The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History Paperback – Nov 15 1999
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Renowned military historian.
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This updated version by Donald Graves, a noted Canadian expert on many of the battles of the war, provides many good maps, pictures, and detailed addenda. In particular the addenda concerning the contemporary and current names of the various British and Canadian regiments that fought in the war provides good supporting background. While the author writes pretty much free of national bias, his main point is that the war in Canada was largely fought and won by British regulars. Popular Canadian perceptions have the militia getting all the credit for repelling the various inept US invasions. This is simply not so. To the British 8th, 41st and 49th regiments of foot, who virtually alone stood on the frontier in 1812 against the Americans, must go the lionshare of credit in preventing Canada's conquest. The author points out that most Canadian militia did little or no fighting, the exception being some of the good fencible units that were raised.
Since this is an older work we don't have all the eulogies for the plight of the Indians under Tecumseh. When Hitsman was writing political correctness had not crept into works like this yet. Tecumseh and his warriors certainly get their mention, but we are not subjected to the great praise that most current works seem required to give. Yes, the great Shawnee Chief was important in defending Canada as well, but it was the daring of Isaac Brock with a handful of British regulars that humbled inept and grandiose American plans in the pivotal first few weeks of the war. The US was fortunate that Brock was lost to the Anglo-Canadians early in the conflict, had he lived longer no dout he would have inflicted other great defeats on the Americans.
Hitsman provides a good general overview of the war, and while his emphasis is Anglo-Canadian we are not left in the dark as to American plans and operations. Where this book differs from most American accounts is in the importance of mentioning the battles of 1814 around Washington and the British defeat at New Orleans. These get some attention, but not as much as one might be accustomed to in most American books on the war. Overall a decent work, and a good starting point from the Anglo-Canadian perspective. Readers might wish to get more of the American side from the numerous other books in print, but in the end they were still come to appreciate this concise work from the opposite side.
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