Disastrous War of 1812

Anaxagoras

Banned
What if the War of 1812 had turned out disastrously for the United States? In OTL, the end result was essentially a draw: American attacks into Canada failed, British attacks into New York failed, the British captured and burned Washington but then the British were beaten at New Orleans. The peace treaty simply restored the status quo ante bellum.

Suppose, however, that things had gone much worse for the United States. What if the war had ended with the British in firm control of sizable areas of American territory, particularly New Orleans and parts of upstate New York.

What are the effects of this?
 

Thande

Donor
Anaxogoras said:
What if the war had ended with the British in firm control of sizable areas of American territory, particularly New Orleans and parts of upstate New York.
Judging by other treaties of the period, the British would almost certainly hand it all back in exchange for some other treaty provision. The exception being New Orleans. I suppose the worst case scenario for the USA would be that Britain decides to retroactively not recognise the Louisiana Purchase and demand its return to Spain/Mexico/anyone really...
 
Thande said:
Judging by other treaties of the period, the British would almost certainly hand it all back in exchange for some other treaty provision. The exception being New Orleans. I suppose the worst case scenario for the USA would be that Britain decides to retroactively not recognise the Louisiana Purchase and demand its return to Spain/Mexico/anyone really...
Thande is right. The British would probably have handed it back in return for a guarantee or a treaty trying to limit American aggression at British territory in the future. Besides, the British were engaged in a larger and more important war in Europe at the same time. They needed the resources, troops and materials to fight France, it wasn't feasible to keep a large chunk of their fighting potential in North America.
 
Floid said:
Thande is right. The British would probably have handed it back in return for a guarantee or a treaty trying to limit American aggression at British territory in the future. Besides, the British were engaged in a larger and more important war in Europe at the same time. They needed the resources, troops and materials to fight France, it wasn't feasible to keep a large chunk of their fighting potential in North America.
Doesn't this all turn on where the British have done better and when exactly the peace talks are occurring. The British were from the start in a defensive war. Even if the Niagara campaign or Chateauguay was a worse defeat for the Americans, I don't think the Brits and Canadians would have had the manpower or resources to make advances into New York which seems to be implied here. the only possible way I could see them doing better is a Brit. victory at New Orleans with a better Brit/Can/Indian campaign in the west perhaps in combination with a worse American campaign in Niagara and against Montreal.

Arguably if peace talks occur while Napoleon is exile on Elba or after Waterloo The British bargaining position is strongest and they will not give away anything without getting anything in return. If during the Hundred days then their position is a little more circumscribed though. In addition, the longer the War lasts, the threat of N. Eng. succession become stronger.

In a lengthy war they could most defininitley be forced to disgorge Louisiana back to Spain and be told to seek compensation from the French, who in the Anglo-Spanish opinion did not have the right to sell it to them. Let them get their money back from the French or take the French possessions in the Carribean instead. This is probably a given if New Orleans has fallen to the Brits. during the course of the war. Any British garrison would almost certainly be reinforced by colonial troops from Havana and New Spain to back up the Anglo-Spanish position.
 
This has been discussed before, and one likely result from a major British effort in the second half of the war is Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, due to a sizeable British contingent on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
 
Grimm Reaper said:
This has been discussed before, and one likely result from a major British effort in the second half of the war is Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, due to a sizeable British contingent on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
I'll agree to that.
 
Grimm Reaper said:
This has been discussed before, and one likely result from a major British effort in the second half of the war is Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, due to a sizeable British contingent on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

CAn you please explain to me why?

OTL, there was NOT a sizeable british contingent at waterloo. Most of Wellington's troops were belgian and Dutch. Now if you suppose that Wellington is in North America, then you can get get indeed coalition defeat in detail in 1815...
 
At least 1/3 of Wellington's forces were British, and they were the ones that he relied on most since they were more experienced and he already knew most of their officers (plus the Belgians in particular were thought to be decidedly lukewarm - unlike some other regions of Europe they hadn't done too badly with French occupation). A few regiments could make a big difference - or maybe not.

In OTL the New England movement for secession had limited popular support. That could change if the war went much worse for the US, but then again it might not.

Even with larger numbers of troops deployed in North America, the British might have a hard time making many gains. The US Army was finally getting better organized and getting better commanders in place by 1814, and the threat of more British attacks and permanent loss of large amounts of territory might tend to rally recruitment and support for the war, even in New England.
 
I agree that the timing of the peace is all important.

If the peace talks occur with New Orleans in British hands after a Waterloo similar to OTL, following a series of decisive British victories which shatter the US morale, it probably wouldn't matter if the US army is rapidly getting stronger and the victories were mostly due to British luck in the face of an improving US military in 1814, popular sentiment probably wouldn't be in favour of facing the British without the distraction of a war in Europe.
 
fhaessig said:
CAn you please explain to me why?

OTL, there was NOT a sizeable british contingent at waterloo. Most of Wellington's troops were belgian and Dutch. Now if you suppose that Wellington is in North America, then you can get get indeed coalition defeat in detail in 1815...
Wasn't there an Austrian/Russian heading towards Waterloo anyway? Maybe neither a French nor British victory at Waterloo.
 
Anaxagoras said:
What are the effects of this?
Based on a realistic appraisal of British policy in North America since 1783 i'd say:

1. New Orleans is returned to the US on condition that it is made a freeport and that the US recognise that British subjects have a right to trade and reside in lands acquired under the Louisiana Purchase. In OTL the 1783 and 1794 treaties had given equal access to both nations to lands around the Mississippi basin, however the US reneged on this agreement by claiming that this did not actually include lands acquired under the Louisiana Purchase.

This may have led to greater efforts by the British to develop the St. Lawrence as an major artery carrying goods in and out of the mid-west and an influx of British settlers to the west of the US.
However due to the declining economic importence of the American fur trade and a lack of imperial interest in north America after 1815 it seems more probable that ultimately very little changes from OTL.

2. Britain secures a favourable and firm agreement on the Maine boundary.

3. The US is to assign over a significant portion of the Ohio territory to the Indians. This reservation forms a buffer running to between the US and Canadian boarders. Whilst it remains part of the US it is effectively a demilitarised zone which the US uses to dump indians cleared out of lands further to the south.

4. The US is forced to accept and enforce a reciprocal right of stop and search on the high seas. This actually works to the Americans advantage during the Civil War as the British are forced to accept US blockade of the Confederacy.

5. Both sides are to sign a trade agreement giving each other most favoured nation status and removing tarriffs and restrictions against British goods. The US also has to recognise that as of 1783 it has no legitimate right to trade with British colonies.
 
New Orleans is returned to the US on condition that it is made a freeport and that the US recognise that British subjects have a right to trade and reside in lands acquired under the Louisiana Purchase. In OTL the 1783 and 1794 treaties had given equal access to both nations to lands around the Mississippi basin, however the US reneged on this agreement by claiming that this did not actually include lands acquired under the Louisiana Purchase.
So you think there's no chance the British would simply keep it as the final link in their Caribean possessions, or derecognise the Purchase, particularly if New England has secceded, or looks like it is in process of doing so. Is the latter completely unlikely as well.
 
Alratan said:
So you think there's no chance the British would simply keep it as the final link in their Caribean possessions, or derecognise the Purchase, particularly if New England has secceded, or looks like it is in process of doing so. Is the latter completely unlikely as well.
With regards to New Orleans I find the idea of annexation into the British Empire highly unlikely.

From the point of view of British possessions in the West Indies New Orleans was irrelevant. The British had already occupied the most important European colonies there during the wars with France. If New Orleans had held any strategic or economic significance then it would have been occupied by the British prior to its sale to the US.

New Orleans was only valuable to a power which aimed at controlling or occupying the American interior. Although the British wanted to secure free access to these lands for their fur traders, they had no intentions of opening up the mid-west to Canadian settlement. Occupying New Orleans would be pointless, it would probably slow down American economic development in the Mississippi basin but it would not stop it. At the same time the British would be faced with the huge costs of trying to defend one town against a huge hinterland populated with recalcitrant Americans.

Given the fact that the British had balked at the cost in money and manpower of defending Canada against US attack, I cannot imagine that the Liverpool Government would have seriously considered multiplying these problems by forcing the US to cede further huge tracts of land to the British.

As for New England, given that their complaints mainly revolved around Republican economic policy and the restrictions on trade caused by the war a swifter, or more decisive victory, probably lessens the chances of secession as normal economic relations would resume sooner and the Jeffersonian policy of embargo diplomacy is left utterly discredited.
 
It depends what you mean by disastrous. I was loking at a worst case scenario for the US, in which the war lasts for another 3 or 4 years and despite the Americans rapidly rearming and recruiting a large army they still loose badly due to a mixture of strategic incompetence and tactical bad luck.

If in an ATL war of 1812-1815 the British win big, smashing the American militias and army time and again, forcing New England out of the union, whilst somehow simultaneously defeating Napolean, then British North American policy could well be very different to OTL.
 
Grimm Reaper said:
This has been discussed before, and one likely result from a major British effort in the second half of the war is Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, due to a sizeable British contingent on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
It already was. Very few Peninsular veterans were at the war, they had been sent to North America.
 
Grimm Reaper said:
This has been discussed before, and one likely result from a major British effort in the second half of the war is Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, due to a sizeable British contingent on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
The British don't need to make a major push in addition to what they did in OTL, they just need to have things go better.

Control of the Great Lakes for example(do able with luck, change the outcome of the attack on Sacketts Harbour for example), victory at Plattsburg(again not difficult), the OTL victories in Maine, a lucky strike at a powder magazine at Baltimore(shell landed but didn’t go off) and possibly a victory at New Orleans.

The British troop commitments in North America in OTL being extended a few months won’t change Waterloo (only four regiments which served in North America in 1814 were at waterloo, three of those from the New Orleans debacle and they were in North America as late as February 1815).
 
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