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Alternate History

1812-1856 (Hail, Columbia)

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The War of 1812

The War Hawks had managed to convince Madison to go to war with the British, and a state of war existed between the two nations as of June 18th, 1812. Madison expected that Canada would fall easily and the war would be over soon. The size of America's army was set to be 35,000 men, but service was extremely unpopuar, due to poor pay and lack of interest in fighting outside of one's own state. The men were inexperienced, had no training, and lacked discipline; nevertheless, General William Hull led the army from Michigan into Canada, capturing Windsor, Ontario, with plans to capture York. Once the invasion was discovered, British forces under Isaac Brock were sent to deal with the threat.

American Losses

Isaac Brock

Isaac Brock leading the defense in Canada

The British were not fully prepared for war, with most of their army in Europe fighting Napoleon's. However, Brock managed to recruit thousands of Canadian militia, who were eager to defend their country. Brock's army of British regulars, Canadian militia, and Native American warriors destroyed Hull's forces, who retreated back to Detroit. Brock pressed onward, and captured Detroit in August. This cost America control of their northwest territories. A disorganized invasion through Niagra later that year failed as well.

An important battle during the war was the Battle of Lake Erie, which was decisively won by the British. The failure meant that the British could still supply their Native American allies, led by Tecumseh. The Indians lead several campaigns across the northwestern territories, and claimed the land the British promised would be formed into a Native American confederacy.

The failure of the early campaigns meant that the war would not be over as quickly as expected. Madison replaced Secretary of War William Eustis with John Armstrong, Jr. Armstrong planned a new coordinated invasion in 1813, but failed because his troops were ill-trained, ill-prepared, and ill-supplied. The British held off the Americans and forced them to retreat.

British Victories

With the war with Napoleon over, waves of veterans from Europe arrived in America. British General Prevost launched an invasion of upstate New York after the navy sucessfully captured Lake Champlain. A decisive victory at Plattsburgh left New York open to British attack, causing a panic in the northern cities. Meanwhile, British forces invaded Maine, which lacked adequate defenses. A major uproar was caused when the other New England states refused to send aid to help defend it. Across New York and Maine British soldiers looted and left paths of destruction.

800px-US Capitol 1814c

The Capitol Building after being burned by the British

More unfortunate news comes for the Americans. Indian raids have spread south, with families being slaughtered across the frontier and forced to retreat, where they suffer from hunger and poverty. The British blockade the coastline, and despite isolated victories by American ships, exports are destroyed and the economy is in ruins. The War Hawks are now quieter, but continue to support the war until British soldiers are landed in Washington DC. The White House and other government buildings are torched. The British continue, eventually threatening Baltimore and the rest of Maryland.

The greatest defeat of the war would actually occur after the burning. British forces, intent on seizing the vast Louisiana Territory, had landed in Louisiana and planned on capturing New Orleans, which was defended by Andrew Jackson. Jackson put up a galliant defense, but until in our own timeline, British plans went smoothly. Jackson was killed, and British forces occupied the city, with all of Louisiana open to be taken.

Peace and Secession

Following the British victory at New Orleans, the Americans knew the war was over. The toll of the war was greatest in New England, whose businesses and merchants have suffered from the blockade. Trade with the rest of the world had been stopped, with thousands being out of work. In the winter of 1814, Federalist delegates met in the Hartford Convention in order to discuss their grievances with the American government. At the time, the British advance in Maine was still a threat, and many feared Boston would be assaulted. Secession was not seriously considered until Jackson's terrible defeat at New Orleans. The delegates finally decided secession would be the best course of action, in order to "uphold it's duty to assert its authority over unconstitutional infringements on its sovereignty." On February 22, independence was declared.

Madison attempted to halt the secession by sending soldiers, but Massachusetts Governor Strong had secretly met with the British to secure peace. The British soldiers defended New England, and would only accept peace if New England was allowed to seceede. Relunctantly, Madison agreed.

The Treaty of Ghent was signed in March 1815. In terms of land, the British were the winners, and took the Oregon Territory and created an Indian Confederacy in Michigan, Ohio, and the other territories surrounding the Great Lakes. Madison accepted the terms, and the war was declared over.

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