Could the Americans have won the war of 1812?

KCammy

Banned
There wasn't seriously any chance that the Americans could have won? I mean being outmatched, outnumbered, not having a proffessional army or navy, not having the rescources Britain had... etc. etc. etc.
 
We didn't exactly lose. (I just posted the start of a TL where we do lose.)

As for winning — getting Canada and being able to keep it — probably not. That would mean holding off the Royal Navy, which the U.S. definitely didn't have the resources to do.
 
The War of 1812 was basically a side theatre for the British who were busy dealing with Napoleon. Maybe if there was a big French victory in Europe the British would have more inclined to call for peace to free up their troops.
 
Still unlikely to be on much better terms than we got OTL.

The US might do less badly, but it simply is too weak to win.
 
The US would have been better served to concentrate their forces in Ogdensburg. The entirety of the British command in the west would have been imperiled if the Americans could win control of the St. Lawrence River at that point.
 
If they have decisive early victories and Britain remains completely distracted by a longer more viscous version of the Napoleonic wars, maybe.

But for the most part No.
 
With an earlier POD, if Hamilton becomes President, he would build a professional army and navy. then i'd say we have a chance
 
while we're on the matter, what would it have taken in order for the US to win to the point where the british surrender some territory to them? say, rupert's land?
 
More specifically than a miracle?

American conquest of Canada at least to the extent of the British conquest of it from France for starters.

The "no impressment" was met in 1812, so you might with a more serious American threat see that met earlier (and skip the war), but you'd have it happen by Britain choosing so, not by American victory.

Even if the US has a professional army and navy worth noting as opposed to Jefferson's sabotage of the two, it won't be enough to win a war with Britain unless Britain accepts losing here.
 
hm. what other wars were going on at the time, or could have begun at the time? that could divert british troops from the canada and the area around it to other parts. maybe some native allies that the americans use could also tip the balance
 

Eurofed

Banned
The War of 1812 was unwinnable to the USA only and only if Britain is not fighting the Napoleonic Wars at the same time. The war in North America always was a sideshow to London, and Canada nowhere that important to justify a fight to the death in 1812. If the USA win sufficiently decisive and early victories in 1812-1813, Britain may be lead to give up Canada and make peace before Napoleon is defeated. Britain would not bother to reopen the issue afterwards, for the same reasons they never seriously meant to reconquer the 13 Colonies after 1783.

IMO a PoD in 1800-1812 is necessary, which keeps the Federalists in power for most of the decade, and does away with the Jefferson presidency, or limits it to one term at the very most. The Jeffersonians horribly gutted the US military preparedness, and the US military could have been much, better than it was in 1812. The US Navy, for its small numbers, performed quite effectively vs. the Royal Navy. If the Federalists stay in power and there is an Hamilton Presidency, the USA shall open the conflict in a much better shape.
 
Let me put it this way.

Lightweight. Taking on a heavyweight.

The balance is so unfavorable to the US that even with the best event you can hope for in the Napoleonic Wars it is fighting against impossible odds.

Eurofed: Because its not as if Britain can't hold Canada and fight Napoleon. Oh no. :rolleyes:

Meanwhile, even a successful Federalist fleet (I don't know the details of their army plans, but I'm assuming they're similar in terms of how much of an improvement it would be on OTL) is smaller than just the part of the Royal Navy in the theater.

The US won single ship duels and a couple squadron battles on the Great Lakes (Ontario being fought with a naval equivalent to McClellan on the US side...well not that bad but it gives an idea of what we're talking about). Credible? Yes. A sign the US can win decisively at sea? Not in the least.
 
The War of 1812 was unwinnable to the USA only and only if Britain is not fighting the Napoleonic Wars at the same time. The war in North America always was a sideshow to London, and Canada nowhere that important to justify a fight to the death in 1812. If the USA win sufficiently decisive and early victories in 1812-1813, Britain may be lead to give up Canada and make peace before Napoleon is defeated. Britain would not bother to reopen the issue afterwards, for the same reasons they never seriously meant to reconquer the 13 Colonies after 1783.

IMO a PoD in 1800-1812 is necessary, which keeps the Federalists in power for most of the decade, and does away with the Jefferson presidency, or limits it to one term at the very most. The Jeffersonians horribly gutted the US military preparedness, and the US military could have been much, better than it was in 1812. The US Navy, for its small numbers, performed quite effectively vs. the Royal Navy. If the Federalists stay in power and there is an Hamilton Presidency, the USA shall open the conflict in a much better shape.
And if that happens Tecumseh finds out that the British Empire is very interested in his idea of a Pan-Indian Confederacy and he's got a blank check to create it, meaning the British Empire has a means to attack the direct heartland of the USA and enough to counterbalance a realistic larger army that the Federalists would be able to create.
 
And if that happens Tecumseh finds out that the British Empire is very interested in his idea of a Pan-Indian Confederacy and he's got a blank check to create it, meaning the British Empire has a means to attack the direct heartland of the USA and enough to counterbalance a realistic larger army that the Federalists would be able to create.
Then there's this.

At worst this makes things a lot harder for the US to balance any gains. At best...

Well, I like Tecumesh. So :D
 
The OTL war wasn't really a victory or a loss for either side, USA wasn't beaten badly enough to lose nor was it forced to concede anything of serious value to the British, the British largely ceded nothing to the USA at the same time though the greatest effect of the war was its implication. It basically meant for Britain that the Americans could be hampered but that they were here to stay and weren't just a bunch of upstarts with weak foundations that could simply be kicked in and then collapse.

America winning a small slice of Canada is probably about the best they can do (and they'd have to have a good amount of dumb luck in addition to a more intelligent invasion) without implementing gigantic pre-war changes to America's military at which point you can no longer call it the same War of 1812.

Also make Nappy last longer, he was the real reason for America's doing as well as it did (and that wasn't always too well in some cases...) and keep Britain distracted, if it realizes it's getting pummeled by the French on one end while its troops are committed to a boondoggle in America it's going to be more conciliatory than it was OTL because it really needs those extra troops.
 
There's not that many extra troops from the force in Canada, though. I don't have figures offhand, but I'm pretty sure British regulars were fairly thin on the ground.
 
Then there's this.

At worst this makes things a lot harder for the US to balance any gains. At best...

Well, I like Tecumesh. So :D
Tecumseh's Empire might not last an extended period of time, but it gives the Indian wars a very distinct character from OTL. Tecumseh would be the US Pope on a continental scale......:D
 
It depends on how you define victory. Could the Americans have defeated the British in such a way as to have gained Canada in the peace treaty? Probably not.

But then again, was that their primary goal? Why would America want Canada in the first place? Following the Louisiana Purchase, the USA had more land that it could shake a stick at or find settlers to fill. The idea behind invading Canada (initially) was not to annex it, but rather to use it as a hostage to gain concessions from the British in regards to issues in the Northwest (arming/supplying the natives), and issues on the high seas (impressment, trade etc.) which were far more pressing concerns. Though it is true that some of the "War Hawks" indeed wanted Canada annexed, these men were but a radical minority and could be silenced should America's other concerns be addressed in the peace treaty.

Operating under these constraints, then I think the Americans might have a slim chance of "victory". The key here would be for the Americans to focus on controlling the Great Lakes rather than invading via Detroit and the Niagara peninsula. This strategy was not unheard of and was proposed as early as the Chesapeake affair in 1807. This strategy, coupled with the right commanders, could bring an end to the campaign in Upper Canada almost immediately.

A strike on Kingston early in the war, with enough troops, would effectively sever the supply line to British forces in Upper Canada. Brock would be forced to retreat and the vital alliance between Tecumseh and him would most likely be severed. (Brock would of course attempt to convince Tecumseh to follow him into Canada, however to do so would be incredibly difficult for Tecumseh politically as it would isolate him from most of his support. Should he agree with Brock this would probably result in most of his confederacy choosing to defend their homelands rather than retreat into Upper Canada.) With control over Kingston and by extension Upper Canada, the Americans could then move on Lower Canada. Here too we must take into account the personality of Governor General George Prevost. In OTL following Brock's victory at Detroit he arranged an armistice with the Americans in the hopes of negotiating a peaceful settlement with the Americans. Given American control of Kingston and the Great Lakes, in TTL would he not do exactly the same thing, if only to buy time to prepare the defences of Lower Canada?

With the Americans in a much better place to negotiate from in TTL, this armistice might actually lead to a lasting peace. Britain's pre-occupation with Europe, coupled with it's willingness to compromise on issues of impressment and trade, as well as the severing of the alliance between Brock and Tecumseh due to Brock's forced retreat. No territory would change hands, but most of America's concerns would be addressed and in exchange Britain would be rid of a pesky distraction and feel free to concentrate on the war in Europe, not to mention guarantee peace on the North American continent.

Then again, Prevost's armistice could lead to nothing of the sort and America and Britain could spend the next year or two slugging it out in Lower Canada. Personally, I don't see either side getting the upper hand in such a campaign until the British are able to invest significant resources following the defeat of Napoleon. Should the Americans manage to secure a peace prior to Napoleons defeat they stand a chance at "winning". However it would be a victory without the annexation of Canada.
 
And if that happens Tecumseh finds out that the British Empire is very interested in his idea of a Pan-Indian Confederacy and he's got a blank check to create it, meaning the British Empire has a means to attack the direct heartland of the USA and enough to counterbalance a realistic larger army that the Federalists would be able to create.
And if that happens, the new federal army will be off fighting the Indian confederacy rather than picking a fight while Britain is distracted.:D
 
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