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From: (Jan J.)
Subject: War of 1812-14 Foreword
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 17:11:15 -0400 (EDT)
In-Reply-To: Marge Pacheco <>'s message of Sat, 23 Aug2003 09:58:32 -0700 (PDT)

On page 3 and 4:
Napoleon, dominating Europe after the tremendous battle of Austerlitz in
1805, issued decrees declaring the continent closed to British good, and
ordered all vessels seized that touched at a British port. England,
still master of the seas when Admiral Nelson shattered the combined
fleets of France and Spain off Cape Trafalgar in october of the same
year, retaliated by seizing all merchant vessels which did not touch at
British ports; and in consequence American ocean trade, in 1808-1809,
President Madison tried by desperate diplomacy to bride England and
France to bid against each other for our trade. It happened at this
time that British seamen deserted to the higher paid and better treated
American merchantmen [D.S. Muzzey, American History, p. 221]; and
England, contemptuous of American naval weakness, exercised the 'right
of search' on American vessels to recover her sorely needed seaman. In
May 1811, our frigate "President", chasing a British cruiser on which a
Massachusetts citizen was impressed, was fired upon by a British sloop
of war. American indignation was great. After Governor Harrison of the
Northwest Territory had reported British ammunition in the hands of
Indians, and Henry Clay's brilliant oratory had stirred great popular
excitement, President Madison wrote a fiery message against British
outrages, and on June 18, 1812, Congress declared war.

The United States was woefully unprepared. The regular army numbers
less than seven thousand men, many of them raw recruits. Our fifteen
ships had to match England's one thousand. Much went amiss. The
commander at Detroit was court martialed and sentenced to death for
timid abandonment of his post, and the generals at the other end of Lake
Erie fought duels over mutual charges of cowardice instead of advancing
against the enemy. Clay had boasted that the Conquest of Canada could
be accomplished by a small body of militia, but events proved that
except for the victory of Perry's little Lake Erie fleet and
Macdonough's brilliant maneuvers on Lake Champlain, we could hardly have
been saved from a disastrous British invasion from Canada. Cheered by
Perry's famous dispatch, "We have met the enemy and they are ours,"
Harrison recaptured Detroit, but in August, 1814, a small British force
raided Washington and burned the city. Fortunately for us, however,
England was principally engaged in fighting France, so that the United
States had had time to build a few necessary ships. Though our Navy was
still small, the exploits of such frigates as "Old Ironsides" proved the
genius of American seamanship, and by a series of surprising triumphs
kept the country in a fever of rejoicing. The war was disastrous to
American exports, but fortunately our Navy in two years had captured
some 2000 British merchantmen, and England, worn by trouble on all
sides, signed peach with us at Ghent on Christmas eve, 1814.

Such in brief are the facts relating to the War of 1812. Vermont's
position as a state bordering both on Lake Champlain and Canada laid her
open to especial danger, and made her part in the campaigns particularly
important. When British impressment of American seamen had first
stirred the nation in 1807, the Vermont Legislature adopted, by a vote
of 169 to 1, a resolution which they forward to President Jefferson in
1807, in which they declared: "And we do further for ourselves and our
constituents declare that, fearless of the dangers to [which] we may be
exposed as a frontier state, we shall be ever ready to obey the call of
our common country, whenever it shall be necessary either for the
purposes of redress or vengeance." [Vt. Assembly Journal 1807 p. 230.]
Jefferson, though not needing the help of Vermonters at the time,
replied that their sentiments were 'worthy of their know patriotism.'
Again in 1809, after further outrages, the Legislature sent a similar
message to President Madison, who received it with equal gratitude.
Consequently when Madison issued his proclamation of war, Governor Jonas
Galusha and the legislature sustained the government and passed laws
immediately to prohibit intercourse with Canada.

But is must be understood, that, though Vermonters could be stirred to
patriotic fury by British indignities on the high seas, they were not
all so eager to see their livelihood endangered by laws forbidding
commerce with Canada. In consequence Galusha and the Democratic
legislature were opposed in the 1813 elections by the Federalists who
succeeded by a hotly contested vote of 112 to 111 in declaring Martin
Chittenden as governor - a man who opposed the war. Yet there was no
doubt as to the loyalty of the state as a whole."

For detailed accounts of Vermonters engaged in battles, see "Spooner's
Vermont Journal" of August 5, 1814; and particularly the letter probably
written by Lieut. F. A. Sawyer of Burlington in the "Northern Sentinel"
of August 19, 1814."

Source is "State of Vermont ROSTER of SOLDIERS in the WAR of 1812-14",
prepared and published under the direction of Herbert T. Johnson, the
Adjutant General, 1933.
Transcribed by Jan Jordan

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