THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (April 6-April 12, 1814)
Bad News from Europe
Despite naval victories on Lake Erie and in head-to-head battles at sea, the war is not going well for the United States. Numerous attempts to invade Canada across the Niagara and St. Lawrence frontiers in New York and Vermont have failed – usually because of poor communication and inept leadership.
The frigate USS Essex has been taken by the British off the coast of South America. Another, the USS United States, is bottled up by the British Navy in Connecticut’s Thames River along with two other vessels – the Macedonian and the Hornet. Yet another frigate, the USS Constellation, is trapped at Norfolk, Virginia by the widening British naval blockade of U.S. ports.
Though disappointed by the setbacks, President James Madison is still hopeful the British will come to the negotiating table to rid themselves of a military distraction while still battling Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe.
But the emperor’s ambitions have met with defeat and setbacks following his ruinous invasion of Russia in 1812-1813. A coalition of Austria, Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sweden and several smaller German states has pushed Napoleon’s armies out of Germany and Spain. On March 31, Paris falls to the allies. French lawmakers and a growing number of generals refuse withdraw their support for Napoleon and within days the emperor is forced to abdicate. On April 11, 1814 the Treaty of Fontainebleau is signed by representatives of France, Austria, Russia and Prussia – ending Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of the French.
On the same day in London, The Times notes that reinforcements for British troops in North America “all sailed last week,” according to George C. Daughan, in his history “1812 The Navy’s War.” The troops, many of them veterans of Wellington’s campaign against the French in Spain, are headed to Bermuda and then to Quebec. Plans are being drawn up to attack the U.S. capital, Washington, and New Orleans. The number of British regulars opposing the Americans will swell to about 35,000 troops by the end of 1814.
Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions, Washington. Tags: Napoleon Bonaparte abdication, Napoleonic Wars, naval warfare, President James Madison, Topics, War of 1812 - 1814 events, War of 1812 Bicentennial.