When the United States first declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812 President James Madison believed that the conquest of the British North American colonies would be, in the words of past president Thomas Jefferson, a “mere matter of marching” and a swift and decisive victory was all but guaranteed “with the final expulsion of England from the American continent.” However, this swift victory did not come to pass.
To make matters worse, in April 1814 now almost two years into the war, the British victory over Napoleon allowed them to focus a larger contingent of their regular troops and ships on an offensive against the invading United States.
Henry Bathurst, the Earl of Bathurst, who was the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, sent ships from their base in Bermuda to form a blockade of the American coast. The war was to be taken to the Americans by attacking in Virginia and New Orleans. Additionally, the British concentrated forces in the Chesapeake area to divert American attention from Upper and Lower Canada’s borders.
Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost, Governor General of the Canadas, wanted to punish the American forces in retaliation for what he called the "wanton destruction of private property along the north shores of Lake Erie" by American forces under Lieutenant Colonel John B. Campbell. A series of raids by the Americans where made against British posts at Port Dover, Charlottesville, Patterson 's Creek and Long Point, Upper Canada in May 1814. The most destructive of these attacks was the burning of private homes and businesses in the village of Dover. This attack was made the subject of a Court of Enquiry conducted by US Brigadier General Winfield Scott, in June 1814, in wh...
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...her tax revenues to the funding of the war efforts.
While the battle was raging diplomats were meeting in Ghent, Belgium to being peace talks that would result in the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814.
Spoils of War
As they were leaving Washington the British forces took two large portraits, of King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte Sophia, which had been discovered in one of the public buildings. The spoils were taken with them when the ships ultimately returned to Bermuda. Since then, they have hung in the Parliament of Bermuda.
Artifacts taken from by American forces during the Battle of York are still on display in the National Museum of the United States Navy.The first Mace of Upper Canada that was captured by the Americans was returned 1934, under a special good-will order of President F.D. Roosevelt and the United States Congress.
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