Book Review: Union 1812

The War of 1812 is something I’ve obviously studied due to its importance in the life and times of my main man Andrew Jackson, but I know very little about the Northern Front. I understand about what made the war happen and how tensions kept getting higher, but those initial stages and larger decisions made by Secretary of War Monroe still elude me.

The Book

Union 1812 read 2021

Union 1812
Author: A.J. Langguth
Amazon Link

I borrowed the ebook version of this from my library, which meant I had to read this pretty quickly before the library took it away. That’s a misfortune, because I like to take more time with these sorts of books. So here we go – the book that links the end of the Revolution to the Second War of Independence, Union 1812. 

A Spoiler-ific Review Because You Know What Nonsense This War Was

First off: the Southern Theater was well-known to me. I was already very aware of the feud between Jackson and Wilkinson, how Jackson pretty much just made his own army and took matters into his own hands, and how the slaughter was pretty crazy. If you want to read about (white) American successes in the war of 1812, this is the theater you should read about.

And Langguth did a pretty fair job of it. He did describe the slaughter in a negative light, and that’s something I’ve found lacking in other works (Remini *cough*). He showed a clearer connection between Jackson’s raising an army and keeping the army loyal to him moreso than to the cause. He did have a bit of a lax description of New Orleans and the tactical nonsense leading up to it, but I’ll forgive him due to space constraints.

But the Northern Theater?

What a fricking mess.

I hadn’t studied the Northern theater nearly as much, so my knowledge was pretty much limited to “burning of the capitol” and “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”. And Lord Have Mercy (lord have mercy), that’s about all that went well for the Americans. Though the Americans often had larger forces, their forays into Canada were absolute garbage, their tactics horrible nonsense, and their training absolutely negligible. I’m glad I found out how absolutely bad the Northern Theater was, because it makes Jackson’s victory and subsequent fame a lot more sensible.

Also, the real hero of the Northern Theater was probably Dolly Madison. You go, Dolly.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

I read the relatively new biography of George Washington, You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe!

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Union 1812

      • H.R.R. Gorman says:

        It’s one of those weird wars. I think part of why people don’t remember it is that the Treaty of Ghent was written so there was neither gain nor loss for either side (though there’s debate considering the importance of New Orleans and American westward expansion). I bet most people don’t even realize the “Star Spangled Banner” is about the War of 1812.

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake says:

    Do you think this author knows his stuff? I have been meaning to educate myself better on this bit of history and am more interested in the Northern theatre.For me the study of the war of 1812 is a study of waterways, the geography of rivers. I suspect, north and south, this war helped post colonial white America tie up loose ends regarding displacing/erasing Native America and regarding borders and westward expansion.
    Next time you’re up this way I’ll take you into Boston, we’ll tour Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I think Langguth’s work is trustworthy, and I think he conveys the information in a solid manner. Like I said in the review, though, I mostly know about the Southern theater. I can’t tell you for sure that he does well with the north, but I know he does include the naval battles and the importance of the great lakes. He takes a somewhat political bent, which I like.

      If I were to say what I think is most lacking, it’d be a greater focus on Tecumseh. That’s just me, though, and probably just something I’m interested in.

      I think you’re right about the colonists displacing indigenous peoples using the war as an excuse, but I also think the white Americans of the time didn’t see it that way. I think they saw it as an issue of “national security”, which is intriguing to me.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake says:

        As I brush up on Tecumseh (thank you Wikipedia) I see why it was framed as “national security”. Dang indigenous people wanted to keep their lands and culture! A real threat. Especially if Tecumseh was organizing tribes into a confederation.
        I just might start with this book when I finally brush up on the War of 1812, but it is too bad if it lacks a full accounting of Indigenous Peoples’ roles. (or maybe you just wanted more of Tecumseh; maybe you will write that book) I suspect that this Euro-American war was a watershed event as far as this country’s dealings with native Americans.
        Thank you.

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