Posted by: Kath Usitalo | June 13, 2012

When Exactly Was That War of 1812?

The annual reenactment of the War of 1812 River Raisin battle of January 1813 , Monroe (provided photo)

It’s called the War of 1812, but its related battles stretched into early 1815 and it was rooted in events that happened years earlier.

The United States made its first declaration of war 200 years ago for several reasons, beginning with the insult of the British warship HMS Leopard attack against the American’s USS Chesapeake off the coast of Virginia in 1807.

In addition, the British, at war with France, interfered with trade between that country and the U.S., and British impressment or forced recruitment of American men into service of its Royal Navy was not appreciated. Neither was British support of Indians who opposed American expansion into the Northwest, including the Great Lakes territory of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

President James Madison reviewed the laundry list of complaints against Great Britain in a speech to Congress on June 1, 1812. The legislators voted to declare war, and on June 18 Madison put it into motion with his signature.

It took some weeks for the British Navy and troops to cross the pond, but eventually battles took place along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts and the Lower Great Lakes. Southeast Michigan and northern Ohio were hotspots; notable events include the bloody British and Indian victory over the Americans at the River Raisin Battlefield in Monroe in January of 1813. Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island also came under attack during the only war fought on Michigan soil.

The flag that flew over Fort McHenry measured 30’x42′

In August 1814 the British captured Washington D.C. and set fire to the Capitol and the White House. Famously, Dolley Madison had ordered the portrait of George Washington and drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution removed from the White House before they escaped to safety.

Weeks later in Baltimore the sight of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that survived the battle at Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.

The Treaty of Ghent (Belgium) ending the war was signed on December 24, 1814 but word didn’t arrive in time to avoid the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. It was the final, major confrontation of the War of 1812. The peace treaty was ratified in February 1815.

Commemorative ceremonies and events in Michigan in honor of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 include:

(NOTE: Admission fees charged for some events; click each for more info)

Dearborn: ceremony on The Henry Ford Museum lawn, 10 a.m., Monday, June 18

Monroe: reading of President Madison’s war message to Congress, 10 a.m., Monday, June 18 at the River Raisin National Battlefield

Vicksburg: War of 1812 program by Brian Dunnigan, 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, Vicksburg Historical Society

Northville: Bicentennial Celebration, 1:30 p.m., Sunday, June 24, Mill Race Village

Monroe: Hull’s March Anniversary family-friendly events marking the opening campaign of the war in Michigan, River Raisin National Battlefield Park, 10 a.m., Saturday, June 30

Mackinac Island: reenactment of the surrender of Fort Mackinac to the British and Indians, 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, Fort Mackinac

Wyandotte: War of 1812 Bicentennial Cruises on the Detroit River hosted by the Great Lakes Maritime Institute include historical narration, lunch, beverages and cash bar, Sunday, July 8 (4-hour cruise) and Sunday, August 5 (3-hour cruise)

Monroe and beyond: Narrated bus tour of War of 1812 sites in southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, August 11

Dearborn: War of 1812 Muster, period re-enactors in Greenfield Village, Saturday-Sunday, August 18-19

Additional events are planned; check in at the Michigan DNR War of 1812 website for more info and updated calendar of events.

Visitor Info Click:
Pure Michigan

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