The War of 1812

The War of 1812

The War of 1812

The War of 1812

Excerpt

The war of 1812 receives mention, of course, in all general histories of the United States. In recent years individual incidents or special phases have served as subjects for historical or fictional treatment. But, so far as the writer has been able to discover, not since Benson J. Lossing published his Field Book in 1868 has anyone presented a volume devoted exclusively to the war as a whole.

The present work was, therefore, undertaken with the purpose of filling the gap and bringing up to date events which happened long ago but which have an important bearing on the happenings of today. It is the belief of the writer that those who persevere until the end of the story will discover many things that they have forgotten, or never knew, and many that will surprise them. It is his hope that they will feel their effort has been worth while.

I am indebted to Mr. Philip M. Wagner, editor of the Baltimore Sun for first suggesting a book. He proposed a humorous approach. But as the work progressed it soon became apparent that, while the war frequently assumed the nature of opéra bouffe, there were heroic episodes and serious overtones that did not lend themselves to frivolous handling. In the end the plan adopted was to let the story tell itself.

In preparing the volume I have depended principally upon Lossing's Field Book and Henry Adams' History of the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Lossing cannot be classified as a scholar in the narrow sense of the term. But he was an enthusiast whose work gives evidence throughout of complete familiarity with the best authorities of his day. He visited all the important scenes of action, talked with many eyewitnesses and made delightful sketches to illustrate his book. Though his style is a trifle florid and his partisanship sometimes seems to influence his judgment he stands up well when checked against other writers. Only the captious would scorn his important contribution to the subject.

Henry Adams is the perfect antidote to Lossing's vergings toward the sentimental. No consideration of national patriotism or provincial pride discouraged him from describing individuals and events . . .

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