This two-volume work by historian Robert Quimby presents a comprehensive and detailed analysis of military strategy, operations, and management during one of America’s most neglected and least understood military campaigns, the War of 1812. With causes that can be traced to the epic contest against Napoleon in Europe beginning in 1803, the war itself was the first conducted by the young Constitutional government of the United States. Quimby demonstrates that failed American initiatives at the beginning of hostilities shattered the unrealistic optimism of the war’s staunchest advocates; and while initial failures were followed by military success in 1813, whatever advantage might have been gained was soon lost to incompetent leadership. Major exceptions occurred in the Old Northwest, and in what was then the Southwest, where U.S. forces finally broke the strength of the long-successful Indian-British alliance.
In retrospect, what occurred during the War of 1812 demonstrated the necessity for gaining citizen support before committing the nation to armed conflict; it also provided a series of object lessons on how not to conduct a military campaign. Finally Quimby argues that, notwithstanding several victories at war’s end, including the fabled Battle of New Orleans, American perceptions that the United States "won" the war are erroneous; at best the struggle ended in a draw. The United States Army in the War of 1812 is an up-to-date and long overdue reassessment of military actions conducted during a pivotal conflict in American history, one that shaped U.S. military doctrine for a half century.