In many ways, it is considered a forgotten war. Between the United States and Britain as well as allies on each side, it seems the War of 1812 was confronting issues that were never completely solved in the War for Independence.
In today’s post, I am going to share 91 cool facts that you may not know about the War of 1812.
Let’s see how many of these facts you did know…
#1: Start And End
The War of 1812 started on June 18th, 1812 and ended completely on February 16th, 1815.
#2: 2 Wars For Great Britain
Great Britain was already at war with France when President Madison declared war on Britain too.
#3: Canada Recognizes This War Significantly
The War of 1812 is just a “spot” on American record books but Canada remembers it greatly. They did so with a War monument and spent $30,000,000 on the Bicentennial surrounding the war.
#4: The Amount Of United States Troops
The total amount of U.S. troops utilized in the War of 1812 was 286,730. In comparison:
- 231,000 served in the Revolution
- 2,750,000 served in the Civil War (both sides)
- 4,743,826 served in World War 1
- 16,100,000 served in World War 2
#5: Longer Than People Assume
You would think people would know more about the War of 1812. It lasted longer than:
- The Mexican – American War
- The Spanish – American War
- And the length of time the United States was in World War 1
#6: Dolly Didn’t Save George, A Servant Did
When the British came to the capital, it is often said that First Lady Dolly Madison saved the portrait of George Washington. Truth be told, she saved silver while a servant was able to retrieve the portrait of our first president.
#7: You May Not Know About The War But You Know The Song
The United States anthem was written during the War of 1812… The Star Spangled Banner.
#8: One Reason
One of the reasons the U.S. declared war was because Britain was blocking trade with foreign nations.
#9: 2nd Reason
The British were giving Indians arms to fight.
#10: 3rd Reason
United States sailors were being forced to serve on British ships.
#11: 4th Reason
Britain assumed that America was trying to take Canada.
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#12: Last Reason
The U.S. was trying to “keep face” against a plethora of British insults.
#13: The Liberation Of Canada
United States leadership assumed that Canadian citizens would accept U.S. military help thinking they were liberating our Northern neighbor from British rule. This turned out to be a failure of assumption.
#14: No British Imports
During the war, the U.S. closed all ports to British cargo and would not allow the Brits to sell their goods.
#15: Exaggerated Numbers?
Several U.S. politicians stated that President Madison greatly exaggerated the numbers of U.S. sailors the British took to serve on their ships. The State Department claimed the number was 6,257 while others said the number was just over 100.
#16: Stephen Girard Saved The U.S. From Financial Ruin
Girard was one of the richest men in the U.S. and he opened a bank in Philadelphia. The credit of the U.S. hit a low point toward the end of the War of 1812, but Girard extended nearly all the bank’s assets to ensure U.S. survival.
The Bank of Girard is now owned by Citizen’s Bank.
#17: The Name
It is the only war to be named after a year.
#18: U.S. Soldiers Killed
The number of U.S. soldiers killed in action was 2,260.
#19: British Soldiers Killed
The number of British soldiers killed in action was approximately 1,600.
#20: Escaping Slaves
The estimates show that around 3,000 slaves escaped to Canada and their freedom.
#21: I’ll Drink To That
The tune to a British drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven was used for the Star Spangled Banner.
#22: The Burning Of The White House
In August of 1814, British forces made their way to Washington and burned the Capitol and the White House. Before burning the White House, they ate the dinner that was prepared for the President and First Lady.
#23: Mass Bombing
When the British attacked Fort McHenry, they fired approximately 1,500 rockets and bombs… But Old Glory stood.
#24: The Saving Of The Patent Office
The clerk of the U.S. Patent Office through himself in front of British soldiers and convinced them not to burn the structure for the love of knowledge.
#25: The Winner Is???
When asked who won the War of 1812, many Canadian citizens will claim Canada did.
#26: Soldiers Or Sailors
The majority of U.S. sailors had much more battle experience than did U.S. soldiers. This came from British impressment and fighting pirates.
#27: Primary Weapon
The primary weapon used by soldiers was muzzle loading muskets that had a range of 100 yards.
#28: Near Secession
Massachusetts and other New England States considered seceding because the claimed that it was Madison’s War and people were near starvation.
#29: Treaty Signed
The British and Americans signed the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, but news traveled slowly and the War raged on.
#30: Uncle Sam
Legend has it that Uncle Sam was created during the War of 1812. A military vendor packed rations and his name was Sam Wilson. The outside of the container said U.S. Rations and one soldier was told the U.S. stood for Uncle Sam Wilson who was feeding them.
#31: The Winner Is???
Ask Americans who know about the War of 1812 who the winner is and the majority will say US because we won the Battle of New Orleans.
#32: Who Cares?
Ask the British who won the War of 1812, you will probably get a “Who Cares, but WE BURNED THEIR WHITE HOUSE!,” with roars of laughter.
#33: Disease Killed The Most
Diseases were the biggest killer in the War of 1812.
#34: Laura Secord
She is considered the Canadian, Female Paul Revere.
Laura walked over 20 miles from the U.S. to Canada to warn of a United States attack.
#35: Toronto Burning
I mentioned the British laughing about burning the White House, but they neglect to mention that Americans first burnt many buildings in York which is now Toronto.
#36: Stolen Lion
There is stolen property in the U.S. Naval Academy. It seems a British Imperial Lion was taken during the War and it is in the Naval Academy to this day.
#37: The Loser Is???
While no one can actually determine who the winner was, we do know who the loser was. American Indians lost a lot because of the War of 1812. Tecumseh was killed and British support was lost allowing the pushing of American Indians onto reservations.
#38: Stand Fast
I have always had great respect for Scottish Highlanders.
The 93rd Highlander Regiment was within range of the American forces. Their commanding officer was killed and they had no orders to push forward or retreat. They stood fast under enemy fire until a General came and ordered them to withdraw.
#39: The Battle On Lake Erie
Oliver Hazard Perry was the leader of a great battle on Lake Erie. This is when he wrote the famous line to General William Henry Harrison:
“We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”
Primary Battles Of 1812
#40: Fort St. Joseph
#41: Battle of Michilimackinac
#42: Fort Malden
#43: Capture of Detroit
Primary Battles Of 1813
#44: Battle of Ogdensburg
#45: Battle of York
#46: Battle of Fort George
#47: Battle of Stoney Creek
#48: Battle of Beaver Dams
#49: Battle of Lake Erie
#50: Battle of the Thames
#51: Battle of the Chateauguay
#52: Battle of Crysler’s Field
Primary Battles Of 1814
#53: Battle of Chippawa
#54: Battle of Lundy’s Lane
#55: Siege of Fort Erie
#56: James Madison
#57: Henry Dearborn
#58: Jacob Brown
#59: Winfield Scott
#60: Andrew Jackson
#61: William Henry Harrison
#62: William Winder
#63: William Hull
#64: Zebulon Pike
#65: James Lawrence
#66: Prince Regent George
#67: Lord Liverpool
#68: Sir George Prévost
#69: Sir Isaac Brock
#70: Gordon Drummond
#71: Charles de Salaberry
#72: Roger Hale Sheafe
#73: Robert Ross
#74: Edward Pakenham
#75: James FitzGibbon
#76: Alexander Cochrane
#77: James Lucas Yeo
More Cool Facts
The War of 1812 cost the United States approximately $105,000,000.
#80: Naval Power
When the War of 1812 began the British had 600 ships and the United States only had 18.
#81: Mother Nature Saved Washington D.C. From Complete Destruction
Thanks to a ferocious thunderstorm and a tornado, the British stopped destroying Washington D.C. and the rain put the fires out.
#82: The Last War Of 1812 Veteran
Was Hiram Silas Cronk who died in 1905 at 105 years old.
#83: The British Paid Slave Owners
After the end of the War of 1812, the British paid a total of $1,204,960 to compensate slave owners whose slaves escaped.
#84: The White House Almost Was Rebuilt In Philadelphia
Because of the huge damages in Washington D.C., Congress had a proposal of moving it all to Philadelphia. The vote was 83-74 to keep it where it is.
#85: Andrew Jackson And The Battalion
Andrew Jackson welcomed free blacks into service and organized the Battalion, Brave Fellow Citizens made up of all blacks.
#86: The U.S. Commandeered
The United States Navy captured 2 British warships and converted them into American warships.
#87: Four Future Presidents
There were 4 future Presidents who were leaders in the War of 1812:
- Andrew Jackson
- William Henry Harrison
- John Quincy Adams
- and James Monroe
#88: The Kentucky Militia
Was the most feared batch of soldiers in this War. They scalped many Indians.
#89: The Federalist Party
The War of 1812 was the beginning of the end for the Federalist Party, Their antiwar stance harmed them.
#90: The Library of Congress
Since the library burned, Thomas Jefferson sold his complete collection of books to rebuild the Library of Congress.
#91: The U.S.S. Constitution
Was given the nickname Old Ironsides because a British sailor saw a cannonball bounce off her and said it must be made of iron. It was actually oak.
I hope you enjoyed learning all these facts about the War of 1812 as much as I did researching and writing them for you.
Do you know any other facts that I missed?
Do you have any questions?
You can post comments and questions below.
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About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.