Book Review: The United States Army in the War of 1812: Concise Biographies of Commanders and Operational Histories of Regiments, with Bibliographies of Published and Primary Sources

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by John C. Fredriksen

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. Pp. vii, 303. Illus, maps, biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 9780786441433

Although public interest in the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is almost non-existent, a number of books have begun to appear on the subject, among which Fredricksen's The United States Army in the War of 1812 is particularly valuable.

The author of Civil War Almanac (2008), The B-45 Tornado (2009), and several other works, Fredriksen gives us a useful series of profiles of federal officials, military officers, and U.S. Army formations that served during the war.  Most of these men and all of these formations are today largely forgotten.  Aside from President Madison, and generals Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Winfield Scott, for virtually all of the men the short biographies in this work are the only available accounts of their lives and careers, despite often stellar services to the nation, from such able officers as Jacob Brown and Alexander Macomb to the inept Henry Dearborn, William Hull, and James Wilkinson, a corrupt traitor as well.  Similarly, although the Regular Army rose to unprecedented strength during the war, and fought many hard fights, most of the regiments were disbanded or merged into other formations in the post-war years, and their histories are buried in the highly convoluted lineages of modern formations, with the result that many notable feats of arms have largely faded into the mists of time, while some have had their honors inappropriately claimed by modern units. 

This makes the volume a valuable tool for those seriously interested in the war or the history of the U.S. Army. 

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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