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War of 1812

1812 - 1815

    Between the War for Independence and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the armed forces of the United States have participated in twenty-one principal wars and in numerous smaller conflicts and operations. In each of these American men and women have paid a high price for the nation's freedom, selflessly sacrificing life or limb for an honorable cause.

    Principal sources of information for the figures, explanatory text and illustrations appearing below include the National Archives and Records Administration; U.S. Navy Historical Center; Department of Defense; Department of Veterans Affairs; and The Oxford Companion to American Military History, from which all quotations are taken.

    War of 1812 (1812 - 1815)

    The War of 1812 occurred because many Americans "believed that England sought to humiliate the United States, limit its USS Constitution defeats Guerriere, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTERgrowth, and perhaps even impose a quasi-colonial status upon its former colonies." In the years following independence when Britain and Napoleonic France were at war with one another, these nations often violated the maritime rights of the U.S., which attempted to remain neutral throughout this period. After efforts to avoid war by applying economic coercion failed to deter the British from interfering with American neutrality, Congress declared war following eight months of debate. Most of the operations of the war took place along the American-Canadian border between Detroit and Lake Champlain. Britain was best able to carry the war to the Americans at sea, both off the mid-Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Each side recorded significant victories against the other, both on land and at sea, and "efforts to end the war lasted almost as long as the conflict itself." For the most part, the Treaty of Ghent that followed left questions of maritime rights and territorial claims where they had been before the war, although the war left the United States with a heightened sense of national purpose as well as a more securely consolidated military establishment.

    American Casualties, War of 1812

    Branch of ServiceNumber ServingKilled in ActionNon-mortal Wounds
    Army 1,9504,000
    Navy     265    439
    Marines       45      66
    Total    286,7302,2604,505