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War of 1812: January 1812 to June 1812


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January 1812 - June 1812


Arrival of British reinforcements to Quebec City, Lower Canada: 103rd Regiment.


Militia Volunteer company strength units are formed in counties throughout Upper Canada:

  • Cavalry Troops: 1st Leeds, 2nd Grenville, 1st Lennox, 1st Addington, 1st Prince Edward, 1st York, 1st and 2nd Lincoln, 2nd Essex, and 1st Kent.
  • Artillery Companies: 1st Frontenac, 1st and 2nd Lincoln.
  • Rifle Companies: 1st Grenville, 1st and 2nd Leeds, 1st York, 1st Norfolk, and 1st Oxford.

January-May 1812

First Nations raid American settlements in the territories of Missouri and Indiana.

February 1812

The Militia Act of Upper Canada is amended.

The first Militia Act of Upper Canada was adopted in 1793 to organize the local citizenry in the defence of the colony.  It remained relatively unchanged until early 1812 when, faced with the growing threat of war with the United States, Major-General Isaac Brock, in his capacity as President of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, asked the provincial legislature for funds to better prepare the militia in case of hostilities.  The resulting law provided each battalion of county militia two flank companies that would receive equipment, regular training and pay. The flank companies were generally the most reliable units and saw the bulk of the fighting of the province's militia during the war.


Governor General Sir George Prevost orders the recruitment of a regiment of fencible infantry from the eastern districts of Upper Canada. The Glengarry Light Infantry will see much action across the province during the War of 1812.

April 1812       

Raising of the Select Embodied Troops, Lower-Canada.

4 April 1812

Lower Canada's legislature passes a new militia law.  Lower Canada's sedentary militia has over 50,000 men.

Despite linguistic factions between English- and French-speaking members of Lower Canada's Legislative Assembly, Governor General Sir George Prevost, was able to get representatives to pass a new Militia Act.  Support was given from the French-Canadian elite who believed loyalty to the crown was in the best interest of their nation.  Furthermore, with war looming and few British regulars for protection, mobilizing domestic forces was deemed necessary.  The new act strengthened the former militia law by increasing expenditures to £12,000 (£30,000 if war erupted) and to mobilize a force of 2,000 men between the ages of 18-25 chosen by lot for the Select Embodied Militia.  Conscription was most resisted in rural parishes where habitants considered their duty to be first and foremost to their families and farms.

15 April 1812

Raising of the Provincial Corps of Light Infantry, known as the Voltigeurs canadiens.

With war threatening, Major Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry proposed raising a corps of predominately French-speaking volunteers in Lower Canada to increase the number of troops available to defend the colony.  Governor General Sir George Prevost approved of the idea and gave Salaberry command of the Provincial Corps of Light Infantry, also known as the Voltigeurs canadiens.  Financed by the province, the corps was not part of the regular British Army establishment but was similarly trained, equipped and armed.  The unit participated in pivotal actions in both Lower and Upper Canada and was disbanded in 1815.  The Voltigeurs' outstanding military exploits confirmed French-Canadian loyalty to the crown and their legacy remains a source of pride among French-Canadians.


Lieutenant-Colonel Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry named commander of the newly created Voltigeurs.

Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry was from a prominent French-speaking Lower Canadian family and as an officer of the British 60th Regiment of Foot had experience fighting abroad.  As tensions between Britain and the United States intensified Salaberry proposed raising a corps of volunteers to increase the forces available to repel a potential American invasion.  Governor General Sir George Prevost named him commander of this corps known as the Voltigeurs canadiens.  Throughout the war there were several disputes between Prevost and Salaberry over commissions and recognition of service causing much frustration for the latter.  Salaberry's accomplishments were recognized in 1817 when he received a knighthood, the Order of the Bath.  Because of the victory at Chateauguay Salaberry became a source of pride and national folk hero.

May 1812              

Raising of four battalions of the Lower Canada Select Embodied Militia.

9 May 1812           

The Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, then stationed in Kingston, Upper Canada, are ordered to form five companies for naval service on the Great Lakes.

12 May 1812

Major General Henry Dearborn, commander of the United-States Northern Department, establishes his headquarters in Albany, New York.

Summer 1812

Charismatic Shawnee Chief Tecumseh allies his First Nations confederacy with the British.

Born circa 1768 in a Shawnee village in what is now Ohio, Tecumseh (Tech-kum-thai) became in the 1790s co-leader with his brother, the Prophet (Tenskwatawa), of a movement to restore and preserve traditional First Nations values. Tecumseh believed that a broad confederacy of First Peoples could drive back white settlement and visited nations from Florida to the Great Lakes region to promote his ideas. Seeing the Americans as the greater threat, he allied himself with the British in 1812 and assembled a substantial force of First Nations fighters. He assisted in the capture of Detroit and fought in numerous battles in Ohio and Michigan Territory. The respected and formidable chief was killed fighting at the Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813. 

5 June 1812           

On Lake Ontario the USS Oneida seizes the British Schooner Lord Nelson on suspicion of smuggling and is taken to Sackets Harbor, New York.

16 June 1812

After a winter of great privation, Britain suspends the orders-in-council against neutral shipping.

18 June 1812

Unaware of the British suspension of the orders-in-council, President James Madison signs a declaration of war against Britain.

Although inconvenient to Britain and France, the embargo was harder on America, especially New England. Thus, in March 1809, then President Thomas Jefferson had replaced the Embargo Act with the Non-Intercourse Act, restoring trade with everyone except Britain and France. This was superseded in 1810 by Macon's Bill No. 2 (after Representative Nathaniel Macon), by which the United States restored trade with Britain and France but promised to cease trading with the enemy of whichever was first to recognize neutral rights. In 1811, after France declared it was ready to do so, the United States renewed non-intercourse against Britain. On 16 June 1812, after a winter of severe privation, Britain announced that it would follow suit. However, by the time word reached Washington, war had already been declared.

June 1812              

News of war between Britain and the U.S. spreads to British posts due to the efforts of John Jacob Astor, head of the Pacific Fur Trade Company.

The declaration of war spread quickly to British frontier outposts through mercantile channels.  While traveling to Washington attempting to avert hostilities between Britain and the United States, John Jacob Astor, an ambitious New York merchant with fur trade interests in the Great Lakes region, learned that war had been declared.  To prevent seizure of his assets in British territory at Fort St. Joseph, he sent word to his western agents via multiple channels including through agents in Montreal from whence a messenger was dispatched and subsequently notified British posts along the way of war's declaration.  Informed of the news ahead of the U.S. garrison at Fort Mackinac, the British stationed at Fort St. Joseph captured Mackinac in July before the Americans could prepare a defence. 

23 June 1812         

In the first action of the war, USS President and HMS Belvidera exchange fire in a running battle off the Connecticut Coast.

25 June 1812

News of the declaration of War reaches Fort George, Upper Canada. 

Contemporary accounts mention that American officers from Fort Niagara were dinner guests at Fort George when news of the American declaration of war arrived.  Thomas Clark, a Queenston merchant and business associate of John Jacob Astor, had received the news from a Mr. Vosburgh the previous day. After hearing the shocking news, the assembly continued their meal.  Following toasts to both King George and President Madison, the Americans returned to their fort in peace.   An American newspaper account noted that "several American gentlemen were there on a visit who were treated very politely by the Governor," namely Major-General Isaac Brock.   The news of war was very unwelcome on both sides of the Niagara River. 


News of the declaration of war reaches Sackets Harbor, New York.

26 June 1812 

Governor General Sir George Prevost learns of the American declaration of war while in Quebec City, Lower Canada.


Innkeeper Abner Hubbard and three companions row out from Mullin's Bay, New York to Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence River and capture the small British outpost consisting of a sergeant, three privates and two women.

27 June 1812         

HMS Belvidera enters Halifax, Nova Scotia where Vice-Admiral Herbert Sawyer concludes that the engagement with USS President on 23 June 1812 was accidental.


Boats from HMS Queen Charlotte capture the American sloop Commencement off Fort Erie, Upper Canada.

28 June 1812

News of the declaration of war reaches Fort Amherstburg, Upper Canada.

29 June 1812

Word reaches Halifax, Nova Scotia of the official declaration of war.


Proclamation ordering American citizens to leave Quebec City, Lower Canada and area.

30 June 1812

A United States army under Brigadier General William Hull, after a march from Dayton, Ohio, arrives on the Detroit frontier in preparation for the invasion of south western Upper Canada.

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War of 1812 Timeline

Section 1: 1775 - November 1811
Section 2: January 1812 - June 1812
Section 3: July 1812 - September 1812
Section 4: October 1812 - December 1812 
Section 5: January 1813 - March 1813
Section 6: April 1813 - June 1813
Section 7: July 1813 - September 1813
Section 8: October 1813 - December 1813
Section 9: January 1814 - March 1814
Section 10: April 1814 - June 1814
Section 11: July 1814 - December 1814
Section 12: January 1815 - 1871

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