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When
the news reached Boston of the declaration of war, the shipping hung
their flags at half-mast. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey,
through their Legislatures, protested against it, but, as in the
Revolution, the general enthusiasm swept away all opposition.

An increase of the regular army was ordered to 25,000 men, in addition
to the call for 50,000 volunteers, while the States were asked to summon
100,000 militia, to be used in defense of the coast and harbors. The
government authorized a loan of $11,000,000, and Henry Dearborn, of
Massachusetts, was made the first major-general and commander-in-chief
of the army, while the principal brigadiers were James Wilkinson,
William Hull, Joseph Bloomfield, and Wade Hampton, the last being father
of the general of the same name who became famous as a Confederate
leader in the War for the Union.


A SHAMEFUL SURRENDER.

The opening battle of the war was one of the most shameful affairs that
ever befell the American arms. General William Hull, who had made a
creditable record in the Revolution, was governor of Michigan Territory.
He was ordered to cross the river from Detroit, which was his home, and
invade Canada. He showed great timidity, and learning that a British
force, under General Brock, was advancing against him, he recrossed the
river and returned to Detroit, before which General Brock appeared, on
the 12th of August, at the head of 700 British soldiers and 600 Indians.
In demanding the surrender of the post, he frightened Hull, whose
daughter and her children were with him, by telling him he would be
unable to restrain the ferocity of his Indians, if the Americans made a
defense.

The soldiers were brave and eager to fight, but, to their inexpressible
disgust, the siege had been pressed but a short time when Hull ran up a
white flag and surrendered, August 16th. With the submission of Detroit
went the whole territory northwest of Ohio.

The country was angered and humiliated by the act. Twenty-five men were
given in exchange for Hull, and he was placed on trial, charged with
treason, cowardice, and conduct unbecoming an officer. He was convicted
on the last two charges and sentenced to be shot. In recognition of his
services in the Revolution, however, the President pardoned him, and he
died, without ever having gained the respect of his countrymen, in 1825.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1812.

Before proceeding with the history of the war, a few incidents not
connected with it should be recorded. In the presidential election of
1812, the electoral vote was: for President, James Madison, Republican,
128; De Witt Clinton, of New York, Federalist, 89. For Vice-President,
Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, Republican, 131; Jared Ingersoll, of
Pennsylvania, Federalist, 86. Vacancy, 1. Thus Madison and Gerry were
elected.

Louisiana was admitted as a State in 1812, being a part of the immense
territory of that name purchased from France in 1803. Indiana was
admitted in 1816, and was the second of the five States carved out of
the old Northwest Territory. It will be recalled that the United States
Bank was chartered in 1791 for twenty years. Its charter, therefore,
expired in 1811. In 1816, Congress chartered a new bank, on the same
plan and for the same length of time. The public money was to be
deposited in it or its branches, except when the secretary of the
treasury choose to order its deposit elsewhere.


BATTLE OF QUEENSTOWN HEIGHTS.

Returning to the history of the war, it has to be said that the second
attempt to invade Canada was more disastrous if possible than the first,
and more disgraceful to American arms. The troops on the Niagara
frontier were mainly New York militia, with a few regulars and recruits
from other States, all under the command of Stephen Van Rensselaer.
Resolved to capture the Heights of Queenstown, he sent two columns
across the river on the morning of October 13, 1812. They were led by
Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, cousin of the general and a brave
officer. The engagement was a brisk one, the colonel being wounded early
in the fight, but his troops gallantly charged the Heights and captured
the fortress. General Brock was reinforced and attacked the Americans,
but was repulsed, Brock being killed. The fierceness of the battle is
shown by that fact that the three commanders who succeeded Brock were
either killed or severely wounded.

Under the attack of superior forces, the Americans had managed to hold
their ground and they now began to intrench. Meanwhile, the 1,200 New
York militia on the other side of the river had become frightened by the
sounds of battle, and when called upon to cross refused to do so, on the
cowardly plea that they had enlisted to defend only their State.
Lieutenant-Colonel Winfield Scott had taken command of the brigade and
was engaged in intrenching, when the enemy, again reinforced, drove his
troops, after two attacks, to the river, where they were hemmed in and
compelled to surrender. The American loss in killed and wounded was
fully a thousand. General Van Rensselaer was so disgusted with the
conduct of his militia that he resigned his command, and was succeeded
by General Alexander Smyth, of Virginia, whose conduct led to the
general conviction that he was mentally about as near to being an idiot
as it is possible for a man to be and still retain a little ground for
being thought otherwise.

The first thing General Smyth did was to issue a proclamation of so
bombastic a character that his friends were humiliated. He made several
starts toward Canada, but in each instance recalled his troops, and
acted so inexplicably that the militia were on the point of revolting,
when he was deprived of his command. This closed the military operations
for the year 1812, and the story is enough to crimson the cheek of every
American with shame.


BRILLIANT WORK OF THE AMERICAN NAVY.

On the ocean, however, the record was brilliant and as astonishing to
friends as to enemies. Hardly had the news of the declaration of war
reached New York, when Commodore John Rodgers put to sea in the
_President_, the same vessel that had taught the _Little Belt_ her
severe lesson. Some time later Rodgers sighted the frigate _Belvidera_
and gave chase. He killed a number of the crew, but the vessel managed
to escape. Continuing his cruise, he captured a number of merchantmen
and retook an American prize. The luckiest ship in the American navy was
said to be the _Constitution_, afterward popularly known as "Old
Ironsides." Under command of Captain Isaac Hull, nephew of the disgraced
general of Detroit, she engaged the sloop-of-war _Guerrière_ off the
coast of Massachusetts. The battle was a desperate one, but
extraordinary marksmanship prevailed, and the enemy were compelled to
strike their flag after a loss of 79 killed and wounded, while that of
the Americans was 7 killed and 7 wounded.

The victory caused deep chagrin in England and corresponding rejoicing
in the United States. Congress gave Captain Hull a gold medal and
distributed $50,000 among his crew.

In October, the sloop-of-war _Wasp_, Captain Jacob Jones, met the
British brig _Frolic_ off Cape Hatteras. Since the vessels were of
precisely the same strength, the contest could not have been a more
perfect test of the bravery and efficiency of the ships of England and
our own country. As respects bravery, it was equal, for the men on both
sides fought with a courage that could not have been surpassed. When
the crew of the _Wasp_ boarded the _Frolic_, they found no one on deck
except the man at the wheel and two wounded officers. The vessels were
so damaged that on the same day the British ship _Poicters_ captured
both.

During the same month (October 25th), Commodore Stephen Decatur, in
command of the frigate _United States_, encountered the British frigate
_Macedonian_ off the Island of Madeira, and captured her after a battle
of two hours, in which he lost twelve men, while that of the enemy was
more than a hundred. The _Macedonian_ was so shattered that only with
the greatest difficulty was she brought into New London.

The command of the _Constitution_ was now turned over to Bainbridge, who
sighted the frigate _Java_ off the coast of Brazil, December 29th. In
the terrific battle that followed he lost 34 men, but killed 120 of the
enemy, tore out every mast, and burst her hull with round shot. The
_Java_ was blown up, and the prisoners and wounded were taken to Boston,
where Bainbridge received a right royal welcome.

[Illustration: THE ARTS OF PEACE AND THE ART OF WAR.]

This ends the history of the first half-year of the war of 1812. While
everything went wrong on land, the ocean showed only a succession of
brilliant victories. England, chagrined and humiliated, declared that
her flag had been disgraced "by a piece of striped bunting flying at the
mast-heads of a few fir-built frigates, manned by a handful of outlaws."


REORGANIZATION OF THE ARMY.

Congress took measures for strengthening and reorganizing the army. The
pay and bounty of the soldiers were increased; the President was
empowered to raise twenty additional regiments of infantry, to borrow
money, and to issue treasury notes, and provisions were made for adding
four ships-of-the-line, six frigates, and as many vessels of war on the
Great Lakes as might be needed. The army was organized into three
divisions: the Army of the North, under General Wade Hampton, to act in
the country about Lake Champlain; the Army of the Centre, under the
commander-in-chief, General Henry Dearborn, to act on the Niagara
frontier and Lake Ontario; and the Army of the East, under General
Winchester, who soon after was superseded by General William Henry
Harrison.


IN THE WEST.

The last-named officer did his utmost to drive the British out of
Detroit. His troops were volunteers, brave but undisciplined, and
displayed their most effective work in scattered fighting and against
the Indians; but their success was not decisive. When the swamps and
lakes of the Northwest were sufficiently frozen to bear their weight,
Harrison repeated his attempts to expel the British from Detroit.



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