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The War of 1812 and the civilian rifleman?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by SodaPop, Jun 5, 2003.

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  1. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    I've recently been looking up the history of the War of 1812. For some reason I don't remember much about the History of this war. By the time 1812 rolled around our standing Army must have been more sophisticated than in the Revolutionary War, right?

    The British invaded the United States and tried to take it back.

    Did our 2nd Ammendment pay off by now?

    How much of an impact did the armed civilian population play?
     
  2. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad member

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    Actually, in the beginning of the War of 1812, the militia was not much help at all. They didn't think they had to serve outside of their home states, for one thing. Or even their home counties, for some of them. Militias are great as irregulars and guerillas, but as an army, they stink. They have little in the way of discipline or professionalism. (Sorry, anarcho-capitalists, your idea of a civilian militia saving our bacon against a seasoned, professional army just doesn't hold water.) Now, if our civilian militia was along the lines of Israel where just about everyone serves, that is one thing. (Of course, there goes the rugged individualism of the anarchos when they have to show up for training and follow orders, including, perhaps later, orders to take that machine gun nest even if it means their death.) But the average civilian with no military experience is going to turn to liquid excrement the first artllery barrage or napalm run. This was the lesson learned in the War of 1812 and what led to a progressively larger standing army. No one just decided to have a standing army. The professional British Army showed it was a necessity if one was to hold the country just created. I assume everyone saw how well the Iraqi fedayeen kept the U.S. Army at bay, hmmm?

    (Tidbit: The National Anthem was written during the War of 1812.)
     
  3. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Well, the militia actually acquitted themselves fairly well against battle-hardened British regulars during the War of 1812, at least in the lower part of the United States. American operations against Canada, for both the militia and the regular Army, were much more hazy.

    The war was, by and large, rather unpopular, especially in New England, whose seaborn trade was badly hurt by the war.

    The Battle of Bladensburg is one instance in which the militia, in combination with some regular Navy forces, acquitted themselves fairly well against the British even though the ultimate results were a failure.

    The American militia troops, including naval militia that had earlier harassed the British fleet in the Cheasapeake and in the rivers leading to the Chesapeake, held their own against assaults by several thousand British troops, but when they tried to take the initiatitive and drive the British back, the attack faltered through poor coordination and was broken, leaving the road to Washington open to the British.

    American militia troops also helped blunt the British attempts to take Fort McHenry. The Battle of North Point saw the Maryland militia blunt the British land attempt to take Baltimore. The action also saw the death of British General Ross.

    The true shining example of the American citizen's militia in the War of 1812 was at the Battle of New Orleans.

    The battle included a small force of American regular army and about 2,000 to 3,000 local militia. Everyone who's heard Johnny Horton's song "The Battle of New Orleans" knows how it turned out -- fewer than 100 American casualties, nearly 1,500 British casualties, including the commanding general.
     
  4. telewinz

    telewinz Member

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    IIRC at the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost and had so many losses due to the fact that the Americans were well prepared and entrenched and the British conducted a frontal assualt "in parade formation". What was the outcome whenever a militia force tried to stand toe to toe with the British on equal footing? The burning of the White House is one result. A militia has always been a "poor man's army" and their performance in history has pretty much been laughed at by the professionals. The Viet Cong are one of he few examples to the contrary.

    BTW The War of 1812 was already over by the time the Battle of New Orleans was fought, a peace treaty had been signed but word had not reached the commanders yet.
     
  5. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    telewinz,

    Makes the redcoats sound a whole lot less professional than their amateur opponents, dontcha think? ;)
     
  6. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Sir Galahad,

    Boy, you really have a bee under your bonnet about this, don't you? :scrutiny:

    (PS: "Private" and "rag-tag" do not necessarily equate with each other. This is happening already, BTW; research DynCorp, a subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation. ;) )
     
  7. ACP230

    ACP230 Member

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    Many "Letters Of Marque and Reprisal" were issued in the War Of 1812.
    Private ship owners used them to go after British shipping in the Carribean. and other oceans, and the English Channel! While not a "militia" in the sense mentioned in the post above, these were individual captains fighting well-armed ships. They had a pretty good record overall.

    Capt. Boyle from Baltimore, captain of the Chasseur issued a proclamation in which he, and other American privateers, declared England to be blockaded. He claimed he had as much ability to blockade England as the Brit fleet in America had to blockade all the creeks, estuaries and flowages in America.

    If Congress had the guts it could issue Letters Of Marque and Reprisal against the terrorists today.
     
  8. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, now, telewinz, I don't know that the Viet Cong were that good, as an example. They were effective as troublemakers as long as they stayed in the first levels of Mao's doctrine of guerilla warfare. They tried to move up to the Third Level in the 1968 Tet offensive and were tumbled all the way back down to the basic level of insurrection. Their quality, their "victory" was solely in the minds (?) of the mediahcrity folks.

    Art
     
  9. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    An American standing army? Perish the thought.

    The militias worked as intended with mixed results. The year before the War of 1812 the Indiana Militia kicked the snot out of the Mongolian-Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Soda, I think there is still a "webbook" by Reed Beard published early last century about the battle and the militia's involvement if you are interested.

    During the War of 1812, some fought like tigers, others broke and ran. The problem is that militia are defensive in nature. When the US wanted to invade Canada, several militias staged a sit down strike and demanded "triple pay, and double rations" and went through the motions in operations.

    In Congress, many were hesitant to endorse an invasion of Canada as "every cabin a fortress and every tree a rifle." However, that is the reason for a militia, defense, exactly as the Framers intended.
     
  10. Jon Coppenbarger

    Jon Coppenbarger Member

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    lets see civilian rifleman?

    man thats a tough one.
    rifleman verse's tank, bradly, f15 or what ever is going to be a big time loser.
    you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out! WOW!!!
    now back in 1812 when both sides including the british infrantryman had pretty much the same weapon and I would give a slight edge to the militia in accrucy of rifles back then.

    it only takes a fanatic like those fedayne if that s how you spell it to see what a Idiot should never do against troops that are alot better armed that you are.

    army's at least the smart one's pretty much learn from the previous conflicts what you should do and not do (at least the one's that plan on sticking around)

    most every country has and will if they have the ways and means to make the invaders pay big time.
    but only I believe if you have the majority of the people behind your effert.

    the militia backed by its people can make you wish you never ever heard of the country you just invaded.
    you will not ever want to leave the armed camp or fort with out alot of you being armed.
    go to the movies, market, garage sale, graveyard or what ever because theirs a very good chance if you go with out your tank you will not get back alive.

    lets see iraqi irregulars, taliban, russians, isralies, germans, british, greeks, romans you name it will lose in the long run.
    oh how about solmalia we got out of their fast enough kinda like lebenon also. theirs two shinning late example's of when the people turn against you we got the heck out of their fast.
    Its alot easier to invade a country that kinda wants you there to overthrow the leaders and displace the standing army.
    come on now how long do you think we would stay in iraq when almost every citizen of that country would be out to kill us. not long.
    you take the average american soldier right now he can hardly pass a marksmanship course in the real world but he is still alot better than most everyone else.
    and yeah the army and other branches has units like the amu and the such but thats not alot of folks to go around in a country the size of the us.
    the mititia's in the us are not really as far as I see much better than the local troopies of the armed forces if at all.
    now if say the chinese invaded the us do you really think they would want to stay long after the people started their militia up and started to kill those commie b@#$#'s by the score. I think not.
    but if you disarm the polulace you will have a better chance of attaining that goal. makes me wonder how american the democrats ar or are they really commies trying to disarm us to let eithe rthemselfs or another country walk in and take over someday. ummmm!
     
  11. seeker_two

    seeker_two Member

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    Vietnam c. 1950'-70's...
    The Phillipines c. 1900-1915...
    Afghanistan c. 1980's...
    French-Indian War c. 1740-50's...

    Just a few "waterlogged" examples...:D
     
  12. scotjute

    scotjute Member

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    Just a thought on the militia in todays battlefield. If this country were invaded as an example, it would of course be foolish to attack tanks directly with rifles. Note however that every strength has a weakness and tanks have several :
    As an example the men inside will presumably come out at night to eat and sleep - give ground and wait til nite and attack them while they're resting/eating, etc.
    A tank has to refuel. The tanker trucks are susceptible to rifle fire.
    Ammo/food resupply trucks and drivers would be susceptible to rifle fire.
    We're seeing some of this today in Iraq.

    In the game of chess, the queen and the rooks are powerful pieces, but the knight is not without its advantages. It would be foolish to use the knight as a queen. It wouldn't last long. Yet when used correctly, the knight can be an invaluable piece.
    The same could be said of the rifleman.
     
  13. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    Wasn't the war of 1812 a financial war? They wanted control of the banks or wanted us to use their money or something like that? Pardon my ignorance.:D
     
  14. ShaiVong

    ShaiVong Member

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    Boer war, anyone?
     
  15. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    "IIRC at the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost and had so many losses due to the fact that the Americans were well prepared and entrenched and the British conducted a frontal assualt "in parade formation". What was the outcome whenever a militia force tried to stand toe to toe with the British on equal footing? The burning of the White House is one result. A militia has always been a "poor man's army" and their performance in history has pretty much been laughed at by the professionals."

    How the militia is used, as opposed to their ultimate performance, is rather immaterial, actually.

    By its very nature the militia is a defensive, not offensive, organization. As such, it's expected that it would take up defensive positions if time and circumstance allowed.

    The height of stupidity is to attempt to meet your enemy on his terms. Ideally, you want to dictate the terms of engagement to him.

    At Bladensburg, when the American militia attempted to shift from a defensive to an offensive posture its ability to protect Washington was broken.

    At New Orleans, the militia and regular army dictated the terms of the battle by preparing fortified positions and remaining in them.

    The British obviously thought that the American units weren't going to be much trouble, or else they wouldn't have attempted a long formation march up to the American lines in broad daylight.

    Guess the professional British soldiers, given the numbers I quoted in my first message, were laughing pretty hard at the abilities of the militia the next morning.
     
  16. Z_Infidel

    Z_Infidel Member

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    I don't believe the reason we left Somalia was because our military wasn't up to the task of handling the local militia. It was more likely because the CIC did not want to risk public opinion turning against him due to news of more American soldiers being killed. Once again, it was politics -- not military failure -- that led to withdrawal without accomplishing the ultimate objective.

    Keep in mind, TFR succeeded in its mission in Mogadishu. The American warriors performed admirably and the Somali militia suffered horrendous losses. But because of Clinton's actions afterward, the American lives lost ended up being for nothing. That is the tragedy.
     
  17. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    Pass the info!?



    Also....... Can someone tell me what year the War of 1812 took place?;)

    That questions stumps a great many people these days.:D
     
  18. telewinz

    telewinz Member

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    Art....

    I didn't mean to imply that the Viet Cong were as effective as a regular army unit but they came close and went the distance. 1968 (Tet) caused a change to their command structure and almost wiped them out but but they went the distance as a fairly reliable, (well regulated) effective fighting force. They were my enemy but they could still be held up as a role model for a militia.

    Mike...

    OK, how many battles did militia win offensive or defensive? If militia is defensive by nature, then I presume their is a record of militia winning at least 51% of the defensive battles they were committed to. One of the the most successful engagements the militia was ever engaged in AND played an important role (their are very few) was the battle of the Cowpens. Their success was based on demanding the militia fire only 2 shots before they retreated and went home regardless of the situation on the battlefield. Little was expected of them and the militia met those expectations, hardly the stuff legends or heroes are made of. Sorry, the American militia earned the reputation the regulars gave it, performance matters, not PR and excuses. Now against the primitive American Indians they did much better in OFFENSIVE actions, but what western culture didn't?
     
  19. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    Seems to me that the key point of a militia is that it's a pool of men who already know how to use a rifle and have a certain amount of "in the boonies" knowledge. They are readily trained into at least small-unit tactics at the platoon or company level. They can easily be integrated into a more formal organization.

    The effectiveness, then, is a function of the competency of the leadership. ("Gee, Art, how'd you figure that out?") I guess that from the Second Amendment standpoint of "well regulated", the leadership makes the difference between a true militia and an armed mob...

    Art
     
  20. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    So whats a modern Militia to do?:D If Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson were alive today, they'd get locked up or taken out quick. Prolly charged with terrorism if they lived.:cuss: :D
     
  21. telewinz

    telewinz Member

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    What does the modern militia do in this country...

    I far as I can tell their is no "modern militia" in the United States and their probably hasn't been an effective militia for decades. Their are many para-military organizations that claim the mantle of militia but are they recognized as being a valid militia at ANY level of government? The few so called militia units that have had any measure of effectiveness are closely watched and are viewed as a threat. Considering some of the deeds that have been committed by these "bandits" in the name of self-serving patriotism, I support my government's wisdom in keeping tabs on them.

    IMHO the militia evolved into the reserves and national guard for no better reason than that we can afford them and we need/demand a "regular and well maintained" force of true citizen soldiers. Just because we furnish them training, uniforms, payment and weapons doesn't mean they aren't qualified to be our modern day militia.

    The militia most people envision still lives on in the World, mainly in poor third world countries (as we once were) who can't afford the high quality militia we here in America enjoy. The quality of our American militia is so high that most people don't recognize the direct linage that goes back several hundred years.
     
  22. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    The luck of geography gave us breathing room and recovery time after Pearl Harbor. By 1945, however, we still hadn't learned that the days of no standing army just couldn't work any longer. The Cold War and Korea, along with technological advances, brought us to our large military structure of today. (A bit smaller in numbers of personnel than in recent decades, but far larger in firepower.)

    The big problem from the standpoint of rights and militias and such is that our fundamental documents consider a population which is mostly comprised of mature, rational and responsible citizens. It was assumed that this population would forever live in a large world full of faraway places of little importance to our way of life.

    I sometimes think we're in really deed doodoo.

    Art
     
  23. goon

    goon Member

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    Ain't there supposed to be an organized militia and an unorganized militia?
    If the US was invaded by Canada tomorrow, who here would show up with their '06 to show them they had had a brainfart?
    If you raised your hand, you are most likely part of the unorganized militia.
    The National Guard and the Reserves are good, and I appreciate their service, but I would still have a personal responsibility to resist if the day ever came.
     
  24. Nando Aqui

    Nando Aqui Member

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    Another Fine Book

    Bought another book at Sam's Club last week; under $10:

    "History of the US Army", by James M. Morris

    Copyright 1984 - 2002. Hardbound, over 250 (numbered) 9" x 12" pages, glossy, most with color or black & white pictures.

    It's more than just the history of the US Army; it is an excellent overall history of the United States from political and military points of view. Written with enough details to keep your interest, but not too many as to be boring.

    Eight pages cover the War of 1812 rather well.

    Alex
     
  25. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    Isn't there something that goes along with that about how most of the soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor were from upstate New York?

    Rednecks tend to fit into a rifle company real nice.:D
     
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