Fighting the Battles

The fighting in the War of1812 raged from Canada to the American capital, from inland lakes to the Atlantic, from the eastern seaboard to the western frontier. It drew in many different combatants, from professional British soldiers to American militiamen to Native warriors. Outcomes were unpredictable: on land, Americans found their early confidence spoiled by a series of setbacks in Canada and on the frontier, while at sea the modest American fleet acquitted itself surprisingly well against the mighty British navy.

For those caught up in the fighting, however, the battles often were devastating and terrifying affairs. Whatever their allegiance, soldiers faced brutal violence, feeble medical treatment, and a relentless kind of warfare that left families shattered and towns destroyed. And, in a final twist, the Americans' most astonishing victory, the lopsided Battle of New Orleans. As American troops defeated their British opponents in January 1815, a peace treaty, negotiated weeks earlier, was already on its way to Washington to be ratified to end the war.

Last updated: March 5, 2015

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