Warfare and Logistics along the US-Canadian Border during the War of 1812
Christopher D. Dishman provides a comprehensive study of the combat that took place along the US-Canadian frontier during the War of 1812, where the bulk of the war’s fighting took place. The border region, which included the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, served as Britain’s supply line to receive and distribute supplies. The region’s size, varied topography, and undeveloped infrastructure, however, made this a challenging environment to move troops and supplies to the battlefield. Few large settlements or all-season roads intersected the region, so reinforcements, food, or ammunition could be weeks or months away from their destination. Dishman analyzes the critical role of logistics and explains how the safe and timely arrival of soldiers, shipwrights, cannons, and other provisions often dictated a battle’s outcome before a shot was fired.
The northern frontier between the United States and the British Empire remained the focus of US military efforts throughout the war. The president and Congress declared war on Britain to force its leaders to negotiate on bilateral issues, and America’s only viable offensive military option was to invade Canada. Victory for either side depended on enough men and materials arriving promptly at a remote outpost or dockyard from distant supply depots. Canada could not produce many of its needed items in-country, so America retained a distinct advantage with its indigenous metalworks and iron industries. These components proved critical in a war that depended on the rushed construction of vessels that could outgun their enemy.
“A compelling book that explores the interdependence between logistics and the campaigns fought in the northern theater of the War of 1812. Dishman clearly demonstrates the affect the lengthy and tenuous supply lines had on the provision of equipment, personnel, and food to American and British forces and their Indigenous allies scattered along the frontier. Political, diplomatic, and military factors may have set the military goals for each belligerent, but logistical operations often determined the outcome.”
—Tanya Grodzinski, associate professor emerita, Department of History, Royal Military College of Canada
“Christopher Dishman has written an important book about a neglected aspect of the War of 1812—logistics and supply along the US-Canadian border. In his well-researched and clearly written study, Dishman shows how both England and the United States struggled to overcome transport deficiencies and geographic challenges to supply their respective forces with everything from food to ship-building resources. As the author demonstrates, military success or failure on this expansive frontier was often dependent upon logistical ability.”
—Timothy D. Johnson, university research professor of history, politics, and philosophy, Lipscomb University
“Half the battle along the US-Canadian border during the War of 1812 was getting men and matériel to the battlefield over rugged and inhospitable terrain. With a refreshing emphasis on contemporary sources, Christopher Dishman explores the rutted roadways, boggy swamps, and wind-tossed lakes that dominated the campaigns and provides a greater understanding of the role logistics played in ultimate victory. As Dishman ably demonstrates, the complexities and command rivalries of combined operations on land and water during the War of 1812 foreshadowed today’s joint operations.”
—Walter R. Borneman, author of 1812: The War That Forged a Nation
“Dishman describes the complex interplay of land power, naval power, and logistics in the Great Lakes region during the War of 1812. His extensive scholarship on the victories, defeats, and sheer difficulty of conducting warfare in the wilderness for the British and the Americans is a welcome addition to the historiography of logistics. The documentation of how hard Oliver Hazard Perry worked as a director of shipbuilding and naval training before he could famously say ‘we have met the enemy and he is ours’ is just one example of many in which Dishman demonstrates how important the integration of land armies, navies, and their logistical components were to each side. He pulls no punches and shows how American and British leaders struggled to capitalize on victories due to the tenuous nature of their supply lines. For its illustration of how combined arms was as critical in the age of sail as it is today, Warfare and Logistics along the US-Canadian Border during the War of 1812 deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Corbett’s classic England in the Seven Years’ War.”
—Jobie Turner, author of Feeding Victory: Innovative Military Logistics from Lake George to Khe Sanh
“The least-studied area across the annals of military history is logistics. If it is true that ‘professionals talk logistics while amateurs talk tactics,’ then there are many well-meaning amateurs out there writing books. Warfare and Logistics along the US-Canadian Border during the War of 1812 is an impressive product, both in terms of its in-depth scholarship and for relating its subject matter within the operational context of the frontier battles. The character of this war, especially the adverse geographical and weather conditions the soldiers and sailors faced, is underappreciated by serious students. Thanks to Dishman’s accessible product, the battles and the critical flow of matériel needs can now be understood by ‘professionals.’ Not since Martin van Creveld’s Supplying War has there been such a readable history on this general subject.”
—Frank G. Hoffman, PhD, distinguished research fellow, Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University, and author of Mars Adapting: Military Change during WarSee fewer reviews...
Warfare and Logistics along the US-Canadian Border during the War of 1812 is a deeply researched and highly readable assessment of the successes and failures of military operations from 1812 to 1814. The book also highlights the interdependencies between land and naval operations in the war and illuminates the influence of changing military and political factors on Britain’s and America’s military objectives. Warfare and Logistics along the US-Canadian Border during the War of 1812 also evaluates the performance of the military and civilian officers as Dishman brings a distant war’s battles to life with stories from participating soldiers and civilians.