Friday, February 17, 2012

The War of 1812 Is Heating Up

There's a new book out on the War of 1812: Gillum Ferguson's Illinois in the War of 1812. Probably one among many, but this one looks like a corker. Full disclosure: I haven't read it yet, because it's going to take me a while to scrape thirty-five dollars together. So this isn't a review. More of a heads-up for my fellow War of 1812 buffs.

One thing I can tell you about this book, without even reading it, is that the account of the Fort Dearborn Massacre will raise your hair. Metaphorically speaking.

James Madison and the U.S. legislative branch gave little thought to reinforcing (or even warning) the outlying forts when they declared war on Britain, in a fit of spleen, on June 18, 1812. No navy? No army? No problem. The first they knew in the fur-trading fort on the island of Michilimackinac that war had been declared was on July 17, when they were surrounded and captured. And so it went, fort by western fort.

On August 15, 1812, Fort Dearborn, on the site of what is now Chicago, was evacuated by the Americans, who went off into the woods with an escort of "friendly" Potawatomi, headed, as they thought, for Fort Wayne and thence to Detroit (being surrendered even then to the British). They hadn't gone but a couple of miles when the Indians turned on them, killing eighty of them, men, women, and a wagonload of children, and enslaving most of the others. Potawatomi chieftain Black Partridge helped a few to escape. But most of the Indians, let's face it, behaved very badly.

So that was the sort of thing that went on during the War of 1812. The outcome of the war meant a lot to Illinois, as you can discover from Gillum Ferguson's Illinois in the War of 1812.

Kate Gallison


  1. I get all my books now from ( suggested to me by Aurora Ferrero) and the price is usually much below even amazon... tjs

  2. It amazes me how little I know about this war. Am I the only one who remembers only the burning of the White House? Am I even right about that? And I thought I had a pretty good education!