June 1 marked the anniversary of the War of 1812. Many scholars refer to this as America’s “forgotten war.” Nevertheless, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Britain. This lasted for a little over two years making 2015 the bicentennial of the final battle and end of the war. This anniversary of the War of 1812 begins a season of re-enactments across America.
In History’s account of the war they explain the causes were the result of an ongoing battle between Britain and France. Both countries were trying to block trade advances with the United States and the opposing side. Britain imposed many restrictions on neutral countries’ trade with the French. Furthermore, they practiced the act of impressment where they would remove men from other countries’ trade ships and force them into military service.
Eventually, the French worked out a deal with America so they could resume their trade. Soon after President Madison blocked all trade with Britain. The British also hindered America’s attempts at advancing their territory in the west, and encouraged Native Americans to resist settlement.
History tells how at the start of the war, America attacked Canada and British colonies. In September of 1813, the United States won the Battle of Lake Erie and took over control of the Northwest Territory. However, scholars point out that once Napoleon was defeated, Britain could fully focus on the war with America. In August 1814, they took Washington and burned most of the buildings to the ground, including the White House and the Capitol.
The War of 1812 is also when Francis Scott Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner. On September 13, 1814, the Americans withstood British forces for 25 hours at Fort McHenry, inspiring the iconic poem.
History notes that peace was found on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. However, the British were unaware and launched an attack in New Orleans on January 8, 1815. This battle was won by the Americans led by Andrew Jackson. History claims that even though the United States did not achieve many of their goals set out before the war, they felt victorious overall after this skirmish.
Although the historians refer to it as “the forgotten war,” many of its battles are still re-enacted today. Many of these encounters will take place in the months to come this year. The anniversary of the War of 1812 will see many re-enactments across America.
The Mississinewa Battlefield Society will have a re-enactment in October of this year. According to their website, the event takes place in Marion, Indiana and will recount the battle that took place on December 18, 1812. They claim to throw the “most exciting living history weekend.”
The U.S. 23rd Infantry Regiment’s page says they will attend the Battle of Mississinewa as well. Beginning on May 3 until October 25, this group in involved in several events to commemorate the War of 1812. They attend re-enactments of many battles, including the Battle of Plattsburgh and the Battle of Glengarry.
1812 News explains how the War of 1812 was extremely influential to the state of Tennessee. In fact, this was the war in which it got its nickname “Volunteer State.” They reported on the Natchez Trace Parkway Association’s June re-enactment of General Andrew Jackson and his wife’s return home from the Battle of New Orleans. 1812 News says the association wanted to demonstrate the importance of the American morale after the victory on January 8, 1815.
Even with the remarks of this being a “forgotten war,” many of its battles are still re-enacted today. According to scholars, this war lasted a little over two years and carried with it many significant historical events. The War of 1812, while thought to be forgotten, still sees several re-enactments across America with its important anniversary.
By Megan Hellmann
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
1812 News: Bicentennial of battle victory planned
U.S. 23rd Infantry Regiment: War of 1812 Reenactments
History: War of 1812
Photo Courtesy of Wally Gobetz’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo Courtesy of US Navy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License