War of 1812 Timeline: 1812

Go here for the War of 1812 in a Nutshell

If these timelines of the War of 1812 are too detailed, check the  War of 1812 - Key Events, which are a summary of the years 1812-1815.

For overlapping events related to the  Napoleonic Wars see the timelines of the Napoleonic Wars for the years 1812-1815:

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1812

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1813

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1814

Napoleonic Wars: Year 1815


January 25, 1812
Josiah Quincy delivers his speech on Maritime Protection before Congress, in which he asks for "maritime defense of our maritime rights."


February 8, 1812
U.S. President James Madison purchases documents from a British spy, John Henry, for $50,000. These are the John Henry Letters, and it turns out that they are not much more than hot air and John Henry not much of a spy. However, for those Americans who didn't like the British before, now like them even less.


March 9, 1812
John Henry Letters are released.


April 4, 1812
The U.S. signs another embargo. This one is for 90 days.

Embargo - April 4, 1812
"Believing war to be only days away, President Madison declared an embargo on April 4, 1812, in an effort to keep American ships in port and out of the hands of the British. This Massachusetts broadside announces the unpopular legislation."
Lilly Library / Indiana University


April 8, 1812
Congress declares Louisiana (Orleans Territory) one of the United States of America, effective April 30, 1812.

April 14, 1812
The United States add a non-exportation law for the duration of the 90 day embargo of April 4, 1812.

Also on April 14, 1812:
After the declaration on April 8 with regards to Louisiana, Congress adds to the state of Louisiana the Florida Parishes, which is the land between the Mississippi and Pearl River, the area that had been briefly the
Republic of West Florida in 1810, thanks to the West Florida Revolt.

April 30, 1812
Louisiana is admitted to the Union.

May 11, 1812
Assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval (Tory) in the lobby of the House of Commons, London, by John Bellingham, who had a personal grudge against the British government, and pistols. Bellingham shot Perceval in the chest and Perceval died almost immediately.

Bellingham will be tried on May 15, and executed on May 18, 1812.

On June 8, 1812, Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, will become the new British prime minister.

May 14, 1812
Congress declares the middle part of West Florida, from the Pearl River to the Perdido River, as officially annexed, and adds it to the Territory of Mississippi.


May 15, 1812
Trial of John Bellingham, assassin of Spencer Perceval. He is found guilty of murder.


May 18, 1812
Execution of John Bellingham, assassin of Spencer Perceval.


May 22, 1812
The eagerly expected U.S Sloop Hornet (20 guns) arrives from Europe but didn't bring news of British concessions.


June 1, 1812
President Madison sends a secret war message to Congress.


June 4, 1812
The U.S. House of Representatives passes the war bill with 79 to 49 votes.


June 8, 1812
After the assassination of British prime minister Spencer Perceval on
May 11, 1812, Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (Tory), becomes his successor on this day. Liverpool will remain in this position for a solid 15 years, until February 17, 1827, to be exact.


June 16, 1812
British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh announces in Parliament that the Orders-in-Council would be suspended IF the United States dropped its ban on British imports. On June 24, 1812 they will be suspended even without a reply from the U.S.


June 17, 1812
The U.S. Senate passes the war bill with 19 to 13 votes.


June 18, 1812
President Madison signs the war bill into law. The U.S. declares war against Great Britain.

The War of 1812 begins.


June 20, 1812
A clip from today's Baltimore Federal Republican newspaper:

We mean to represent, in as strong colors as we are capable, that the war is unnecessary, inexpedient, and entered into from partial, personal, and, as we believe, motives bearing upon their front marks of undisguised foreign influence which cannot be mistaken.


June 22, 1812
The Baltimore Riots begin. They will last into August.


June 24, 1812
The new British Prime Minister Liverpool repeals the Orders-in-Council. This move had been announced by Castlereagh on June 16, 1812, provided the U.S. would drop the ban on British imports. The U.S. had not replied, but today, the Orders-in-Council were repealed anyway.

Driving force behind the revocation of the Orders-in-Council was Henry Peter Brougham, later lord chancellor, who saw these measures as a threat to both, British trade and peace with the U.S.

Unfortunately, it was too late. Arguably, the war wouldn't have been declared if the orders in council would have been repealed earlier, or if news of their cancellation could have been communicated faster.

Meanwhile in Europe: Napoleon is on his way to  invade Russia.


June 29, 1812
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison:

To continue the war popular, two things are necessary mainly, 1. To stop Indian barbarities. The conquest of Canada will do this. 2. To furnish markets for our produce, say indeed for our flour, for tobacco is already given up, and seemingly without reluctance.

The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress

July 5, 1812
U.S. General William Hull and 2,000 troops reach Detroit.


July 12, 1812
Invasion of Canada: U.S. General William Hull crosses the Detroit River into British territory. His goal is to attack Fort Amherstburg (also called Fort Malden.)


July 16, 1812
Captain Charles Roberts, British commander of Fort St. Joseph, gathers his 45 men, 180 Canadians, around 300 Indians, and makes for Fort Mackinac (also called Fort Michilimackinac.) General Brock has given him permission to attack the Americans there, who, by the way, still haven't heard the news of the war declaration.

July 17, 1812
At 10 a.m., the U.S. garrison at Fort Michilimackinac (Fort Mackinac - 54 to 61 troops), under Lt. Porter Hanks, has to deal with a British request to surrender. Outnumbered, Hanks has no alternative. He submits to the British, led by Roberts, by noon.

For Hanks personally it will get worse. He will be defeated by a British cannon ball on August 17, 1812.

Map Location Fort St. Joseph, Fort Mackinac, Fort Amherstburg
Map Location of Fort St. Joseph, Fort Michilimackinac (also called Fort Mackinac), and Fort Amherstburg (also called Fort Malden)
Click to enlarge


August 5, 1812
Battle of Brownstown. British victory. U.S. Major Thomas Van Horne and about 150 to 200 troops leave Detroit and run into an ambush just before Brownstown. A small band of Indians, led by Tecumseh, kill 17 U.S. troops, leave several wounded, and capture Van Horne's mail, which they forward to the British at Fort Malden.

Van Horne and his men return to Detroit. They were sent by General Hull to meet around 200 militia that came from Ohio with supplies for Hull and stopped at the Raisin River.

After this incident, Hull withdraws across the Detroit River to Detroit. He will send a second unit to secure supply lines on August 9, 1812.

Battle of Brownstown - August 5, 1812 - Map
Battle of Brownstown - August 5, 1812 - Map


August 9, 1812
Battle of Monguagon (Maguaga), today's Trenton, Michigan. U.S. victory. A second U.S. detachment sent by Hull, this time 600 men led by Lt. Col. James Miller, to connect with his supplies gets attacked at the abandoned Indian town Maguaga (Monguagon) just outside Detroit. Around 350 to 400 British and Indian troops are led by Adam Muir and Tecumseh. The Americans win this battle and withdraw to Fort Detroit.


August 10, 1812
In Halifax, U.S. major general Henry Dearborn and Canada governor-general Sir George Prevost agree to an armistice. U.S. President Madison will annul this agreement on September 8, 1812, because the issue of
impressment has still not been taken care of.


August 13, 1812
Brock reaches Amherstburg, Ontario.

One of these August days, Brock and Tecumseh meet here at Amherstburg.

The Meeting of Brock and Tecumseh, 1812
The Meeting of Brock and Tecumseh, 1812
C.W. Jefferys
Library & Archives Canada


August 15, 1812
Led by Major General Isaac Brock, the British and their Native American allies, led by Tecumseh, surround Fort Detroit, capital of Michigan Territory, and start bombardment.

Also on August 15, 1812: Fort Dearborn evacuated. Fort Dearborn Massacre.


August 16, 1812
U.S. surrender of Detroit, capital of Michigan Territory. British artillery fire started again early this morning. Hull surrenders Detroit to General Brock. The British take 2,500 American regulars prisoners of war.

For this victory, Brock will become a Knight of the Order of the Bath. Hull, on the other hand, will be court-martialed, convicted, sentenced to death, and pardoned by President James Madison. Detroit will remain in British hands until September 10, 1813.

Thus ends this first U.S. attempt to invade Canada.


August 19, 1812
USS Constitution under Capt. Isaac Hull, vs. HMS Guerriere under Capt. James R. Dacres. The Constitution wins.


September 8, 1812
President Madison invalidates the cease-fire that was agreed upon by Dearborn and Prevost on August 9, 1812.


September 17, 1812
Tippecanoe veteran William Henry Harrison becomes major general of all military forces in the Northwest.


September 21, 1812
Russia's foreign minister Count Nicholas Romanzoff informs the U.S. minister to St. Petersburg
John Quincy Adams that Czar Alexander I is eager to unite all French enemies and offers mediation between Great Britain and the United States. If successful, this would allow Britain to focus entirely on defeating Russia's main enemy, Napoleon.

U.S. President Madison will accept this mediation offer. Britain will ignore it, but will offer in its stead direct negotiations with the Americans.


October 13, 1812
Battle of Queenston (Queenstown) Heights, Upper Canada. British victory but Sir Isaac Brock is mortally wounded. This battle concludes the second U.S. attempt to invade Canada.

Battle of Queenston Heights - October 13th, 1812
Battle of Queenston Heights - October 13th, 1812
John David Kelly
Library Archives Canada


October 18, 1812
USS Wasp vs. HMS Frolic. U.S. victory.


October 25, 1812
USS United States vs. HMS Macedonian. The Macedonian surrenders after 90 minutes. The British suffer 36 dead and 68 wounded. The Americans suffer 7 dead and 5 wounded.

U.S. frigate United States capturing the British frigate Macedonian
U.S. frigate United States capturing the British frigate Macedonian
Color lithograph by Currier & Ives
Library of Congress


November 20, 1812
First Battle of Lacolle Mill, also spelled La Colle Mill. Draw. U.S. major general Dearborn and his men retreat to Plattsburgh (Plattsburg.) This concludes the third U.S. invasion attempt of Canada.

The Second Battle of Lacolle Mill will take place on March 30, 1814.


December 24, 1812
Joel Barlow, U.S. Minister to France, dies in Poland of pneumonia. He was en route to Wilna, Lithuania, to meet with Napoleon, who himself had invited him there for negotiations at his winter headquarters.


December 29, 1812
USS Constitution under Commodore William Bainbridge vs. HMS Java under Henry Lambert. This naval battle takes place off the coast of Brazil. The Constitution wins. Captain Lambert receives a musket shot in his chest and will die on January 4, 1813.





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