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How Britain Won the War of 1812

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Named one of the 20 Notable Naval Books of 2011 in the US Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, May 2012
The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States was fought on many fronts: single ship actions in the Atlantic; a US invasion of Canada, which the Canadians heroically resisted; the burning of the new US capital, Washington, by the British, the President's house subsequently painted white to hide the fire damage; and an unsuccessful attack by the British on New Orleans. The war is usually seen as a draw. However, as this book demonstrates, it was in fact a British victory. The United States achieved none of its war aims, and the peace, concluded in December 1814, met Britain's long-term maritime needs.
This book reassesses the war, showing how the British achieved success through an effective commercial maritime blockade which had devastating consequences on the vulnerable, undeveloped US economy. Neutral vessels were included - one of the causes of the war had been the United States' objection to British interference with US ships in Britain's war with Napoleonic France - and Britain's refusal to concede this point enabled the strategy of commercial maritime blockades to be reused by Britain to good effect in subsequent wars, including those of 1914-18 and 1939-45.

BRIAN ARTHUR gained a PhD at the University of Greenwich in Britain, following research in the United States which was completed with the aid of a Caird North America Fellowship from the National Maritime Museum in London.

Reviews

[An] excellent book. AUSMARINE

[An] important read for anyone interested in the war, or the history of blockade, particularly as Arthur follows the evolution of the strategy through the world wars. THE NYMAS REVIEW

A significant achievement in historical scholarship. [...] An outstanding work. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY

A well-rounded examination from a fresh perspective. Readers will find themselves rethinking what they know of this period in American history. [...] This scholarly and objective work provides vital research material to those who study this Anglo-American war. PIRATES AND PRIVATEERS

Provocative, well-researched, and cogently argued. [This] is an important work about the critical element of British strategy in the war. It is deeply referenced, strongly argued and a necessary corrective to American myths. NAVAL HISTORY

This is the most carefully researched book on the effectiveness of the British blockade of the United States during this conflict to have yet been published. Arthur demonstrates how a bold use of sea power, with its advantages of mobility and surprise, can be a very effective weapon. [...] For American scholars, this volume is one to be read, studied, and added to their bookshelves, for it fills a gap in the economic historiography of the War of 1812. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

Truly a major achievement of scholarship. [...] Demonstrates that there is more to sea power than just ships and battles. NAVY NEWS

Details

First Published: 17 Nov 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843836650
Pages: 352
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
Subject: Modern History
BIC Class: HBLL

Details updated on 28 Nov 2014

Contents

  • 1  Foreword by Andrew Lambert
  • 2  Convoys and Blockades: The Evolution of Maritime Economic Warfare
  • 3  War at a Distance: Constraints and Solutions
  • 4  From Business Partners to Enemies: Britain and the United States Before 1812
  • 5  The United States Blockaded: Admiral Warren's 'United Command', August 1812-April 1814
  • 6  Blockades and Blunders: Vice-Admiral Cochrane's Command, April 1814-February 1815
  • 7  Trade and War: The Effects of Warren's Blockades
  • 8  Capital and Credit: The Impact of the Final Phase
  • 9  Results and Conclusions
  • 10  Epilogue
  • 11  Appendix A: Maritime Tables
  • 12  Appendix B: Economic History Tables and Explanatory Material