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Re: [War Of 1812] Cryslers Farm "what if"

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  • Thomas Hurlbut
    Well, Brown and Scott were doing great things in Wilkinson s vanguard and how well the militia would have fought in Quebec will always be a matter of
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 2, 2007
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      Well, Brown and Scott were doing great things in Wilkinson's vanguard and how well the militia would have fought in Quebec will always be a matter of conjecture, won't it?

      What I meant to say, though, was would the US have retained Upper Canada at the treaty table even if they failed to take Montreal and the answer I believe, is a resounding "yes".

      Initially, the War of 1812 was, without a doubt, one of conquest for the US and one of survival for the British. In its later phases, you could argue that the roles were reversed in the war (although I agree that the Brits had little interest in retaining conquests, except maybe Maine and Mackinac). If you look at what each nation hoped to achieve, provided you look at the most favourable moment, it could be argued that both sides won. That's the way politicians paint everything.

      I think "what ifs" are fun to a point and provide fuel for conversation at officer's messes (particularly when we haven't yet "fought" the campaign being discussed), but I'm not sure it has any value on the list but to fuel the nationalism that seems to lurk just beneath the surface.

      As a Canadian who does American, I often look at the other side of the picture and, I endeavor to portray the men with honour who, in many cases, gave everything for the cause, no matter how flawed it may seem in hindsight.

      I think that's all any of us can do.

      "Major" Tom


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Dale Kidd
      ... wrote: If you look at what each nation hoped to achieve, provided you look at the most favourable moment, it could be argued that both sides won. That s
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 3, 2007
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        --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Hurlbut" <hurlbut8646@...>
        wrote:
        If you look at what each nation hoped to achieve, provided you look at
        the most favourable moment, it could be argued that both sides won.
        That's the way politicians paint everything.


        Hmmmm... I think, in the overall view of things, I would be more
        tempted to conclude that both sides LOST. Despite the nationalist
        feelings stirred by the conflict and the subsequent "national
        identities" that emerged in it's wake (for better or worse), it seems
        to me that the big picture illustrates merely a costly, ill-advised
        conflict that claimed countless lives for no profit to either side.

        ~Dale
      • Thomas Hurlbut
        Absolutely! A pointless war! But it may not have seemed so at the outset. Certainly, as I ve stated, there were those who died for this cause. Let s not forget
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 4, 2007
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          Absolutely! A pointless war!

          But it may not have seemed so at the outset. Certainly, as I've stated, there were those who died for this cause.

          Let's not forget them.

          "Major" Tom

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Dale Kidd
          To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 4:35 PM
          Subject: Re: [War Of 1812] Cryslers Farm "what if"


          --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Hurlbut" <hurlbut8646@...>
          wrote:
          If you look at what each nation hoped to achieve, provided you look at
          the most favourable moment, it could be argued that both sides won.
          That's the way politicians paint everything.

          Hmmmm... I think, in the overall view of things, I would be more
          tempted to conclude that both sides LOST. Despite the nationalist
          feelings stirred by the conflict and the subsequent "national
          identities" that emerged in it's wake (for better or worse), it seems
          to me that the big picture illustrates merely a costly, ill-advised
          conflict that claimed countless lives for no profit to either side.

          ~Dale





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • James Yaworsky
          ... wrote: [little snip] ... Canada at the treaty table even if they failed to take Montreal and the answer I believe, is a resounding yes . [big snip] If by
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 5, 2007
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            --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Hurlbut" <hurlbut8646@...>
            wrote:
            [little snip]
            > What I meant to say, though, was would the US have retained Upper
            Canada at the treaty table even if they failed to take Montreal and
            the answer I believe, is a resounding "yes".
            [big snip]


            If by the above, Tom meant to suggest that the U.S. would have
            *wanted* to retain Upper Canada at the treaty table, then I agree. If
            Tom meant to suggest that this is in fact the way the peace would have
            turned out, then I have to disagree.

            The overall strategic situation in Upper Canada was governed by
            relatively few factors, which I think can be set out as follows:

            1) Upper Canada had to be supplied by the St. Lawrence river
            (vulnerable to attack from the American bank) and then across Lake
            Ontario (naval superiority necessary to control) then across the
            length of the "front" on the Niagara (parallel to the defended front
            rather than at a ninety degree angle to same: not a nice strategic
            position to be in), then along the Upper Lakes (again, naval
            superiority necessary to control, and involving the Detroit River
            bottleneck, where the River was not only the line of supply, but the
            front line…).

            But even more so than the vulnerability of the supply line in to Upper
            Canada to American attack was the inherent inadequacy of the route to
            move sufficient amounts of supplies.

            This was shown in the late summer and fall of 1814, when the British
            had control of the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario, yet had to "evacuate"
            Regiments that had been weakened or shot up to Lower Canada, so that
            the fresh "reinforcement" regiments could be kept supplied.

            In other words, even with full control of the route, there wasn't
            enough "lift" available to move supplies in sufficient quantities to
            allow for a bigger force to be deployed in Upper Canada, even though
            more regiments were available in Lower Canada.

            2) Upper Canada was almost totally undeveloped and even in peace time
            could barely raise enough food to supply its rather small population,
            which made the supply issue even more critical in war.

            3) the U.S. had several viable "invasion routes" in to Upper Canada,
            with relatively secure lines of communication proceeding from
            relatively secure bases like Pittsburgh and Albany.

            4) British pre-war planning knew points 1-3, and the plan was
            therefore to withdraw "downstream" as far as was necessary to be in a
            secure and viable position - even as far as Quebec City. But the
            intention was then to return when reinforcements from the UK arrived.
            Upper Canada was British territory and ultimately would not be given
            up. Think "Falkland Islands"...

            5) from the British perspective, by the time of Crysler's Farm,
            battles had been won and blood shed in defence of Upper Canada, and
            the war against Napoleon was going relatively well. So... Upper
            Canada was *British* territory and ultimately *would not* be given up...

            6) given the supply "lift" problem in defending or recapturing Upper
            Canada (or using it as an offensive base, for that matter), British
            strategists came up with the idea of putting pressure on the U.S. by
            attacking its extensive coastline, where the Royal Navy could apply
            pressure just by blockade, as well.


            Putting points 1 to 6 together, it is evident that even if the
            Americans had captured Upper Canada in 1812, and even more so if only
            by late 1813, the British could - and just as importantly, *would* -
            have "put the squeeze" on the U.S. coasts to the point where the
            American people and government would have eventually undoubtedly
            agreed to give Upper Canada back. After all, Upper Canada was *not*
            *American* territory, and was still largely an undeveloped wilderness
            – of which, the U.S. had a plentiful supply at the time!


            What could stop the British from applying such pressure? I would
            suggest that only events in Europe could affect British policy to this
            extent. In 1812-15, the U.S. simply did not have the military power
            to be able to thwart the British.

            So, examining the possible scenarios in Europe:

            a) Napoleon wins by striking some devastating blow to the U.K.: the
            only blow that would fit the bill would have been an invasion of Great
            Britain.
            How likely was that to happen?

            But if it did, then British resolve to defend Upper Canada might have
            been broken.

            b) Napoleon wins by wearing the British down, and a "Peace of Amiens"
            1802 scenario unfolds: The British realize they just can't beat
            Napoleon, who consolidates his rule over Europe, bringing the Russians
            on side and driving the British out of and completing the subjugation
            of Iberia.
            How likely was this to happen? More likely than "a", that's for sure!

            If it did happen this way, then would the U.S. be able to count on a
            still powerful Britain, frustrated in Europe, letting them occupy
            Upper Canada? To ask the question is to answer it, methinks...

            c) the wars in Europe go on and on and on, and the British are simply
            never able to send sufficient resources to defend or recapture Upper
            Canada. Eventually, enough time has passed and they lose the desire to
            try.
            This is probably the scenario that realistic American War Hawks were
            counting on. It's unfortunate for them that just as the War broke out,
            Napoleon was marching in to Russia...

            d) Napoleon is beaten in Europe, releasing large British forces for
            redeployment to whatever other task is at hand.
            Hey, this is what in fact happened!
            Can there be any doubt that even if all of Upper Canada was captured
            by the Americans in 1813, that the British would have continued the
            war until the Americans agreed to give it back?


            Jim Yaworsky
            41st
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