Letters: War of 1812 sadly buried in annals of history


Ross Kardon; Philadelphia

One of the reasons the War of 1812‘s bicentennial is largely ignored in the USA might be the role played by Native Americans in preserving Canada. Indigenous fighters fought alongside British and Canadian allies helping to defeat the U.S. at key battles such as Queenston Heights, Chateuaguay, Beaver Dams, Lundy’s Lane and Crsyler’s Farm (“War of 1812 bicentennial: USA shrugs as Canada goes all out“).

  • Shawnee Chief Tecumseh: Credited with helping save Canada from U.S. invasions in 1812.AP

    Shawnee Chief Tecumseh: Credited with helping save Canada from U.S. invasions in 1812.

Additionally, the remarkable military leadership of Tecumseh, the Shawnee patriot, disproves the myth Native Americans fighters could not conduct complex battle strategy and tactics. He personally commanded native and non-native forces to victory at the battles of Brownstown, River Raisin and Fort Miamis. He also secured the surrender of Fort Detroit, a humiliating defeat in U.S. military history.

But rather than acknowledge that Native American forces were equal, and often superior, to U.S. troops, some historians have elected to obscure the war itself. In Canada, Tecumseh and his Native American fighters are rightfully acknowledged as having saved the nation, and so should they be in the U.S.

Doug George-Kanentiio; Oneida Castle, N.Y.

‘Don’t give up the ship’

USA TODAY overlooked another reason to remember this war.

My ancestor was Capt. James Lawrence, who commanded the USS Chesapeake and lost against a much larger British frigate in one of the earliest naval battles of the war. He was mortally wounded by small-arms fire when his ship was boarded by British Royal Navy forces. With his dying words, he coined the phrase: “Don’t give up the ship,” which later became a motto of the Navy.

Even after his death, he continued to be a victim of war. After the war was over, he was buried at the United Trinity Church in New York City, where his grave site later became covered in dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

George Halo; Forked River, N.J.

Technological differences

The United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in what is now Belgium on Dec. 24, 1814, ending the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans happened on Jan. 8, 1815. Even though the War of 1812 was already over, in those days it was impossible to spread the news of the war’s end in time to prevent the battle. News traveled very slowly then.

Today, we have the Internet, e-mail, fax machines, texting and, of course, intercontinental telephone and cellphone systems. In this day and age, news travels around the world in a split second.

If the world of 200 years ago had this kind of technology, the Battle of New Orleans would never have happened. Just imagine Andrew Jackson throwing his cellphone in fit of rage at not being able to get revenge on the British for what happened to him during his youth.

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