7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's WAR! June 18 marks the 201st anniversary of the Declaration of the War of 1812

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That war be and is hereby declared to exist between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the dependencies thereof, and the United States of America and their territories; and that the President of the United States is hereby authorized to use the whole land and naval force of the United States to carry the same into effect, and to issue to private armed vessels of the United States commissions or letters of marque and general reprisal, in such form as he shall think proper, and under the seal of the United States, against the vessels, goods, and effects of the government of the said United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the subjects thereof."

Fort Macinack by Seth Eastman
So reads the Declaration of War signed by President Madison. The ink was barely dry when eager troops launched into Canada from New York's border to attack British forces. That early confidence proved premature when the British capture Fort Mackinac, and Fort Dearborn is abandoned that summer.

General Van Rensselaer, in command of 500 New York Militia troops, attempted to eradicate the British from the Niagara Peninsula when he crossed the Niagara River into Queensland Heights. They succeed in driving the enemy from the top of the heights, but when the small contingent calls for reinforcements, they are met with two obstacles: other NY militia members are hesitant to leave their home state undefended and refuse to go. And then, politics interfere when General Smythe of the regular army wouldn't send his force stationed at Buffalo to help the militia. America loses the Battle of Queensland Heights.

A shaky start to the war did not mean all hope was lost. "Old Ironsides" takes British frigate the H.M.S. Guerrière in the epic battle depicted in this print. 600 miles east of Boston, the USS Constitution meets the British vessel and delivers its first broadside. The battle went on for 20 minutes' bombardment until the British man-of-war lost its mast. The Constitution by contrast incurred little damage. The victory galvanized the new country and made Commander Hull a household name.  Old Ironsides earned its name, going on to defeat or capture seven more British vessels. It also ran the British blockade of Boston twice.

New York State would play a vital role in the war, as naval battles on the Great Lakes would be launched from several points along the New York/Canadian border. In this war, Watervliet, NY became the site of America's oldest continuously used arsenal, positioned along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers and able to supply both the northern and western fronts. The Niagara Frontier increases in importance and stages some of the worst fighting in the War. New York Harbor and the St Lawrence River also set the stage of wartime drama. In future posts I hope to explore each of these a little closer. 

Kathleen L. Maher writes about NY history. Her novella Bachelor Buttons is part of a Civil War sesquicentennial collection released through Helping Hands Press. She won the 2012 ACFW Genesis contest, and  is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency. She and her husband live in a 100-year-old farmhouse in upstate NY with their three children, two Newfoundland dogs and a tuxedo cat. 


  1. Kathleen, very interesting post. I especially loved reading the actual proclamation of war. This time period is my personal favorite, and I always enjoy learning more about it.

  2. I know about 99% more about this war than I did a year ago. NY is such a central part of the earlier conflict until the Mid Atlantic got involvoed. There's barely a creek or town along the U.S or Canadian shores of Lake Ontario that didn't see some action during those three years and the 'embargo' years before it.

    What a lot of people don't realize is that those who lived along the northern borders in NY and New England were very involved with their 'Canadian' neighbors through marriage and trade. Many loyalists had moved across the border the generation before.

  3. Very interesting! I spent most of my growing up years in Niagara on the Lake, where Fort George is, which played a part in the war.

  4. Very interesting post, Kathleen.It becomes even more meaningful when you live in the midst of such an historic area.

  5. Love this! I love learning about sea battles and ships. (especially in the Great Lakes) Great post!
    Susan P


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