War of 1812 Military Campaigns: British Central Offensive


Figure 1.--

The British used the Royal Navy to launch a central campaign with the objective of seizing Baltimore, a major port at the time. It also gave them the opportunity to attack Washington. One historian writes, "August 24, 1814, began as a typical summer day in Washington: bright and cloudless, promising heat and humidity as the day wore on. For years, James Madisin, the president, had fled high summer in Washington and other loy-lying cities for the chealthier air of his inland home in the Virginia Piedmont. But this August his presence was required in the capital. America had been at war with Britain for two years. Mr. Madison's War--he had asked Congress to declare it--had been fought along the Canadian border; against Indians on the frontier; on the high seas. Now the war was coming home." [Brookhiser] American resistance to the diversionary attack was embarassingly weak. Most of the American Army was in the north along the Canadian border. When Red Coats advanced on the militia at Bladensburg, they broke and ran (August 24). The British then marched into Washington, D.C. and burned most of the public buildings. Private property was fgor the modt part left intouched, President Madison had to flee into the countryside. Dolly save the invaluable portrait of George Washington. The British then began the attack on Baltimore, their principal objective. Here For McHenry survived an intense naval bombardment. Lawyer Francis Scott Key on a British ship penned the "Star-Spangled Banner". The major outcome of the fighting around Baltimore and Washingtom was to convince the Democratic Republicans that America needed a professional army. Jefferson and other Republicans were afraid of a professional army and navy. They tried to prevent the creation of a navy and for an army wanted to rely primarily on civilian militias. The Battle of Bladensburg showed that militias could not be relied upon to confront bprofessiinal military forces. As President, Jefferson had signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy (1802). It was not until the War Of 1812, however, that Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, the 'father of the Military Academy' began go turn West Point into a serious military training institution.

Washington

The British used the Royal Navy to launch a central campaign with the objective of seizing Baltimore, a major port at the time. It also gave them the opportunity to attack Washington. One historian writes, "August 24, 1814, began as a typical summer day in Washington: bright and cloudless, promising heat and humidity as the day wore on. For years, James Madisin, the president, had fled high summer in Washington and other loy-lying cities for the chealthier air of his inland home in the Virginia Piedmont. But this August his presence was required in the capital. America had been at war with Britain for two years. Mr. Madison's War--he had asked Congress to declare it--had been fought along the Canadian border; against Indians on the frontier; on the high seas. Now the war was coming home." [Brookhiser] American resistance to the diversionary attack was embarassingly weak. Most of the American Army was in the north along the Canadian border. When Red Coats advanced on the militia at Bladensburg, they broke and ran (August 24). The British then marched into Washington, D.C. and burned most of the public buildings. Private property was fgor the modt part left intouched, President Madison had to flee into the countryside. Dolly save the invaluable portrait of George Washington. A Britih squadron also approached Washington sailong up the Potomac. "From Capitol Hill, they saw another result of last night's explosion: No longer threatened by the guns at Fort Warburton, the Brirish hd sailed north .... A soyglass view afirmed a still more ominous fct: the flotilla of British ships coming into view included two frigates. The HMS Seahorseand the HMS Eurylus, thirty-eight and thirty-six guns, rspectfully, were accompnied by three bomb-ships that carried two mortars each,along with a rocket vessel, the Erebus. The cpital had alrady been visitd by an invading army; now a heavily armed naval force capable of a massive bombbardment was within siight." [Howard]

Baltimore

The British then began the attack on Baltimore, their principal objective. Here For McHenry survived an intense naval bombardment. Lawyer Francis Scott Key on a British ship penned the "Star-Spangled Banner".

Professional Military

The major outcome of the fighting around Baltimore and Washingtom was to convince the Democratic Republicans that America needed a professional army. Jefferson and other Republicans were afraid of a professional army and navy. They tried to prevent the creation of a navy and for an army wanted to rely primarily on civilian militias. The Battle of Bladensburg showed that militias could not be relied upon to confront bprofessiinal military forces. As President, Jefferson had signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy (1802). It was not until the War Of 1812, however, that Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, the 'father of the Military Academy' began go turn West Point into a serious military training institution.

Sources

Brookhiser, Richard. James Madison (2011).

Howard, Hugh. Mr. and Mrs. Madison's War: America's First Couple and the Second War of Independence (2011).





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Created: 4:49 AM 2/26/2012
Last updated: 2:42 AM 1/14/2013