American frigates won a series of single-ship engagements with British frigates, and American privateers continually hurried British shipping. The captains and crew of the frigates constitution and United States became renowned throughout America. Meanwhile, the British gradually tightened a blockade around America's coasts, ruining American trade, threatening American finances, and exposing the entire coastline to British attack.
U.S. forces were not ready for war, and American hopes of conquering Canada collapsed in the campaigns of 1812 and 1813. The initial plan called for a three-pronged offensive: from Lake Champlain to Montreal; across the Niagara frontier: and into Upper Canada from Detroit. The attacks were uncoordinated, however, and all failed. In the West, General William Hull surrendered Detroit to the British in August 1812 and on the Niagara front, American troops lost the Battle of Queenston Heights in October. Also along Lake Champlain, the American forces withdrew in late November without seriously engaging the enemy.
There was a standoff at Niagara, and an elaborate attempt to attack Montreal by a combined operation involving one force advancing along Lake Champlain and another sailing down the Saint Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. That operation failed at the end of the year. The only success was in the West. The Americans won control of the Detroit frontier region when Oliver Hazard Perry's ships destroyed the British fleet on Lake Eric. This victory forced the British to retreat eastward from the Detroit region, and they were overtaken and defeated at the battle of the Thames by an American army under the command of General William Henry Harrison. In this battle, the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who had harassed the northwestern frontier since 1811, was killed while fighting on the British side.
The situation was particularly serious for the United States because the country was bankrupt by the fall of 1814, and in... [continues]
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