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Militia in the War of 1812 - Essay Example

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The American-British war of 1812, often called the "Second War of Independence" (Canada, Chap 4), is perhaps the least talked-about War in American history, certainly compared to the much more famous European Wars of the same year. These wars are not unconnected however, as the British involvement in the Napoleonic War was one of the main causes of the breakdown in relations between it and its former colony of the United States…
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Militia in the War of 1812
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Download file to see previous pages In addition, many on the western front believed that Britain was involved with Native Americans in the attacks upon settlers
Confrontation seemed inevitable, and coincident with a declaration of war was the fact that most of the political power resided in the South and the West; The same people who were anxious to go to war with Britain were also the ones whom the president needed to support him in what was, after all, the year of the presidential election. War was almost certain under these conditions.
That does not mean, however, that the American states were prepared for war. Many authors agree that the constitution was fearful of creating a large standing army, and for this reason relied upon the citizens to form militias in times of crisis: "
The actual standing army was tiny, with the Office of the Chief of Military History calculating that army at about 11,744 men. As a consequence of this small number, the defense of the united States was very dependant upon militia armies raised by the states. As many of the militias held by individual states were disorganized and chaotic, "Many states had to recreate their militia from scratch once war was declared in June 1812". Therefore, one of the reasons why different states had different militia was partly dependant upon the state of this army before 1812: where the militia was in good repair, the state could mobilize these units effectively; where they had fallen into disrepair, the 1812 militia was usually ill-trained and ill-equipped.
How these militia were created and maintained was very much dependant upon the individual states. Many of them were opposed to these raised armies being taken away from their state of origin, as a proclamation by the Governor of Vermont in 1813 demonstrates:
It appears, that the third brigadeof militia of this state, has
Been ordered from our frontiers to the defence of a neighbouring
Statewhereby an extensive section of our own frontier is left,
In a measure, unprotected, and thegood citizens thereof are put
In great jeopardy (Chittenden, 1813)
The federal governments were unwilling to put large numbers of their men at the disposal of the National government, and especially, they did not want to see their troops moved out of their province in order to defend another state.
There were other reasons why federal states might be unwilling to put up large militias. While many of the Western states wanted the war, states such as New England actually sided with England, and "Massachusetts Governor Caleb Strong even attempted secret negotiations with England with a planfor New England to secede from the Union" (Lutins, 2007). So the second reason for differences in the militia is the differences in support (or lack thereof) for the war.
Both of these reasons were also interacting with the great problem which the United States had with federal governments, which is the reluctance of the States to grant power ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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