttle their ship.
Sept. 27: President James Madison appoints Secretary of State James Monroe as secretary of war.
Sept. 29: Ross is buried with full military honours, Old Burying Ground, Halifax, N.S.
Oct. 5: Maj.-Gen. George Izard arrives at Fort Erie with 6,300 soldiers to relieve Brown; learns Drummond has only 2,500 men and marches north against him.
Oct. 9: USS Wasp lost at sea.
Oct. 15: Izard skirmishes with Drummond at Chippawa and establishes camp at Street’s Creek; discovers Americans have lost control of Lake Ontario.
Oct. 17: U.S. treasury secretary asks Congress to increase taxes and to establish national bank to finance the war.
Oct. 18: Massachusetts calls for a convention of New England states whose livelihood depends on British trade to co-ordinate regional grievances against federal government.
Oct. 19: 750 British soldiers and Canadian militiamen attack 1,200-man American force from Fort Erie at Cook’s Mills (near Welland) on Lyons Creek, Upper Canada; British-Canadian force withdraws and Americans return to Fort Erie; British raid Castle Haven, Md.
Late October: Fort Johnson abandoned.
Oct. 21: Izard returns to Fort Erie; British negotiators at Ghent offer peace on the basis of uti posseditis (“as you possess,” i.e., retain what is held at cessation of hostilities).
Oct. 22: Treaty of Commerce between U.S. and Britain signed at Ghent.
Oct. 26: 700-man American cavalry force under Brigadier-Gen. Duncan McArthur leaves Detroit and advances rapidly on 250-kilometre raid through Thames Valley, Upper Canada, catching Canadian militia unawares.
Oct. 27: British raid Tracy’s Landing, Md.; skirmish with American forces.
Oct. 31: British raid St. Inigoe’s, Md.
Sept. 6-7: 200th anniversary of Battle of North Point, Fort Howard Park, Baltimore, Md.; War of 1812 re-enactment, Backus Heritage Conservation Area, Port Rowan, Ont.
Sept. 10-16: Star Spangled Spectacular, Baltimore, Md.
Sept. 11-13: 1812 Festival, Fort Willow, Minesing, Ont.
Sept. 12-14: 200th anniversary of Battle of Baltimore and Fort McHenry spectacular, Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Md.; 200th anniversary of Battle of Plattsburgh, Plattsburg, N.Y.
Sept. 14: 200th anniversary memorial service for burial of Maj.-Gen. Robert Ross, Old Burying Ground, Halifax, N.S.
Sept. 20-21: 1812 Weekend, Fort Wayne, Detroit, Mich.
Sept. 27: Bi-national Peace Celebration, noon to 4 p.m., Old Fort Erie, Ont.
Oct. 4-5: McArthur’s Raid re-enactment, Fanshawe Pioneer Village, London, Ont.
Oct. 10-12: Battle of Mississinewa commemoration, Mississinewa Battlefield, Marion, Ind.
Oct. 18-19: 200th anniversary of Battle of Cook’s Mills, Welland, Ont.
Oct. 25-26: 28th Annual Fall Muster, Fort Osage, Sibley, Mo.