The year 1814 was one of the bleakest in American history. It opened with the country embroiled in war, with most of its coast blockaded by the British Navy, the economy collapsing, the frontiers aflame with violence, and the government teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. And now that Britain’s war with Napoleon was effectively over, things were bound to get even worse for the United States. American troops scored a few victories in the field, some of them surprising, but the capture and burning of Washington, D.C. by British forces in August vividly demonstrated America’s disadvantages. Yet throughout this dark period the seeds of a more or less honorable peace had already been planted, with negotiations going on in Europe and a growing desire on both sides to simply end the conflict. Of all the participants, the Native Americans paid the steepest price in the War of 1812.
Historian Sean Munger completes this three-part series on America’s most obscure war, although there are still many more stories from this conflict to tell. In this episode you’ll drop in on battles at distant frontier forts and the swamps surrounding New Orleans; you’ll learn what a Baratarian is, how West Point cadets got their funky uniforms and why Presidents don’t make very good field commanders. This is definitely stuff you did not get in history class!
(Some background music for this episode licensed CC3.0 by Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston).
Go to the website page on this episode for additional materials, including pictures!