War of 1812 (1999) is a four-part documentary series that brings to life an extraordinary, but not well understood, conflict that decided the fate of North America, confirmed the creation of Canada, and annihilated for all time the dream of an independent Native nation.
The War of 1812 was the war that sealed the destiny of North America. A war unlike any other, it was fought with tomahawks and bayonets amid swarms of black flies in forest clearings and mosquito-infested swamps. Armies lined up 60 feet apart on grassy fields and fired deadly point blank volleys at each other. War canoes travelled 1000 miles in ten days along endless waterways. Enormous frigate ships hurled canonballs at one another on the Great Lakes. This four-part series brings the War of 1812 to life with actors speaking the participants own words from journals, letters and diary excerpts. Spectacular re-enactment of major land and naval battles, and the use of compelling war-time art provide the extra touch of visual accuracy.
Tension mounts between the United States and Great Britain. War is inevitable. The British general Isaac Brock is determined to put up a good fight against the Americans. He sends 600 Ojibwa, 180 French-Canadian voyageurs and 60 redcoats to take Fort Mackinac, leading to the first victory of the war. Brock signs an agreement with Tecumseh, forging an alliance between British troops and Canada's First Nations. This episode also covers the taking of Detroit, the surrender of Governor Hull, the Battle of Queenston Heights and the death of General Brock.
After the death of Brock, Chief Tecumseh--whom Harrison is determined to vanquish--plays an increasingly important role. Sir George Prevost takes command and Procter weakens. With the destruction of Prophetstown, the despair of the Natives increases. There are massacres at Fort Dearborn, at Frenchtown and on the Raison River. Then the attack on Fort Meigs fails. Tecumseh's reputation grows when he saves the lives of prisoners. Procter's retreat enrages Tecumseh. After their defeat at the Battle of Moraviantown and the Battle of Lake Erie, the British and their allies withdraw to Canada; Tecumseh is killed by the pursuing Americans.
The Niagara frontier and the St. Lawrence Valley are protected. French-Canadian troops, including a detachment of Voltigeurs under De Salaberry, repel an American attack at Lacolle. British and American ships are locked in a stalemate on Lake Ontario. Wilkinson descends the St. Lawrence River. Hampton moves his troops north from Plattsburg. The American advance is repulsed at the Battles of Châteauguay and Crysler's Farm. The 104th regiment marches from Fredericton to Kingston. By the end of 1813, much of Canada has been laid waste by war but continues to resist the invaders. New England discusses secession. The year 1814 is marked by tragic and bloody clashes.
It is a critical point in the war. The American army rebuilds as the end of the Napoleonic Wars frees up troops in Europe. Prevost remains cautious. Britain sends battle-seasoned reinforcements to the North American front, at Quebec. Bloody battles on the Niagara frontier end in stalemate. The British sail up Chesapeake Bay and burn public buildings in Washington. Fort McHenry is bombarded. Prevost marches his forces south and halts at Plattsburg. The British squadron on Lake Champlain is defeated and Prevost withdraws. Peace negotiations result in the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. The British are mown down at New Orleans. Prevost is recalled and court-martialled.