How Much Do You Know About the War of 1812?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wikipedia

About This Quiz

The American Revolution was not the end of armed conflict between the former colonies and the Motherland. Battle raged again in the new century -- how much do you know about the War of 1812?

What year did the War of 1812 begin?

We're going to assume you got this one correct. The War of 1812 did, as its name implies, kick off in 1812. It was the beginning of a fraught period in New World history.


The War of 1812 pitted the United States against which country?

Just a couple of decades following the American Revolution, the British and Americans were at it again. As the bombs began bursting, America's sovereignty was anything but guaranteed.


As hostilities commenced with the U.S., many of Britain's forces were already busy fighting the ______.

The Napoleonic Wars were in full swing and Britain was very much occupied fighting France. Renewed hostilities with American meant that Britain's forces would become even more strained.


At the time of the war, what aspect of Britain's military was extraordinarily strong?

During the war, Britain still boasted the world's most powerful navy. Even with its sailors strewn about the globe, America had a steep challenge in facing off with Britain and its allies.


What was NOT really a cause of the War of 1812?

America taunted the king a lot during the Revolution, but that wasn’t a cause of the War of 1812. The reasons for the conflict ranged from Britain's trade blockade to America's desire for territorial expansion in North America.


Who was president during the War of 1812?

James Madison was the fourth president of the United States, and he was in office during the conflict. His choices helped lead America into a deadly war.


The British angered America with "impressment," which is what?

Before the war, the British routinely captured American merchant sailors and "impressed" them into service on British ships. Americans were outraged by the unjust audacity of the British.


How did Congress respond to Madison's request for a declaration of war?

Congress was very divided on Madison's ideas for war. It ultimately issued the declaration … but it did so with a lot of reluctance.


President Madison, angry at British intrusions on American interests, decided to capture which British-controlled country?

Madison estimated that with Britain distracted by the French in Europe, it would be easy for America to drive the British out of Canada, capture the country and expand U.S. territory. Turns out, he was wrong.


How did Canadians respond to American incursions on Canadian soil?

Canadians were strongly allied with the British and none too happy about American aggression. They dropped their ice-fishing poles and banded together to fight the invaders.


How did the first American attacks on Canada fare?

America's troops were woefully underprepared for an offensive. Local forces led by savvy British officers immediately repelled the attacks.


British forces chased retreating American forces back across the border. Then what did the British do?

Following the short-lived American incursion, the British chased the enemy back into the United States … and then captured Detroit. Madison's war was not going quite the way he'd expected.


True or false: Was the battle for Detroit a deadly bloodbath?

American leader William Hull was so spooked by his brief experiences in combat that he was anxious about facing off with the British again. He opted to surrender Detroit without so much as a single shot fired.


How did the American public feel about the war?

The American public wasn't enthusiastic about the war, and men didn't want to serve in the undermanned and unprepared army. There also weren't enough officers to properly coordinate the existing forces.


Which famous American song emerged from the War of 1812?

During the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, an American lawyer named Francis Scott Key witnessed American bravery in action. He then wrote a poem that eventually became "The Star-Spangled Banner," and was ultimately adopted as the national anthem.


At the beginning of the war, British troops stationed in Canada were short on supplies. How did they stock up?

British troops near the American-Canadian border actually got their supplies from American sources. In effect, American goods were fueling the fight against the United States.


American officials initially expected Canadian civilians to see U.S. troops as _____.

American government officials figured that Canadians would view U.S. troops as liberators. Instead, the Canadians took up arms, in part because the U.S. had strong anti-Catholic leanings, a fact that didn't sit well with devout Catholic population north of the border.


What did New England states consider doing during the war?

New England states were adamantly opposed to the war. They seriously considered seceding from the country to form their own entity.


What were American "privateers"?

During the war, American merchant vessels were authorized to attack British ships … and they did, in great numbers. These "privateers" caused the British Navy more trouble than U.S. Navy ships.


How many British ships did American privateers seize during the war?

American privateers were an enterprising bunch, capturing British vessels by the hundreds. The British may have lost around 1,000 ships to the privateers during the war.


True or false: Did the British capture Washington, D.C., during the war?

In a testament to the seriousness of the conflict, Britain did indeed capture and occupy America's capital during the war. It's the only time in U.S. history that an enemy force has occupied Washington.


Before the British withdrew from Washington, D.C., what did they do?

The British had no intention of going peacefully. They set fire to many public buildings in the city … and even burned what is now known as the White House.


As fires raged through Washington, what strange event unfolded?

As fires scorched the capital, a powerful thunderstorm (perhaps fueled by a hurricane) extinguished many fires. A tornado also ripped through the middle of the city, killing British and Americans alike.


How long did the British occupy Washington?

Following the epic storm, the British fled to their ships, many of which were severely damaged in the storm. The city was only occupied for about a day.


True or false: Was the large storm responsible for driving the British out of Washington?

This one is likely false. The British wanted to raze Washington as retribution for American actions in other areas of the war. They weren't authorized to hold and occupy enemy territory.


As the war dragged on, the British decided to try and capture which important American city?

The British decided to capture the important port city of New Orleans. Doing so would give them vital control over much of the South.


In 1814, what action did Britain take against the United States?

By 1814, the British had had enough. They implemented a major naval blockade, grinding the American economy to a halt and forcing the country to survive on huge loans from other nations.


At the Battle of New Orleans, roughly 15,000 troops tried to invade the city. How many American defenders were present?

General Andrew Jackson's men numbered only around 5,000 but they defended New Orleans with ferocity, driving off the larger British force. It became known as the most amazing American victory of the war.


When was a peace treaty signed between America and Britain?

Unbeknownst to the combatants at New Orleans, American and British politicians had already signed a peace treaty in Europe … so when the Battle of New Orleans raged, the war was essentially already over.


Who won the War of 1812?

In the end, both sides were worn down by the expensive fighting. Many historians essentially view the outcome as a draw.


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