Cover image for Niagara, 1814 : America invades Canada
Niagara, 1814 : America invades Canada
Barbuto, Richard V.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 410 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E355.6 .B37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E355.6 .B37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Buffalo Collection Non-Circ

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Most books on the War of 1812 focus on the burning of Washington, D.C., the Battles of Baltimore and New Orleans, and the war in the Old Northwest. Scant attention, however, has been paid the Niagara Campaign of 1814-the American army's ambitious but failed attempt to wrest Canada from British control. While a few writers have dealt with aspects of this effort, Richard Barbuto is the first to offer a comprehensive study of the entire campaign.

Barbuto covers every aspect of a campaign that saw the American army come of age, even as its military leaders blundered away potential victory and the acquisition of a coveted expanse of North American territory. Vividly recreating the major battles on the Niagara peninsula--at Chippawa, Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie, and Cook's Mill--Barbuto also clarifies the role of these engagements within the overall framework of American strategy.

Despite early success at Chippawa, four long months of fighting finally ended in something like a draw, with the British still in control of Canada. Barbuto argues convincingly that the American government was never really able to harness, coordinate, and focus its tremendous resources in ways that would have allowed the campaign to succeed. Much of the blame, he shows, can be attributed to the poor leadership and confused strategic thinking of President James Madison and his secretary of war, John Armstrong.

The American effort was further undermined by manpower shortages, a few ineffective field commanders, and the army and navy's inability to coordinate their objectives and operations. Even so, Barbuto contends that the American soldier, led by the likes of Jacob Brown and the legendary Winfield Scott, performed surprisingly well against one of the great armies of the nineteenth century.

Barbuto's analysis, unmarred by national bias, presents a balanced picture of these events from the perspective of all participants--American, British, Canadian, and Native American. He also fills an important gap by providing the first ever capsule histories of all regimental-sized units involved in the campaign. Breathing new life into these events, his far-ranging study should become the definitive work on this long-neglected campaign.

Author Notes

Richard V. Barbuto, research manager for Logicon, Inc. received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Kansas. He served twenty-three years in the army before retiring as a lieutenant colonel

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is an excellent example of an old-fashioned military history of a theater of war. To best appreciate it, the reader should know events of the War of 1812 and military fortifications and techniques. The narrative is sometimes difficult to follow in the first 163 pages, which set up the Niagara campaign of 1814. Once Barbuto focuses on the battles of the crucial year, the narrative slows to a detailed military story that emphasizes traditional regimental histories and analyses of combat. American leaders (such as President Madison and Secretary of War Armstrong) are criticized, as they have been in many other histories. This book offers no significant appreciation of the civilian life that paralleled the battles; missing are significant discussions of women or African Americans. In the early chapters Native Americans are considered separate from the British, Euro-Canadians, and Euro-Americans. However, later they seem to lose their independent status and merge into the traditional roles of subordination. This is an oft-told military-historical chronicle, given a new telling in a solidly researched narrative. It will be best appreciated by readers who have backgrounds in such history and who are devoted to the minutiae of the policies, strategies, and tactics of war. E. R. Fingerhut; emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. xi
1. The Road to Warp. 1
2. The Disappointing Warp. 12
3. The Central Theater of Operationsp. 37
4. Startling Victories, Unexpected Defeatsp. 57
5. Polarizing Attitudes, Stagnating Strategiesp. 93
6. Final Preparationsp. 115
7. The Opening Battlesp. 163
8. Lundy's Lanep. 206
9. The Siege of Fort Eriep. 234
10. The Siege Endsp. 263
11. Izard's Offensivep. 282
12. Conclusionp. 309
Afterwordp. 319
Notesp. 331
Bibliographyp. 375
Indexp. 387