Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812

John R. Elting, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $24.95 (353p) ISBN 978-0-945575-08-5
No other conflict in our history found us so unready or ill-prepared as the War of 1812, argues Elting, who here presents the military side of the war and emphasizes the amateurishness of the Americans who managed to win their ``Second War of Independence'' despite themselves. Tactical victories, few and far between, made the difference in the end: Oliver Perry's destruction of a British squadron on Lake Erie in 1813, William Henry Harrison's defeat of a British column the following year at the Battle of the Thames. Ironically, the most celebrated clash of the war, Andrew Jackson's 1815 victory at New Orleans, took place two weeks after the signing of the peace treaty at Ghent in Belgium. Elting ( The Superstrategists ) tells the story from the British side as well as the American. He includes a memorable account of the expedition under Robert Ross that won an easy victory over the Americans at Bladensburg, Va., then captured Washington, burning the Capitol and the White House, only to suffer a surprising defeat before Baltimore. This is a lively, well-written account of one of America's long-forgotten, but decidedly major wars. Illustrations. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-306-80653-7
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-1-61620-286-6
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