Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: The Lion & The Union

A lucky find in my local library is one of the few in depth studies on the history of the little known Anglo-American war of 1812-1815. A war which is mainly known just for the burning of the White House, and the writing of 'The Star Spangled Banner', a war that had one of its' largest land battles after the peace treaties had been signed for many weeks.

From the wargamers standpoint the book is a mixed feast, Kate is very readable, but nonetheless spends the first half of the book - some 140 pages - dealing with the political context and run up to the war. Once she gets on to the matter of the war though it certainly holds the attention and throws up all manner of interesting skirmishes and small scale actions for the wargamer to try to represent. For example attacks across the frozen St Lawrence with artillery mounted on sleighs! However, there are few maps, which makes following the spatial details difficult, and the native American aspect is covered very thinly.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the simple one of keeping track of the many characters and which side they are on. Some of the rival commanders held office for fairly short periods, and of course there is little to distinguish and American name from a British one. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile read, and one which should be in the collection of anyone with an interest in the war.

Sifting through the material will give you details of dozens of engagements, unit sizes and organisation (for example, locally raised Canadian light companies numbered 41 men), and the odd uniform detail too.

Published in 1978, expect to find this only on reputable book selling sites like or in your local second hand specialists.

1 comment:

  1. more on war of 1812 at