There were several ostensible provocations leading to America’s declaration of War on Britain in 1812, but most important, perhaps, was President Madison’s belief that the British, locked in an existential struggle with France, would not be able to defend Canadian possessions. Accordingly, the Great Lakes, forming much of the border between America and Canada were a strategic theatre of the conflict. Britain gained initial advantage, capturing Fort Mackinac and Detroit, while their Indian allies fired Fort Dearborn. The tide turned when General Harrison took over the American North West command. British attacks on Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson were repulsed, and in May 1813, the Americans captured first Fort George, then Fort Erie. Commodore Perry achieved a naval victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813, but, after Napoleon’s exile, the British could send reinforcements and stalemate ensued, followed by a peace settlement at the Treaty of Ghent.
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