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War of 1812_Truth In Regard To _1909

On offer: A sweeping, pointed, and concise summary of the War of 1812:


The editorial in the New York "Evening Post" of June 27th, 1908, denouncing the attempts of the Public Schools' Athletic League and of the National Rifle Association to instruct the boys of the High Schools in shooting with a military rifle, asks the questions,"

Could the use of the rifle have any other effect than to stimulate the reckless use of arms by minors?" and, "What kind of patriotism is that which is to be acquired by going to a range and shooting at dummies?"

This and a number of similar statements in otherwise intelligent periodicals, as well as much of the criticism of certain statesmen of both parties and other influential men on Mr. Roosevelt's anxious desire for four battle ships, and against the recent law of Congress to put the National Guard of the different States into condition for service, and in particular, the persistent refusal of Congress after Congress to en act the military legislation urged by nearly every President, are largely based upon an erroneous idea which exists in respect to American success in the warfare on land during the War of 1812.
While the ordinary American is sufficiently familiar with the details of history to know that disasters frequently overtook our armies during the Revolution in consequence of the unreliability of hasty levies of untrained men, and that nothing substantial was accomplished until the organization of the Continentals (who were really regulars), yet few are aware that these disasters were repeated upon a much larger scale throughout the War of 1812.
On the contrary, more than a majority of our people firmly believe that this war was on land, as well as on sea, a series of "magnificent victories, won by inexperienced American citizen soldiers against superior forces of veteran British regulars." In fact, some fifty years ago there was a popular song which represented, and I think still represents, the sentiments of the people on this subject, the refrain of which was,
"In 1812 we licked them well."
This erroneous idea has been strengthened by the similar idea which exists in respect to our Civil War, a war which the community generally associate with the victorious campaigns of Meade, Sherman, Sheridan and Grant, forgetting that they occurred at a period when the "mob of volunteers" of 1861 had been hammered into an army by years of actual conflict, at an enormous and largely unnecessary sacrifice of men and money, and ignoring the disasters and fiascos of 1861 and 1862.
The conviction as to our exploits in 1812 in "defeating foreign regulars with untrained American citizens," is not only prevalent, but constitutes a serious injury to the country in the influence which it exerts in preventing necessary military legislation to provide adequate means of national defence, and at present in lead ing many to oppose that instruction of our youth in marksmanship, not to mention military drill, which every soldier recognizes to be indispensable for the maintenance of the peace; for no country can expect to remain at peace unless it is prepared to defend it self in time of war. As we never will have a sufficient regular army to do this, we can only make up for it by training our youth to be such good shots that they will be formidable as volunteers. The Boer war showed what skilled riflemen could do even against regular soldiers.
It would seem to be timely, therefore, that some attempt at least should be made to state the truth in regard to the land campaigns of the War of 1812, the more so as many of the errors which occurred in them were not only repeated during both the Civil and Spanish wars, but there is every reason to believe will again appear in the next war in which this country may become involved?particularly the enormous loss of life which is certain to result in such a war from our insisting on limiting the medical service of the army in time of peace to one-third of what is required, with no provision for its expansion if war should come. This truth is that, while the work done by our little navy in the War of 1812 was a credit to it and to the country, the campaigns on land were a series of humiliating disasters, with the exception of the Battle of Lundy's Lane, Croghan's defence of Fort Stephenson, the victory of New Orleans, the Battle of the Thames and Jackson's defeat of the Indians.

This arose from the following causes:
1. The Government had made no preparation for the war prior to declaring it.
2. After war had been declared, instead of enlisting troops for a term of years sufficient to ensure their becoming instructed and disciplined, the Government and the States put their main trust in the militia. This, it is fair to say, was not the present uniformed and drilled National Guard, but the "people at large,"
a totally unorganized body without military training, drafts from which were called into service usually for periods of from one to three months?too short a period to train men for effective service. It was, however, as much of a military body as the volunteers we should have to depend upon at the present time in case of war, outside our small regular army and the 115,000 National Guard of the States (assuming that the latter would all respond? a thing that it is impossible to expect). Its members could certainly shoot better than our volunteers would do under existing conditions, as our Spanish war demonstrated that the latter can not shoot at all.
3. The officers, both of the army and the militia, were with out military knowledge, and were usually appointed for political reasons.
4. The leading commanders who were not thus appointed were soldiers of the Revolution, who had become inefficient through age.
It is unnecessary to say that in consequence, in addition to the series of defeats which marked this war, it was prolonged very much beyond the time it should have lasted, and its pecuniary cost was rendered enormous.
These statements are so different from the idea generally entertained on the subject that they will be doubted by many. To establish their truth the following synopsis of the land campaigns in the war is given. It is taken from the "Military Policy of the United States/' compiled by the late Major-General Emory
Upton, a most distinguished soldier of the Civil War, who left it upon his death as a legacy to his country. It was published by the Secretary of War at the request of General William T. Sherman, who read and approved of it. It was republished by the War Department in 1907. All the facts contained in it are therefore officially vouched for.

The Forces Engaged.
War was declared on June 18th, 1812. At this time the British regular troops in Canada were less than 4,500 effectives. Even these were old men or invalids, fit only for garrison duty, as Great Britain had removed all her efficient troops to participate in the Napoleonic campaigns. Those left, however, were disciplined troops commanded by experienced officers. Although six months previously Congress had increased, on paper, the United States regular army to 35,000 men, at the time war was declared it was actually 6,744 strong. This army was poorly officered there being at that time only seventy-one cadets who had graduated from West Point. There were no staff organizations, depots or supplies, nor, in fact, any real military organization. Many of the higher officers who had served with credit in the Revolution were now old men whose energy and initiative had gone.
Notwithstanding the teachings of Washington and Hamilton, Jefferson and his successors in the Presidency, as well as Congress, had become imbued with the idea that a regular army would be a menace to the liberty of the Eepublic, and that the militia could be depended upon for its defence.
The greatest number of British soldiers ever in this country at one time during the war was 16,500 in 1814. In other words, while the population of the United States in 1812 was more than double that of the Colonies in 1775 and its wealth much greater proportionately, the largest number of British troops employed against it at any time in this war was only a little more than a third of those unsuccessfully used by the British in the Revolution.
Instead of falling upon the 5,000 British regulars who held Canada in the beginning and crushing them in a single battle, the want of a sufficient organized force caused the war to be prolonged until the American loss in killed and wounded numbered 5,614. The loss from sickness was over six times this number.
It was very heavy among the Southerners who were sent to the Canadian frontier.
The truth in regard to the war of I812.

The number of troops raised by the United States during this war was:
Regulars (including sailors). 56,032
Volunteers. _ 10,110
Rangers. 3,049
Militia. 456,463
Total 525,654
These figures, however, give no true representation of the actual force in the field at any time, as over 400,000 of these were enlisted for three months or less. With the slow transport of those days, by the time the men reached their rendezvous and had got a partial organization and a little drill, their time of service was about expiring and they had to be sent home. That this involved an enormous cost is self-evident. That such troops were unreliable as soldiers was proved by what took place.

The following is a brief history of the campaigns:

Campaign of 1812.
As soon as war was declared an outcry was raised everywhere that Canada should be immediately captured. Many attempts were made in this direction from different points, all of which were failures. These should be considered by localities:
In the West.?In July, 1812, General Hull crossed from Detroit to Canada with 1,800 men. Without inflicting any damage, he suddenly retreated to Detroit on August 8th, where he was besieged, and where, on August 16th, without firing a shot, he surrendered his entire force to the British, who had 320 regulars,
400 militia and 600 Indians. We thus lost control of the whole of the Northwest. General Hull had been a tried soldier of the Revolution, and he claimed that his troops were insubordinate.
On October 10th, 4,000 Kentucky mounted militia marched towards the Indian villages on the Wabash; but they became alarmed by a fire on the prairie, and on the fifth day abandoned their General and dispersed to their homes.
General William H. Harrison then organized about 10,000 militia from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania for the same purpose. As soon as he marched, the want of proper supplies and the absence of discipline caused mutiny. After a slight engagement, the Virginia militia refused to obey orders and returned to their camp, which broke up the expedition.

The Niagara Frontier.
On October 12th, 1812 (four months after the war had been declared, a period sufficient for the capture of Canada if we had had any army), General Van Rensselaer fought the Battle of Niagara with 900 regulars and 2,270 militia.
He crossed the river and stormed the batteries. But, for want of proper support, the invading party, after a gallant fight, was driven from the batteries to the river and, being unable to cross, was captured. The total force which crossed did not exceed 1,000 men, and its loss was 250 killed and 700 prisoners. The British force was 1,100?600 regulars and 500 militia and Indians. They lost sixteen killed and sixty-nine wounded. This attack was made by General Van Rensselaer against his judgment, on account of the pressure of his officers and troops, who, however, refused to support him when the clash came.
General Smyth having raised 4,500 militia for a month, on November 28th, 1812, after a flowery proclamation, started to invade Canada, but returned the same afternoon. On December 1st, he crossed again, went a quarter of a mile and returned. His army then disappeared.

The Northern Army.
General Dearborn assembled near Lake Champlain another invading army, numbering 5,737, to capture Montreal. He made an advance as far as LaColle River, captured a block-house and then returned and went into winter quarters (where the troops suffered greatly). Nearly all the 3,000 militia included in the force refused to cross the line.
During the year, we called out 43,187 militia and 15,000 regulars, who, being opposed by 5,200 (counting Canadians, but excluding Indians), accomplished nothing. General Brown of our army estimated the British regulars in Upper Canada to be 1,200.
It is notable tftat at this time the President and his Cabinet had authorized the dismantling of the men-of-war of the Navy to convert them into floating batteries for harbor defence. They were only persuaded from carrying out this plan by protests from Captains Bainbridge and Stewart. The result was a series of glorious naval victories.

Campaign of 1813.
During this year Congress endeavored to raise more regular troops, but found it very difficult to do so, the war being unpopular in many sections.

General Winchester, having taken up General Harrison's abortive attempt to relieve the settlers on the Eiver Raisin, advanced with a force of some 900 men. He was attacked on January 22nd, defeated and captured by a British force of 1,000 men under
Proctor, with a loss of 397 killed, 27 wounded and 522 prisoners.
General Harrison had entrenched himself on the east bank of the Miami at Fort Meigs. He was besieged by Proctor with 983 regulars and militia and 1,200 Indians. Kentucky militia to the number of 1,200 were sent to his support, but in disobedience of orders they attacked the British camp and were routed, only 150 escaping. Fort Meigs, although besieged, was not taken; but our losses were 87 killed, 189 wounded and 605 prisoners. The British lost 14 killed, 47 wounded and 40 prisoners.
On August 2nd the British with 391 regulars attacked Fort Stephenson held by Major Croghan with 160 regulars, but were repulsed with heavy loss. This was a creditable affair for us, particularly as Croghan was not twenty-one.
On September 27th Harrison, having received re-enforcements from Kentucky and Ohio, crossed to Canada and on October 5th attacked Proctor on the Thames and totally defeated him, with a loss of 12 killed, 22 wounded and 600 prisoners, all regulars. It was in this battle that Tecumseh was killed.
Harrison had a force of about 1,300. But instead of being sent forward to take advantage of this victory?which won back the territory we had lost and detached the southwestern Indians from the British cause?his army was disbanded. The militia was discharged and Harrison sent back to Detroit. His success, in contrast to the dreary series of disappointing disasters that had marked the war, justly gave him an enduring reputation.

In the Centre.
In February, 1813, the British force in this section was estimated at 2,100 by the Secretary of War.
On April 27th General Dearborn advanced on York (now Toronto) and captured it, the American forces being 1,700 and the British 750 regulars and militia and 100 Indians. We lost 270, mostly by a mine explosion. The British loss was 200 killed and wounded and 293 prisoners. Dearborn took Fort George on May 27th, and later the other forts on the Niagara frontier.
In one of the attacks an American force of 542 men, mostly regulars, was, however, surrendered because its Colonel believed he was surrounded!
A British attack, on May 27th, on Saekett's Harbor was repulsed with heavy loss by the regulars after a creditable fight.
This, like all previous engagements, showed the value of disciplined troops, as the militia ran away after firing one volley.
The fugitives who fled in panic to Kingston reported that the battle had been lost, which caused the burning of the naval barracks and stores; a serious loss.

The Failure of the Attack on Montreal.
To attack Montreal 8,000 regulars, under General Wilkinson, rendezvoused, at the foot of Lake Ontario, to descend the St. Lawrence, while another army about 5,000 strong, under General Hampton, was assembled at the foot of Lake Champlain. Though called "regulars," these were recruits without discipline or competent officers.
Hampton crossed the frontier, but was repulsed by a force of 800 militia and Indians, and he returned to Lake Champlain on November 11th. Wilkinson's advance of 1,600 men met 800 British regulars at Chrystler's Fields, whence, after a fight of about two hours, in which he lost 338 killed and wounded, our forces returned to their boats. A council of war then decided that the attack on Montreal should be abandoned and the army go into winter quarters on the American shore. Thus 13,000 men were beaten back by a force of regulars, militia and Indians not exceeding 2,000.

The Centre.
The British then threatened Fort George, the defence of which had been left to General McClure, who sum moned a council of war, which decided that the fort was not tenable. Thereupon it was evacuated, and the force returned to the American shore, General McClure directing that the village of Newark be burned.
The British crossed the river on December 19th, captured Fort Niagara through the criminal negligence of the commander, and, in retaliation for the burning of Newark, destroyed Lewiston, Buffalo and several other towns. The inhabitants of Western New York fled, some of them as far east as the Genesee River. General Cass wrote on January 12th, 1814, in regard to the destruction of Buffalo: "I am satisfied that not more than 650 men, of regulars, militia and Indians, landed at Black Bock. To oppose these we had from 2,500 to 3,000 militia. All, except very few of them, behaved in the most cowardly manner. They fled without discharging a musket."

The Chesapeake Bay.
On March 4th, 1813, the British fleet entered the Chesapeake, and between April 20th and May 6th it
captured and burned Frenchtown, Havre-de-Grace, Georgetown and Fredericktown. The landing party in each of these cases was composed of about 150 marines and a small detachment of artillery. On June 20th the British attacked Craney Island in the hope of taking Norfolk and its navy-yard, but they were repulsed.
On the 25th the British took and destroyed Hampton. Their forces consisted of 2,000 men; their loss was 48. The Americans had 450 militia, who lost 31. This, therefore, was a creditable performance by the Americans.

The Creek War.
On August 30th, 1813, the Creek Indians captured Fort Mims in Southern Alabama and massacred all in it, some 400. General Jackson was given command of 2,500 men raised by Tennessee. On November 3rd he fought the Battle of Tallasahatchee, and on November 9th crushed the Creeks in a second engagement. For want of supplies, however, due largely to the failure of the Government to organize properly the staff departments until hostilities had become imminent, Jackson was compelled to lead his troops back to Fort Strother. The militia resolved to go home, but they were stopped by the volunteers.
Shortly thereafter the volunteers decided to imitate their example, but were stopped by the militia. Jackson then agreed that, if the supplies did not arrive in two days, they would all march back. When the time was up fulfillment of the promise was demanded, but the General said that, if only two men would remain with him, he would never abandon the post. One hundred and nine responded and were left as garrison, and Jackson started back with the remainder upon the understanding that if the expected supplies were met the troops would return. Twelve miles from the fort they met the supplies (cattle), but the troops refused to obey the order to return. They were compelled to do so by Jackson, however, who seized a musket and barred the home ward road of the mutineers. This ended the glorious record of 1813. During the year we were expelled from Canada and our villages on the northern frontier were destroyed.

Campaign of 1814.
At the expiration of their terms of enlistment Jackson's soldiers left him and were replaced by new levies, so that it was not until the 6th of February, 1814 (a loss of six months), that he found himself at the head of an army of 5,000 men. With 3,000 of these he attacked the Indians at Horse Shoe Bend on March 27th, 1814, and destroyed them.
In 1814 Congress, for the first time, showed common sense by extending the term of enlistment in the army to five years.
But while it offered a bounty, the amount was less than the States were offering to substitutes, and it was therefore difficult to recruit the regulars. The increase in bounties, as was shown during the Revolution and also during the Civil War, led to desertions.
The regulars during the winter and spring of 1814 were much improved, commanders like Scott and Brown personally teaching their officers the elements of drill so that they might instruct their men. The old incompetents, like Wilkinson and Hampton, were displaced.
In July our army crossed the Niagara; took Fort Erie; gained the victory of Chippewa; fought the drawn battle of Lundy's Lane; fell back on Fort Erie, where it was invested; raised the siege by a successful sortie, and returned to the American shore after demolishing the fort. Although the invasion was a failure, the conduct of the army was entitled to the highest praise.
At the Battle of Lundy's Lane the British force was 5,000; the American, 3,000. The British lost 878; the American regulars, killed and wounded, 691; the volunteers, 57; a total of 748.
This was about the first occasion during the war when the American troops put up a square obstinate fight in the open against the British regulars. While both sides retreated after the engagement, in view of the difference in strength the engagement is regarded as an American success.

On the Northern Frontier.
On March 30th, 1814, Wilkinson, with nearly 4,000 regulars, invaded Canada, but was checked by
180 men stationed in a stone mill; and, after sustaining a loss of 154, he retreated to Plattsburg and then retired from the army.
In August, the British were preparing to advance up Lake Champlain and Plattsburg was threatened. In spite of this, by orders from the Secretary of War, General Izard's force of 4,000 men on August 29th marched from Plattsburg, where their presence was indispensable, to Sacketf s Harbor, where there was nothing requiring their presence.
On September 11th the Governor-General of Canada at the head of 11,000 British veterans, who had arrived during the summer, mostly from the Spanish Peninsula, attacked Plattsburg, but the total destruction of his fleet by Commodore McDonough broke his line of communications and compelled him to return to Canada.
The depleted American force in Plattsburg was then 3,500. The only thing that saved it, and, in fact, saved New York from the invasion of the British forces was the success of the navy. It is noticeable that on this occasion, when the cannonading was distinctly audible at Burlington, Vermont, Governor Chittenden, of that State, refused aid to the American forces upon the ground that he had no authority to order the militia to leave the State. A number of the Vermont militia crossed and participated in the fight at Plattsburg in spite of his opposition.

The Capture of Washington.
Although the British fleet, with about 3,000 troops on board, had been hovering along the shores
of the Chesapeake for nearly a year nothing was done to protect Washington until the beginning of the summer of 1814. The Secretary of State then ascertained that the regulars in Maryland and Virginia were but 2,208, composed largely of recruits, who were dispersed at various points from Baltimore to Norfolk. This situation was presented to the Cabinet on June 7th, but no action was suggested.
On July 2nd tbe Tenth Military District was created, comprising Maryland, the District of Columbia and a part of Virginia. The command of this district was given to General Winder, not because he was distinguished professionally, but because he was a native of Maryland and a relative of the Governor and "thus would be useful in mitigating the opposition to the war in other words, for his political influence.
On July 4th the Governors of States were requested to hold in readiness for immediate service 93,500 men. It was considered too expensive to actually call them out!
General Winder, who had but 700 or 800 regulars, asked that 4,000 militia should be called out and stationed to protect Washington. Finally, on August 13th, after he had been authorized to make a call for 15,000 men and had done so, the militia who responded were mustered on August 21st. This army was 5,401, of whom 400 were regulars, 600 marines, 20 sailors, the remainder being volunteers and militia. Its commander says it was "suddenly assembled without organization or discipline, or officers of the least knowledge of service." On August 24th, three days after its muster, it was attacked by an advance division of 1,500 men out of a British force of 3,500, and was routed with a total loss of but 8 killed and 11 wounded!
It is noticeable that the men who participated in this panic, as well as those who were involved in the other humiliating disasters mentioned in this article, were in all respects, except discipline and competent officers (two vital exceptions), the same as those who fought in the Battle of Lundy's Lane, and there, out of 3,000 men, 76 officers were killed or wounded and 629 rank and file, and they" held at bay in the open field 5,000 British regular troops."
Atter the "Bladensburg Races," the British continued their march, captured Washington, burned the White House, the Treasury and the War Offices, and the next day returned unmolested to their shipping.
This scandalous disaster was largely due to the cheese-paring economy of Congress and the President, who refrained from calling out the militia for drill and organization until the time when they were required to fight without them. It resulted, however, in driving from office the Secretary of War, who had undertaken to manage the war himself and to give direct orders to the different commands.
On September 13th the British made a combined land and naval attack on Baltimore, but were driven back with a loss of 319.
During 1814 we called out 38,186 regulars, 197,653 militia, a total of 235,839, against 16,500 British. The utmost strength we could show in the shape of an effective force in battle was 3,000 at Lundy's Lane.

Campaign of 1815.
The only engagement of this campaign was the victory of New Orleans, which was won on January 8th, two weeks after the conclusion of the treaty of peace. The British had a force of 14,250 regulars, veterans just sent from England; General Jackson had 5,698 volunteers. The actual attack was a frontal one, made by the British with 8,000 men against strong entrenchments; the British lost 2,100 killed and wounded and 500 prisoners; the Americans 7 killed and 6 wounded. This result was largely due to the indomitable energy of General Jackson, and the remainder to the wonderful marksmanship of his Kentucky and Tennessee troops, most of whom, it must be remembered, had acquired considerable military experience in the warfare against the Creeks.
As Henry Clay, however, said, "It wound up a disastrous and humiliating war in a blaze of glory I" This gave General Jackson a popularity among the masses, which, as was said at the time, would stand anything." Although there were many who, during his stormy career, differed with him upon political questions, the number of those who could be induced by such differences to vote against "the hero of New Orleans " were few.

The Financial Loss.
The expenses of the War Department during these three years of futile war were $82,627,509.44, which was more than twice what had been spent upon the Army during the twenty-five years preceding 1812. Those of the Navy were $30,286,534.44. The pension bill up to 1903 was $45,186,197, although the people felt so sore over the results that it was not until 1871 that a pension law was passed affecting the soldiers of this war, except those that were disabled. General Upton figures the total cost of this war to have been $198,000,000, excluding pensions.
If Congress had applied a small part of this sum from 1808 to 1811 to maintaining an army of 15,000, capable of being expanded, Canada would have been ours and the war would have been ended in a single campaign. The loss sustained from the failure to acquire Canada is incalculable. In view of this humiliating record, can any lover of his country or any man of common sense question the wisdom of Messrs. Root and Taft, or of Mr. Roosevelt, not to mention the Public Schools' Athletic League and the National Rifle Association, in endeavoring in time of peace to prepare the United States for defence in time of war, or continue to entertain the idea that numbers of untrained men, without skill in marksmanship, make an army, or can defend the country against a small force of well-disciplined and well-officered foreign regulars?

- George W. Wingate.

[Or terrorists and nutcases - foreign or domestic!]
The Truth in Regard to the War of 1812 and the Necessity of Our Knowing It
Author(s): George W. Wingate Reviewed work(s):Source: The North American Review, Vol. 189, No. 643 (Jun., 1909), pp. 831-843  Published by: University of Northern Iowa
Stable URL: . Accessed: 13/09/2012


When War Came to the United States - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Clinton County Times - Dec 14, 1944 [note sidebar article on Indian code talkers!]

pdfs for printing:
Garfield County News 1944-12-07 When War Came to the United States
Kane County Standard 1944-12-08 When War Came to the United States
Manti Messenger 1944-12-08 When War Came to the United States
Rich County 1944-12-08 When War Came to the United States

A recently discovered and informative blog:

The Commonplace Book: Notes and images from the Old Northwest of past and present.

The American Army of 1812 and the School of Discipline

US Army Rangers: a Forgotten Unit of the War of 1812

For a compelling view of the War of 1812 as "the last battle of the Long War for the West"...which resolved "the great problem of North American, and perhaps even Atlantic, history from 1754 to 1815: the fate of the trans-Appalachian West."; see:

The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History
Author(s): By Fran├žois Furstenberg
The American Historical Review, Vol. 113, No. 3 (June 2008), pp. 647-677
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the American Historical Association

"...As for the historiography on the early United States, most of it focuses on the East, with the West treated as something of a sideshow, destined to form part of the expanding nation. The newer historiography on the Atlantic world, which aims to transcend the limits imposed by national historiographies, would seem to offer some hope. So far, however, it has tended to remain content sailing aboard ships or landing along coastlines, leaving the more grueling trek into continental interiors to the national historiographies it so haughtily claims to supersede."..."If the United States and Great Britain fought a war in the East and on the Atlantic over questions of maritime rights and impressment, American settlers and Native Americans in the Mississippi Valley fought a far more consequential war whose objectives were, on the one side, continued U.S. expansion into Native and British land, and, on the other, the preservation of the West as an Indian country forever protected from American settlement. If this seems familiar, that is because these objectives echoed those for which France had gone to war in 1754, for which Pontiac had fought in 1763, and which the British had pursued since 1783: the restriction of American settlement from the trans-Appalachian West, and the creation of a buffer between the United States and British and Spanish territory. Like previous wars, the War of 1812 saw the emergence of pan-Indian unity and ideology: where in the past it had been led by Neolin and Pontiac, now it was led by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa. As previous wars had seen Native leaders urging a return of the French to counterbalance British power, this war saw Native leaders in the North and Southwest reach out to the British and Spanish to balance U.S. power."

...and beyond the War of 1812: 

The American Military on the Frontier: Proceedings of the 7th Military History Symposium, edited by James P. Tate. Office of Air Force History, 1976, pp. 174-175


Pre-Civil War Period
"I was struck-as were Professors Ropp and Coles-with the heavy emphasis on the post-Civil War period, the mere 25 years from 1865 to 1890. It was almost as though the “army on the frontier” were equated with the “Indian fighting army” of the plains and mountains.
Had the symposium speakers, I wondered, been captured by the romantic, popular-I was almost tempted to say Hollywood concept of the west? If we are to look at the truly significant military influence of the army on the frontier, should we not turn our attention instead, as Professor Ropp has suggested, to the earlier decades in American history? Should we not turn to the 75 years between the Revolution and the Civil War, a period when the frontier was proportionately more important in the total national picture, when the Indian nations still exercised large elements of sovereignty and for a considerable time could expect succor from foreign powers, and when the army’s role was not fighting Indians and protecting settlers but vindicating United States authority in the west, a role of paramount importance.
Let me expand just a bit on this last point. The United States was granted the land up to the Mississippi at the end of the Revolutionary War, but it was necessary to exert authority if the territory was indeed to be American-exert authority against British-Indian encroachment in the northwest (with their living dream of an Indian buffer state between the Ohio and the Great Lakes) anp against Spanish pretensions in the south, to say nothing of the vague French schemes for recapturing the Mississippi Valley that so disturbed Alexander Hamilton in the late 1790s. And after 1803 there was the vast Louisiana Purchase, its boundaries unclear and its contents unknown, to be brought effectively under American control. We need to recall that Pike’s explorations and the Lewis and Clark expedition, were army enterprises.
Equally worth remarking were the visionary plans of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun after the War of 1812 to establish American presence in the west. It was the frontier army that was the national instrument in this great task-building a cordon of military posts along the Great Lakes and the western rivers, to make clear to the British and to the Indians that United States sovereignty in fact extended over the land it claimed.
The army was the chief agent in the exuberant nationalism that marked the post-1815 years, a nationalism strikingly exhibited in Calhoun’s directions to [Brevet] General Thomas A. Smith [Colonel Commanding The Rifle Regiment] in 1818, for establishing a military post at the mouth of the Yellowstone River on the upper reaches of the Missouri. Calhoun admitted that the remoteness of the post would make it unpleasant for the soldiers. But he wrote: 
“I am persuaded that the American soldier, actuated by the spirit of enterprise, will meet the privations which may be necessary with cheerfulness. Combined with the importance of the service, the glory of planting the American flag at a point so distant, on so noble a river, will not be unfelt. The world will behold in it the mighty growth of our republic, which but a few years since, was limited by the Alleghany; but now is ready to push its civilization and laws to the western confines of the continent.”...." 


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