The War of 1832, often called the Mexican War, was a military conflict between the British Empire and an alliance of Mexican rebels and Piedmont, Pennsylvania, New England, and New York. The war was sparked when Piedmont intervened in the Mexican Revolution on the side of the Mexican rebels, causing Britain to declare war.
Ohio and the territories to the west had been disputed between Pennsylvanian settlers and Native American tribes since the state of Ohio was created. The Native Americans, under the leadership of Black Hawk, had a vision of expelling the settlers. A confederation was formed of the Native American tribes which attempted to prevent Pennsylvanian expansion. Great Britain gave the confederation weapons and ammunition, hoping to establish "neutral" Indian state that would include Ohio. This state would act as a buffer between the fledgling American nations and British Canada. The other nations began to fear that Britain would establish other Indian states, blocking their planned expansion. This along with new, powerful assaults of settlers increased the tension between Britain and Pennsylvania.
NationalismSince succeeding in their endeavor for independence, the four American nations entered the Era of Good Feelings. Having defeated a global power, and the fact the economy was booming and trade was increasing, a sense of superiority was created. Politicians known as "War Hawks" promoted war with Great Britain and expansion into British Louisiana and or Canada. They believed that their nation should uphold their national honor in the face of what was considered British insults. The worst was the Chesapeake Affair in 1825, when a British ship attacked and boarded a Piedmontese ship looking for deserters. This led to calls of war, and Piedmont President James Monroe attempted to use the incident to force Britain to settle the matter. British envoys showed no sorrow for the attack and reaffirmed impressment. This, along with impressment, marred Monroe's record. Monroe was beaten in the 1826 election by the leader of the War Hawks, Henry Clay.
Nationalism was rampant in Britain and its colonies. The belief in Manifest Destiny, that Britain was destined to control all of North America. By 1830, it was well on its way, having colonies in Canada, the Pacifica, and Mexico. Colonists soon believed that the four rebellious American nations was the only obstacle standing in the way. Calls for war increased, and even Louisiana Governor-General Andrew Jackson asked the mother country for permission to declare war. Britain denied, because it had another threat to deal with: the Mexican Revolution.
Declaration of WarFollowing the Battle of Jonesborough, Henry Clay approached the Piedmont Congress with a list of grievances that had been committed against the nation by Great Britain and called for a declaration of war. The House of Representatives voted in support in the declaration of war, which the Senate agreed by 10 to 2. Clay signed the measurement into law, formally beginning the war on October 4, 1832. Pennsylvania, under the presidency of George Wolf, declared war on October 12.
Andrew Jackson received the news five days later. He issued a proclamation alerting the citizens to the state and urged all military personal "to be vigilant and be ready for war". Communication with the enemy was discouraged, and anybody suspected of helping the Piedmontese or Pennsylvanians was arrested. Michigan president George Bryan Porter announced that he would support the British.
Despite years of tense relations and threats of war, neither side was ready for the war. Most of the colonial British troops were serving in Mexico, and the Royal Navy was blockading the Gulf of Mexico. The total number of British troops in Louisiana and Canada was around 8,000 which were supported by local militia. Prime Minister Charles Grey told Jackson and John Colborne, the Governor-General of Canada, to adopt a defensive strategy. In addition, 10,000 British troops that were stationed in England were sent overseas.
Piedmont was somewhat more prepared. By the time war was the army consisted of fewer than 10,000 men, supported by militia. Thousands more joined following the expansion of the army to 35,000 men. However, Clay believed the war would be quickly and easily won, so many men that were under trained and under supplied were sent to the front.
Around 800 militiamen were sent to help Captain James Greene Hardy take Jonesborough in December. During the Second Battle of Jonesborough, Hardy set up cannons along the hills that surrounded the city. Militia commander William Hall, after a failed attack on the Piedmont positions, ordered his troops to fall back to Chattanooga, not wanted to be attacked by the cannons. Hardy rode into Jonesborough unopposed, however during the following nights the army was raided by Cherokee warriors. During one raid several cannons were destroyed, which was one of Hardy's main advantages.
Hardy then lead an attack on Chattanooga, where the Cherokee were located. He was surprised to find that the Cherokee, under the command of John Ross, had been supplied with cannons and powerful muskets. Hardy's force was defeated, and he retreated back to Jonesborough. There, he and the soldiers built fortifications and walls in order to hold the city from future raids. By New Year's Eve both sides had bogged down in their attacks, though the war was heating up in other areas.
War in Georgia and Ohio
The Piedmont 4th Army consisted of 1,200 soldiers and was under the command of Thomas Walker Gilmer. Gilmer's force was sent to capture Georgia from the British. Opposing him was Charles J. MacDonald, who had gotten together a rag tag bunch of militia men. Gilmer first defeated MacDonald at Dahlonega on November 8, and took control over the vast amount of gold. This and the victory in Jonesborough was used as propaganda, with Clay declaring, "This war should be over by Christmas." However, Piedmont was about to face much harder challenges.
MacDonald retreated to Rocky Face Ridge, where he was reinforced by 1,000 militiamen and 300 Cherokee warriors who were entrenched in the mountains. Gilmer's men attacked head-on, which led to their defeat. Gilmer leave some of his force as a distraction, and use the remaining soldiers to flank MacDonald's position and defeat the small British force at Eastanallee. This was successfully done on November 15th, forcing MacDonald to leave his superior position and defend the city. The two battled to a standstill until Piedmont soldiers crossed the Eastanallee River, threatening to cut off British supply lines. MacDonald was forced to retreat again, this time to Marietta. Gilmer pursued, but was prevented by making huge gains by the famed and skilled British cavalry.By now the 4th Army outnumbered the British. During the Battle of Marietta, the British soldiers were holding the Piedmontese back, but Gilmer managed to extend his lines beyond that of MacDonald's, flanking them once again. MacDonald shifted his lines to protect his supply route, but when it became apparent the British were going to be encircled, he ordered his men to take up positions on Kennesaw Mountain. Gilmer, spurred on by his recent victories, attempted a frontal assault. MacDonald's men held their ground, causing Gilmer to end his attack.
However, the British could now send in reinforcements faster. 800 soldiers and militiamen under the command of James E. Broome were sent to Kennesaw Mountain, and arrived on November 22nd. The next day, Gilmer launched another frontal assault using artillery, but they were repulsed again. Gilmer then attempted to send two brigades across Olley's Creek, but Broome's reinforcements held them back. A cavalry charge was then defeated, forcing Gilmer to call of his assault. The British win in the Battle of Kennesaw ended Piedmont's momentum and the thought of an early victory.
Invasion of MichiganPennsylvania's plan was to quickly take over important locations and end the war as quickly as possible. The 3,000 soldiers in the Army of Pittsburgh, under the command of Francis R. Shunk, was sent north to conquer the city of Detroit and the knock Michigan out of the war. Meanwhile, the 3,500 strong Army of Cleveland, under the command of Wilson Shannon, was sent west to take control of Fort Chicago in Louisiana. However, both sides met opposition.
The Army of Pittsburgh successfully took out Michigan's armies at Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, making Pennsylvania overconfident. "Taking out Michigan is simply a matter of marching," President Wolf is reported to have stated. However, the Michigan armies led by James Wright Gordon had sorted themselves out and assembled at Sterling Heights, 23 miles from Detroit.
On November 3, Shunk's armies, following an artillery strike, began a charge against Michigan's positions, beginning the Battle of Sterling Heights. Michigan successfully defended Sterling Heights the first day, and Shunk called off his attack at nightfall. During that night, thousands of British troops arrived at the Heights to help fight. The next day, Shunk committed another assault, and was surprised by the British arrival. The Army of Pittsburgh was decimated, with hundreds of casualties. Shunk ordered the retreated, and Gordon decided to give chase, pursuing the Pennsylvanians back to the city of Warren. Shunk was thrashed once again, and ordered a full retreat back to Ann Arbor. By November 10, the Army of Pittsburgh was reduced to 2,000 men.