Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Neglected War

On January 9, 1815, the climactic battle in the War of 1812
and the early career of General Andrew Jackson.
The Battle of New Orleans
by E. Percy Moran, 1910.

The War of 1812 began 200 years ago this year, June 18, 1812, to be exact. This conflict is probably one of the least known in American history. We tend to forget that the American Revolution did not completely separate us from Great Britain. Animosity between the two nations continued and boiled over into this war, which ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1815.

The main issues involved the impressment (forced joining) of American sailors into the British Navy, concern about the future of Canada, westward expansion through the Mississippi Territory, and trade. At the same time, the Creek War (1813-1814) broke out. The tribe itself was divided. Americans were attacked by the faction opposed to adapting to American ways.

We know generally about some particular events, such as the Battle of Fort McHenry (1814), which inspired the writing of the National Anthem, and the Battle of New Orleans (1815). Two significant events that occurred in Alabama were the massacre at Fort Mims (August 30, 1813) and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (March 27, 1814).

You can find primary sources concerning War of 1812 veterans in the Microforms Department. These include the Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files; War of 1812 Military Bounty Land Warrants, 1815-1858; and Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812.

The U. S. Serial Set Digital Collection database also has several dozen full-text documents on the War of 1812. They include a wide range of subjects, such as petitions, claims, reports, pension applications, memorials, and even resolutions by several state legislatures to refund a $1,000 fine that was imposed on General Andrew Jackson after fighting the Battle of New Orleans!

Michelle Andrews
Government Documents
Central Library

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