U.S. Declares War on Canada
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Isaac Brock
U.S. Declares War on Canada
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U.S. Declares War on Canada
U.S. Declares War on Canada
On June 18, 1812, American President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Britain.
American and British officers were having dinner together at Fort George when news of the declaration of war reached them. They completed the meal in peace. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
American and British officers were having dinner together at Fort George when news of the declaration of war reached them. They completed the meal in peace. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Brigadier-General Isaac Brock heard the news while he was dining with American officers at Fort George. They finished the dinner in peace then withdrew to plan mutual destruction.

Thomas Jefferson, the former American president, thought that victory would simply be a formality. "The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching," he felt, "Upon the whole I have known no war entered into under more favourable circumstances."

This was certainly true. Canada had 500,000 people (some of whom had recently been Americans) to America's seven million. Brock had only 1,600 troops to defend a 1,200 mile border. And he had the same worries Guy Carleton had had in 1774: Would the citizens fight the enemy or embrace them?

"My situation is most critical," Brock wrote to the adjutant-general in Montreal, "not from anything the enemy can do but from the disposition of the people – the population, believe me, is essentially bad – a full belief possesses them all that this province must inevitably succumb...
Canada vulnerable
Canada vulnerable
Most of the people have lost all confidence. I, however, speak loud and look big."

It was difficult to look big given the state of affairs. To compound his problems there was rampant desertion in the Canadian militia, many of them going over to the Americans.

Rather than spread his unreliable force in a thin, defensive pattern, Brock chose to assemble them and mount an audacious offensive.
His target was Fort Detroit, defended by 2,000 men and an eight-day march away. It was a risk; in concentrating his army at Detroit, he left the rest of the province vulnerable to attack.

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