Part Two: Publications on the Second War of American Independence: The War of 1812

January 23, 2019

Welcome back to our three-part War of 1812 Series. In the last post, we discussed the struggles of the American army, including ill-preparedness and lack of strong leadership. In this series, we’ll start to discover how the American military grew into a force to be reckoned with.

By the end of 1812, after defeats at Detroit, the River Raisin, and Queenston, the Americans had actually lost some of its lands to Great Britain. President James Madison and his administration realized the need to overhaul the military to start winning.

One of the most significant improvements to the American side was the strengthening of the U.S. Navy. Capt. Isaac Chauncey was appointed to command in the Great Lakes. He began to build ships and embark on a naval arms race.

President James Madison also appointed a new secretary of war, Brig. Gen. John Armstrong. And in January 1813, Congress decided to increase the number of officers and raised the pay of all ranks. A private was to earn $8 a month, a substantial increase over the $5 they were receiving at the start of the war. President Madison named four new major generals.

Working together, the Army’s senior officer, Maj. Gen. Henry Dearborn, and Captain Chauncey convinced Armstrong to raid York, modern-day Toronto, where they planned to capture or destroy vessels being built there. The raid was successful, giving the Americans a confidence boost.

General Henry Dearborn followed up this achievement by taking Fort George on the Niagara River. However, their victories were followed by defeats at Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams. The two-pronged campaign to seize Montreal in the fall was likewise defeated at Chateauguay and Crysler’s Farm.

In the west, however, Army-Navy cooperation led to the recapture of Detroit. The war along the border with Canada in 1813 saw a string of bitter defeats punctuated by a victory in the Old Northwest. Perhaps most importantly, the Army was recovering from its early mistakes and adapting to the challenges of the war on the frontiers. Officers and soldiers were learning their trade and gaining valuable experience. But it still wasn’t quite enough. Despite increases in pay, not many citizens were willing to join the “Regular Army.” Despite Madison’s new leadership appointments, there was still a lack of experienced officers and noncommissioned officers to train new regiments. American soldiers continued to lack basic necessities such as warm clothing and food.

For more details on the war, purchase The Canadian Theater, 1813, available on the GPO Online Bookstore.

The Chesapeake Campaign, 1813−1814 details British leaders’ strategic decision to conduct a naval blockade at the Chesapeake Bay.

The British wanted to divert American regulars from the Canadian border and shift their focus to defending their own land. One way to do this was via a naval blockade. The only problem was that with the vast majority of the British army fighting against the French Emperor Napoleon at the same time, the British didn’t have enough ships to cover the extensive coastline of America. So, they decided to focus on one area in particular: The Chesapeake Bay.

The fighting began on February 8, 1813. The British captured the Lottery, just one of the many ships the Royal Navy would seize during what would become the nearly two-year-long campaign.

By mid-April, Americans living in small port towns began to directly feel the effects of the war when R. Adm. George Cockburn of Britain sent sailors and marines ashore to raid small port towns. Although he claimed to have paid for any confiscated property, he usually did so with notes that could only be redeemed after the war. At Havre de Grace in Maryland, Cockburn demanded $20,000 from village leaders. When the town refused, a British officer informed town leaders that “your village shall now feel the effects of war.” The British looted and burned most of the town buildings.

Did the young and still somewhat young American military fight back hard enough to win the battle and prove themselves equal to the soldiers of the British Empire? Order your copy of The Chesapeake Campaign, 1813−1814 to find out how the rest of this two-year campaign ended. And stay tuned for the third and final installation of our War of 1812 Series right here on Government Book Talk.

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Find more than a million official Federal Government publications from all three branches at

About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

Through a Fish’s Eye

May 18, 2011

Guest blogger Tina Perantonakis whets our appetite for seafood and sustainability.

Every time I visit my local grocery store, I’m tempted by the fish and shellfish on display in the seafood case—wild-caught salmon from Alaska, grouper from Florida, catfish from North Carolina, and my favorite, local crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, are just a few examples.  As much as I enjoy most types of seafood, lately I’ve been purchasing fish and shellfish that originate from the safest and most sustainable habitats.

NOAA Fisheries and the National Fish Habitat Board recently published a book that undoubtedly will  help me learn more about aquatic habitats, the environment, and fisheries. The book, Through a Fish’s Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2010, provides an environmental assessment of estuaries and rivers in the United States.  The assessments are supplemented by beautiful color photographs and informative graphs and charts. The book also includes a helpful chapter, “How to Read and Understand This Report,” which describes the methodologies used for the assessment. 

Since I live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I first read the Fish Habitat assessment for theMid-Atlantic States.  Sadly, the report concludes the bay has “a very high risk of current habitat degradation…” and details the human activities that have an effect on fish habitats. The assessments for each region do end on a hopeful note by highlighting public and private conservation projects aimed at reversing damage already done.  Since reading the report, I’ve become more conscious of how my daily activities affect the Bay.  I was even inspired to tackle more Bay-friendly projects around my house, including installing an additional rain barrel to capture rain water and planting native trees in my yard.      

If you’d like to learn which varieties of U.S. seafood are the most sustainable, visit NOAA’s wonderful Fish Watch webpage here.  Through a Fish’s Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2010 can be purchased here or located  in a library here.


Government Stocking Stuffers for Kids

December 10, 2010

 Guest blogger Kelly Seifert talks about Government publications for children.

Having recently had a child, I was happy to discover that there are many great Government publications for kids. I had no idea there were so many educational and fun resources available – and with the holidays quickly approaching, there are so many economical and entertaining gift options to choose from! What’s more, with cold winter days ahead, these booklets are perfect for keeping little minds occupied when it’s too frigid to venture outside!  

For instance, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put out a children’s activity book, Understanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages, Marine Debris 101. Included in this publication are silly stories, coloring activities, word finds, crosswords, memory games, connect the dots, and more. What a great, educational way to teach kids about protecting marine life!

Along the same lines, another great publication is the Chesapeake Bay Activity Book, also put out by NOAA. This book for young children provides information on the Chesapeake Bay watershed and gives them the opportunity to color, connect the dots, try word searches, and even make recipes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also puts out a great coloring and activity book called Marty and Jett’s Activity Book: Let’s Have Fun with Fire and Safety.

Also from FEMA, your kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters team up to teach about fire safety, hot and cold, and what to do when you hear a smoke alarm. Sesame Street Fire Safety Station: Color and Learn includes ideas for mapping emergency escape routes from your home and a few safety rhymes that can be sung.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has teamed up with the American Cancer Society to create the Mission Sunwise Activity Book, which provides puzzles and pages to color about how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen.

From the Department of Energy, try Energy Activities With Energy Ant.

And these are just a small sampling of the amazing publications out there!

As always, parents can also visit their local Federal depository library to find these great resources. With more than 1,200 locations around the country, what could be easier?

Locate a depository library near you.

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