John R.Elting

Amateurs, to Arms!

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“A gripping narrative of an unpopular and badly fought war—a century and a half before Vietnam—that will shock the uninformed reader.” —Military History
Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. From a feckless Congress to the treason of many citizens who fed and praised the enemy, America faced overwhelming odds. The young country was invaded along three frontiers, the national capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a definite possibility.
In Amateurs, to Arms!, military historian John R. Elting examines the war from both the British and American points of view. With expert analysis and lively prose, he recounts the campaign of “Mr. Madison’s War”: the US invasion of Canada; the key naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain; the British invasion via the Chesapeake Bay and its repulse at Baltimore; and the campaign leading to the American victory at New Orleans, which was ironically fought and won after the war was over.
Specially prepared maps and numerous illustrations complement Elting’s vivid, penetrating account of how the young republic fought and nearly lost its “Second War for Independence.”
“This is a lively, well-written account of one of America’s long-forgotten, but decidedly major wars.” —Publishers Weekly
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575 printed pages
Original publication


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