Tennesseans at War, 1812–1815 by Tom Kanon tells the often forgotten story of the central role citizens and soldiers from Tennessee played in the Creek War in Alabama and War of 1812.
Although frequently discussed as separate military conflicts, the War of 1812 against Great Britain and the Creek War against Native Americans in the territory that would become Alabama were part of the same forceful projection of growing American power. Success in both wars won for America security against attack from abroad and vast tracks of new land in “the Old Southwest.” In Tennesseans at War, 1812–1815, Tom Kanon explains the role Tennesseans played in these changes and how they remade the south.
Because it was a landlocked frontier state, Tennessee’s economy and security depended heavily upon the river systems that traversed the region; some, like the Tennessee River, flowed south out of the state and into Native American lands. Tennesseans of the period perceived that gaining mastery of these waterways formed an urgent part of their economic survival and stability.
The culmination of fifteen years’ research, Kanon’s work draws on state archives, primary sources, and eyewitness accounts, bringing the information in these materials together for first time. Not only does he narrate the military campaigns at the heart of the young nation’s expansion, but he also deftly recalls the economic and social pressures and opportunities that encouraged large numbers of Tennesseans to leave home and fight. He expertly weaves these themes into a cohesive narrative that culminates in the vivid military victories of the War of 1812, the Creek War, and the legendary Battle of New Orleans—the victory that catapulted Tennessee’s citizen-soldier Andrew Jackson to the presidency.
Expounding on the social roles and conditions of women, slaves, minorities, and Native Americans in Tennessee, Kanon also brings into focus the key idea of the “home front” in the minds of Tennesseans doing battle in Alabama and beyond. Kanon shows how the goal of creating, strengthening, and maintaining an ordered society permeated the choices and actions of the American elites on the frontiers of the young nation.
Much more than a history of Tennesseans or the battles they fought in Alabama, Tennesseans at War, 1812–1815, is the gripping story of a pivotal turning point in the history of the young American republic.