That time the US tried to invade Canada and failed:

The United States Army is a force to be reckoned with. However, it may surprise you that they were actually once a laughing stock when the US tried to invade Canada.

The United States has had a relatively peaceful and cordial relationship with Canada.  However, the US tried to invade Canada in 1812 and let’s just say things didn’t go quite to plan. U.S. forces soon found themselves embarrassed by mishap after mishap.

In 1812, The United States declared War on Great Britain. At the time, there were around 500,000 people living in Canada, a British Colony, while there were approximately 7.5 million people in the United States. Although a British Colony, the majority of residents in Canada were of American or French descent, not British.

stock photo flagsTheir reasoning was attributed to the British taking American sailors and forcing them to serve for the British Navy as well as systems that were designed to halt trade.

Everybody assumed invading Canada would be a walk in the park for a number of reasons. Firstly, the obvious differences in population meant the U.S. forces had more citizens to draw on and secondly due to British forces being too preoccupied with wars in Europe to come to Canada’s assistance.

The seizing of Quebec was described by former President Thomas Jefferson as a “mere matter of marching”. Basically, we will invade, and we will win.

Although, they didn’t take into account that the United States only had 12,000 uniformed men, many of whom were too incompetent or under skilled.

They also didn’t take into account that the Great Lakes were controlled by the British, and therefore were in charge of moving troops and supplies. The British were supported by the Canadians and the U.S. wrongfully assumed that Canada would view their invasion as liberating. Terribly unprepared, the U.S. set out to invade Canada anyway.

The first time the US tried to invade Canada

battle_of_ridgewayU.S. General William Hull assembled 2,000 troops for an assault on Fort Malden in Canada. Unfortunately for him, the British found out about this when they apprehended his dinghy and seized his belongings, which included his plan of attack.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, almost 200 men then refused to leave American territory. Not shaken by the revelation, General William Hull decided to continue on with the mission.

On July 12 1812, General William Hull and his now smaller number of men crossed the Detroit River and ventured into Canada where he declared Canadians would be freed from “tyranny and oppression”.

After managing to briefly lay siege to Fort Malden, U.S. troops had to hastily withdraw after their supply chain was intercepted. They were then chased back across the Detroit River, and into the United States by British commander Isaac Brock and his men. British forces then commenced cannon fire at Fort Detroit.
Intimidated and embarrassed, General William Hull surrendered his army and the city of Detroit in August after a cannonball fired through his officer’s mess hall resulting in the deaths of four of his men.

The British had also captured Fort Dearborn in what is now known as Chicago, along with the base on Mackinac Island by Lake Michigan. General William Hull was later charged with cowardice and neglect of duty.

The second time the US tried to invade Canada
War_of_1812_Battle_of_Queenston_HeightsMeanwhile, U.S. General Stephen Van Rensselaer prepared his troops for an assault on Queenston Heights, on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Continuing their bad luck, their plans were delayed by several days after an officer went missing with all of their oars.

They progressed with their plans anyway, and invaded Canada in October 1812. However, more bad luck followed with approximately 950 troops being captured after troops from New York refused to leave American soil to come help them.

The third time the US tried to invade Canada

Tecumseh killed by William Henry Harrison's forces at the Battle of the Thames, 1813. Hand-colored halftone of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)In the third attempt of invasion, U.S. General Henry Dearborn, along with 6,000 troops planned to capture Montreal. More militiamen refused to leave home soil to assist the troops in need. U.S. troops also accidently started firing up on each other in the dark, which resulted in them retreating without ever actually stepping foot onto Canadian soil.

Soon after, The U.S. and the British both signed the Treaty of Ghent, which returned British-controlled lands back to the United States and American-controlled lands of Upper Canada back to the British.
After this was signed, the U.S. forces regrouped. In 1813, with a stronger navy and army, and more skilled military commanders, U.S. forces obliterated the British fleet on Lake Erie, reclaimed Detroit, took over Fort George near Niagara River, and won the Battle of Thames. They also managed to seize York (now known as Toronto) and burn government buildings to the ground.

The fourth time the US tried to invade Canada

Fort Erie in 1814They then attempted and failed another invasion effort on Montreal and were pushed back across the Niagara River. With more British troops freed up from wars in Europe winding down, the Americans soon found themselves outnumbered.

U.S. forces did manage a few important victories at New Orleans, Lake Champlain and Baltimore, but after evacuating and blowing up Fort Erie in 1814, U.S. forces left for good.

A peace treaty followed the violence, outlining that all land seized on either side would be returned to the rightful nation. A grand reconciliation ball was even held to solidify an alliance. Nowadays, the U.S. and Canadian armies have not have become strong allies and have not engaged in any war or violence.

So for now… Canada is not part of the United States, yet.

Now Straight To Your Inbox

Real Stories Worth Sharing to your inbox, Now Daily