War in the Chesapeake

The British Campaigns to Control the Bay, 1813-1814
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Binding:Hardback
Published:June 15, 2015
By Charles Neimeyer (Author)

Dr. Charlie Neimeyer is the Marine Corps Historical Foundation's 2017 recipient of "The Brigadier General Edwin Simmons-Henry I. Shaw Award for Superior Historical Scholarship by a Public Historian for War in the Chesapeake."

In the early nineteenth century, the United States of America was far from united. The United States faced internal strife over the extent of governance and the rights of individual states. The United States’ relationship with their former colonial power was also uncertain. Britain impressed American sailors and supported Native Americans’ actions in the northwest and on the Canadian border. In the summer of 1812, President James Madison chose to go to war against Britain. In the early nineteenth century, the United States of America was far from united. The United States faced internal strife over the extent of governance and the rights of individual states. The United States’ relationship with their former colonial power was also uncertain. Britain impressed American sailors and supported Native Americans’ actions in the northwest and on the Canadian border. In the summer of 1812, President James Madison chose to go to war against Britain. War in the Chesapeake illustrates the causes for the War of 1812, the political impacts of the war on America, and the war effort in the Chesapeake Bay.

The book examines the early war efforts, when both countries focused efforts on Canada and the Northwest front. Some historians claim Madison chose to go to war in an attempt to annex the neighboring British territories. The book goes on to discuss the war in the Chesapeake Bay. The British began their Chesapeake campaign in an effort to relieve pressure on their defenses in Canada. Rear Admiral George Cockburn led the resulting efforts, and began to terrorize the towns of the Chesapeake. From Norfolk to Annapolis, the British forces raided coastal towns, plundering villages for supplies and encouraging slaves to join the British forces. The British also actively campaigned against the large American frigates- seeing them as the only threat to their own naval superiority.

War in the Chesapeake traces these British efforts on land and sea. It also traces the Americans’ attempts to arm and protect the region while the majority of the American regular forces fought on the Northwest front. In the summer campaign of 1814, the British trounced the Americans at Bladensburg, and burned Washington, D.C. Afterwards, the Baltimoreans shocked the British with a stalwart defense at Fort McHenry. The British leaders, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane and Major General Robert Ross, did not expect strong resistance after their quick victories at Bladensburg.

War in the Chesapeake tells the story of some of the earliest national heroes, including the defenders of Baltimore and naval leaders like John Rodgers and Stephen Decatur. The following December 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, ending hostilities and returning North America to a peaceful status quo. The United States and neighboring Canada would not go to war on opposing sides again. The United States left the war slightly more unified and independent of the British.

 

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Product Details
  • Subject: War of 1812
  • Hardback : 256 pages
  • Illustrations: 27 b/w photos, 4 maps
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (June 15, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1612518656
  • ISBN-13: 9781612518657
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 18.14 oz
Praise
  • “…Neimeyer writes with authority, providing much absorbing detail on American dispositions for the defence of Baltimore – as one would expect from his US Marine Corps and academic background. This section alone might well recommend the book to the maritime history reading community on both sides of the Atlantic, at a price most could afford.”—International Journal of Maritime History
  • “The director of Marine Corps history and retired lieutenant colonel with a Ph.D. brings his academic and military insights to battles.”—Military Times
  • “Neimeyer provides a fresh look fortified with penetrating analysis. This work is well-balanced, speaking perceptively to national policy, strategy, diplomacy, and joint operations from both sides. This is a scholarly work written for a popular readership and is at the top of the genre.”—Naval War College Review
  • “Neimeyer has made a solid contribution to the military literature of the War of 1812 with War in the Chesapeake. His analysis is based mainly on published primary sources, including period newspapers, but he also drew on several archival collections, such as the James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress, the holdings of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Archives of the United Kingdom. He also furnished a richer context for his story by drawing on drawing on nonmilitary sources to describe its geographic, economic, political, and cultural environment. The Chesapeake campaigns drove home the additional danger a slave-holding society faced whenever it fought a power willing to exploit those it held in bondage—something white Americans had experienced during their original revolt against British rule and something their Southern descendants would face again after the United States became convulsed by civil war.”—Army History
  • "The quality of Charles Neimeyer’s work is not just in its ability to lucidly convey the course of an undeservedly forgotten war but also the lessons it impressively demonstrates. The author’s determination to incorporate of the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians while also highlighting the tactical and strategic lessons learned by the US Navy – and his convincing assertion of the incisive impact amphibious capable forces can have in conflicts (as demonstrated by the Chesapeake campaigns)—are ones which exemplify why the War of 1812 should be anything but a ‘forgotten war.’”—The Mariner’s Mirror
  • "Presents an interesting and informative history of a key campaign of the War of 1812..."—Virginian-Pilot
  • “Charles Neimeyer’s work is a major contribution to the literature on the War of 1812. In splendid prose, he sheds new light on British operations in Chesapeake Bay during the crucial years, 1813 and 1814. Filled with compelling detail, the book illuminates an area critical to understanding an under-appreciated war that was, in fact, of great importance in our nation’s history. Bravo!”—Dr. George C. Daughan, author of 1812: The Navy’s War

  • “The quality of Charles Neimeyer’s insights into the British campaigns to terrorize the coastline and control the Chesapeake Bay are perfectly captured, comprehensively researched, and masterfully written. War in the Chesapeake: The British Campaigns to Control the Bay, 1813–14 is indispensable in understanding the capture of Norfolk, Battle of Bladensburg, burning of the City of Washington, and the successful defense of Baltimore. By war’s end the British presence in the Bay had been removed, the U.S. Navy had gained a new respect and important lessons were learned for a nation at war. Neimeyer has made a significant new contribution to our naval and maritime literature.”— Major Gen. Donald R. Gardner, USMC (Ret.), president emeritus, Marine Corps University

  • “War in the Chesapeake is a welcome addition to the plethora of historical narratives regarding America’s first forgotten war. Much gratitude is due to this Marine Corps historian who seeks to ignite the same esprit de corps that has produced this signatory work.”—The Daybook, Hampton Roads Naval Museum
  • “Historian Charles Neimeyer knows how to tell a riveting story. He has done so once again in this fascinating new volume about the War of 1812 with a focus on British campaigning in the Chesapeake Bay region. Particularly noteworthy is Neimeyer’s presentation of the destructive British raid on Washington, D. C., followed up by a foiled attempt to destroy Baltimore. A marvelous book . . . Highly recommended for anyone interested in the War of 1812 and America’s military history.”—James Kirby Martin, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor of History, University of Houston
  • “This is a fascinating book for any historian, and a treasure trove for any reader, like this reviewer, who lives on or near the Bay. The book is a great read and a real boon to anyone who wants to do further study on this largely forgotten piece of American history. The author, who acknowledges he had a ‘tremendous lot of fun’ writing this book, has produced a valuable addition to anyone’s library of military history.”—Foreign Policy.com’s “The Best Defense”

  • “War in the Chesapeake is an excellent work of history, told in a clear and compelling manner. It illuminates an aspect of the War of 1812 that is often neglected or at least, with the exception of the burning of Washington and the assault on Fort McHenry, not given its proper due. Of particular and lasting importance is the case the book makes for the role of amphibious capable forces that can operate against a foreign shore with near impunity and the impact such forces must have on the defensers that would try to defeat them. Neimeyer has a deft hand when it comes to describing personalities and his refusal to ignore the experiences of the army's rank and file and ordinary civilians is highly commendable and effective. Of note is his discussion of the success the British had in enlisting former colonial slaves once they had been liberated from bondage. The book's explanations of the various battles and skirmishes are both informative and exciting.”—RICHARD J. NORTON, PHD, Professor of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College

  • “The quality of Charles Neimeyer’s insights into the British campaigns to terrorize the coastline and control the Chesapeake Bay are perfectly captured, comprehensively researched, and masterfully written. War in the Chesapeake: The British Campaigns to Control the Bay, 1813–14 is indispensable in understanding the capture of Norfolk, Battle of Bladensburg, burning of the City of Washington, and the successful defense of Baltimore. By war’s end the British presence in the Bay had been removed, the U.S. Navy had gained a new respect and important lessons were learned for a nation at war. Neimeyer has made a significant new contribution to our naval and maritime literature.”—MAJOR GEN. DONALD R. GARDNER, USMC (RET.), president emeritus, Marine Corps University

  • "The author presents not just a narrative but a rich background and context of the impact of personalities and circumstances on the decisions that tacked the course of the campaign.” – Seapower
  • “There are so many facets to the War of 1812 on Chesapeake Bay that describing them is more akin to detailing all the crannies of an oyster shell than the smooth surface of the pearl inside. And yet, author Charles Patrick Neimeyer has managed to do just that in this gem of an 1812 book.” – The Historian

Dr. Charles P. Neimeyer is currently the Director of Marine Corps History and the Gray Research Center at Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia. Prior to coming to Quantico, Dr. Neimeyer was the former Dean of Academics at the Naval War College and Forrest Sherman Chair of Public Diplomacy in Newport, Rhode Island and a former Vice President of Academic Affairs at Valley Forge Military Academy and College. He also previously served as a history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Central Oklahoma. During his 20 year career as a military officer, Dr. Neimeyer served in a variety of posts and stations in the Marine Corps, including tours in all three active Marine Divisions and service at the White House. He is the author of America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army, 1775 – 1783 (New York University Press, 1996) and The Revolutionary War, (Greenwood Press, 2007). He edited a volume published by the U.S. Naval Institute in 2008 titled, On the Corps: USMC Wisdom from the pages of Leatherneck, Marine Corps Gazette, and Proceedings.

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