America was so unprepared that the British walked into Washington D.C. virtually unopposed. The result: The British burned all of the city's public buildings, including the White House (above).
America’s first declared war was quickly turning into its worst war.
Its invasion of Canada had collapsed, the northern states were meeting in convention to secede from the Union, the government had exhausted its resources and the enemy had torched the nation’s new capital. Now, Great Britain, having just defeated Napoleon, was preparing to give its former upstart colonies the thrashing they deserved.
It was only 20 years after the United States’ founding, but perhaps never again in the nation’s history would it experience such cowardice, indecisiveness, incompetence and laziness in the army’s senior officer ranks. Battle after battle was lost, untrained troops were sacrificed in fights they could never win, territories won were quickly squandered, and the chain of command was ignored to near-treasonous levels.
The very existence the United States was at stake. If this daring experiment in self-government had failed, the history of the last two centuries would have been forever changed. Not just in America, but throughout the world.
Yet, from this wreckage, America rebounded.
To learn how, read Madness: The War of 1812, a fast-paced and compelling historical novel that introduces its readers to what it was like for ordinary Americans to fight in and recover from America’s worst-fought war. To order at a special low price, go here.
To have a great comeback, you first must be so far behind that just surviving seems nearly impossible. Read here how the War of 1812 devolved into America’s worst war before becoming its biggest rebound
I am Dennis Byrne, and you can contact me at 847-708-1203 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for the Madness Facebook page here. My freelance writer/editor website is email@example.com. My Chicago Tribune op-ed columns are found at chicagotribune.com. You also can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.