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Bibliographical Note, War with the United States

Enough books to fill a small library have been written about the 'sprawling and sporadic' War of 1812. Most of them deal with particular phases, localities, or events; and most of them are distinctly partisan. This is unfortunate, but not surprising. The war was waged over an immense area, by various forces, and with remarkably various results. The Americans were victorious on the Lakes and in all but one of the naval duels fought at sea. Yet their coast was completely sealed up by the Great Blockade in the last campaign. The balance of victory inclined towards the British side on land. Yet the annihilating American victories on the Lakes nullified most of the general military advantages gained by the British along the Canadian frontier. The fortunes of each campaign were followed with great interest on both sides of the line. But on the other side of the Atlantic the British home public had Napoleon to think of at their very doors; and so, for the most part, they regarded the war with the States as an untoward and regrettable annoyance, which diverted too much force and attention from the life-and-death affairs of Europe.

All these peculiar influences are reflected in the different patriotic annals. Americans are voluble about the Lakes and the naval duels out at sea. But the completely effective British blockade of their coast-line is a too depressingly scientific factor in the problem to be welcomed by a general public which would not understand how Yankee ships could win so many duels while the British Navy won the war. Canadians are equally voluble about the battles on Canadian soil, where Americans had decidedly the worst of it. As a rule, Canadian writers have been quite as controversial as Americans, and not any readier to study their special subjects as parts of a greater whole. The British Isles have never had an interested public anxious to read about this remote, distasteful, and subsidiary war; and books about it there have consequently been very few.

The two chief authors who have appealed directly to the readers of the mother country are William James and Sir Charles Lucas. James was an industrious naval historian; but he was quite as anti-American as the earlier American writers were anti-British. Owing to this perverting bias his two books, the _Naval_ and the Military Occurrences of the late War between Great Britain and the United States, are not to be relied upon. Their appendices, however, give a great many documents which are of much assistance in studying the real history of the war. James wrote only a few years after the peace. Nearly a century later Sir Charles Lucas wrote The Canadian War of 1812, which is the work of a man whose life-long service in the Colonial Office and intimate acquaintance with Canadian history have both been turned to the best account. The two chief Canadian authors are Colonel Cruikshank and James Hannay. Colonel Cruikshank deserves the greatest credit for being a real pioneer with his Documentary History of the Campaigns upon the Niagara Frontier. Hannay's History of the War of 1812 shows careful study of the Canadian aspects of the operations; but its generally sound arguments are weakened by its controversial tone.

The four chief American authors to reckon with are, Lossing, Upton, Roosevelt, and Mahan. They complement rather than correspond with the four British authors. The best known American work dealing with the military campaigns is Lossing's Field-Book of the War of 1812. It is an industrious compilation; but quite uncritical and most misleading. General Upton's _Military Policy of the United States_ incidentally pricks all the absurd American militia bubbles with an incontrovertible array of hard and pointed facts. The Naval War of 1812, by Theodore Roosevelt, is an excellent sketch which shows a genuine wish to be fair to both sides. But the best naval work, and the most thorough work of any kind on either side, is Admiral Mahan's Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812.

A good deal of original evidence on the American side is given in Brannan's Official Letters of the Military and Naval Officers of the United States during the War with Great Britain in the Years 1812 to 1815. The original British evidence about the campaigns in Canada is given in William Wood's Select British Documents of the Canadian War of 1812. Students who wish to see the actual documents must go to Washington, London, and Ottawa. The Dominion Archives are of exceptional interest to all concerned.

The present work is based entirely on original evidence, both American and British.

Bibliographical Note, The War Chief of the Six Nations

The principal authority for material on Joseph Brant is William L. Stone's Life of Joseph Brant(Thayendanegea), 2 vols. (1838). This includes an account of the border wars of the American Revolution and sketches of the Indian campaigns of Generals Harmar, St Clair, and Wayne. A brief biography entitled Memoir of Captain Joseph Brant, 'compiled from authentic records,' was published anonymously in Brantford in 1872. History of Brant County (1883), Part II, pages 85-149, is devoted almost exclusively to Brant and his family. Samuel G. Drake's Biography and History of the Indians of North America from its First Discovery has one chapter (pp. 577-93) given exclusively to Brant. The chapter in the same work dealing with Red Jacket will also be found of interest to the student of Brant's career. William L. Stone, Jr.'s Life and Times of Sir William Johnson, 2 vols. (1865), contains much valuable information regarding the events which shaped the early career of Brant. B. B. Thatcher in his Indian Biography, 2 vols., dismisses Brant with an unsympathetic and prejudiced paragraph, but several of his chapters, particularly the one dealing with Red Jacket, throw much light on the struggles in which Brant took part.

Other works which contain much material relating to Joseph Brant are Mrs Holden's The Brant Family; Eleazar Wheelock's Narrative of the Original Design, Rise, Progress and Present State of the Indian Charity-School at Lebanon, In Connecticut (1763); William V. Moore's Indian Wars of the United States; Jean N. McIlwraith's Sir Frederick Haldimand, and A. G. Bradley's Lord Dorchester in the 'Makers of Canada' series; Lewis H. Morgan's League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois; E. M. Chadwick's The People of the Long House; Documents relating to the Constitutional History of Canada, 1759-1791, selected and edited by Adam Shortt and Arthur G. Doughty; Haldimand Papers, January 1779 to March 1783, copies of which are in the Dominion Archives; Handbook of Canadian Indians, edited by James White, F.R.G.S.

See also in this Series: The Dawn of Canadian History; The Father of British Canada; The War Chief of the Ottawa; Tecumseh.


This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Chronicles of Canada, The United Empire Loyalists, A Chronicle of the Great Migration, 1915

 

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