Why didn't the British try to reconquer the US after 1812?

Aug 2010
16,055
Welsh Marches
There is further discussion here (American programme):
The Constitution seems to have been well-commanded, surely a factor, but it is described here as a 'super-frigate' which could outmatch frigates in other navies of the time. Interesting details about its ingenious construction.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,051
It is in fact very closely argued and shows no particular sign of pro-British bias. It in fact seems rather unlikely that the American officers and crew would be notably superior to those in the RN, unless one is willing to believe that blather about common sailors being inspired by love of freedom; but I would accept real evidence if it suggested that that was the case. There is real specific evidence for the points made in that video.
As I remember, the argument Morrison made was that the US crews were volunteers, whereas the British were mostly press-ganged. Also, the British crews had bad working conditions and pay and were subject to harsh discipline.

The early US Navy did have excellent results in the American Revolutionary War as well as the Quasi-War with France. It might be partly attributed to more effective officers and crews.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,693
Stockport Cheshire UK
As I remember, the argument Morrison made was that the US crews were volunteers, whereas the British were mostly press-ganged. Also, the British crews had bad working conditions and pay and were subject to harsh discipline.
A large percentage of the sailors on Royal Navy ships were volunteers, it was only due to the massive size of the fleet due to the war with France that there was a need for impressment. Once the war with France ended the RN quickly reverted back to an all volunteer force
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,051
The results were lopsided for the US in the War of 1812 at sea before the full strength of the Royal Navy blockaded the coast. They were even more lopsided in the Quasi War with France. There must have been some reason, better ships, better training, more motivated crews, better officers and commanders? Maybe it was the live oak?

I don't agree with claims that the Star Spangled Banner is racist, but "hireling and slave" is likely a literal reference to mercenaries and runaway slaves. Not sure the British used mercenaries in the War of 1812, but close to half of their force in the Revolutionary War was "hired" conscripted German troops. It may be a repeat of language used then when runaway slaves were also part of the British Army.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,873
The results were lopsided for the US in the War of 1812 at sea before the full strength of the Royal Navy blockaded the coast. They were even more lopsided in the Quasi War with France. There must have been some reason, better ships, better training, more motivated crews, better officers and commanders? Maybe it was the live oak?

I don't agree with claims that the Star Spangled Banner is racist, but "hireling and slave" is likely a literal reference to mercenaries and runaway slaves. Not sure the British used mercenaries in the War of 1812, but close to half of their force in the Revolutionary War was "hired" conscripted German troops. It may be a repeat of language used then when runaway slaves were also part of the British Army.
The US was losing a loty of ships being captured by the British. The US won a few high profile duels wherte their lareg frigates which had 50% greater wieght of broadside previaled, there is really no further explanation needed, teh more even froigate encounters the US actually lost, i Teh US trade was driven from teh seas, teh BRityish trade basically untouched. Teh US lost very large numbers of ships and was bankrupt at the end of the war.
 
Aug 2010
16,055
Welsh Marches
As I remember, the argument Morrison made was that the US crews were volunteers, whereas the British were mostly press-ganged. Also, the British crews had bad working conditions and pay and were subject to harsh discipline.

The early US Navy did have excellent results in the American Revolutionary War as well as the Quasi-War with France. It might be partly attributed to more effective officers and crews.
That sounds superficially plausible, but one would need more evidence beyond the suggestion of a patriotic historian. In the first place, it doesn't apply to the officers, who play a crucial role in turning a ship into an effective fighting macihine, and would thus have to examine their qualities on a one-to-one basis; and secondly, no one is paying any particular attention to such things in the heat of battle, which consisted of an unimaginable concentration of noise, danger, explosion and flying debris, the crucial factor was the quality of their training which would enable them act effectively in the midst of all of that. Whatever else can be said of the RN, their crews tended to be well-trained. If I remember rightly, the crew of the Constitution had only been together for 2 months at the time of its first fight, and I think we can exclude from the beginning that they were particualrly well-trained. Its commander conducted himself very well in his first engagement and the RN commander not so well, but that again has nothing to do with Morison's argument. I am just very sceptical of it, it reads like the kind of thing that one used to reads in the works of old-fashioned patriotic historians like Arthur Bryant. On the other hand, the superior qualities of the American 'super-frigates' as fighting vessels compared to the standard European frigates is an agreed fact. By comparison, any difference in morale (if it was in fact significant) would probably have been a marginal rather than a determining factor.
 
Feb 2011
1,039
Scotland
Perhaps one of the problems is that we are viewing the term 'frigate' in 20th century terms, as a small warship, well below Battleships, Heavy and Light Cruisers and Destroyers in hitting power.

In 18th century terms (which is pretty much where they were in 1812) a frigate was just a little below ships of the line.

I think the Americans must be given credit for implementing a sensible strategy against their giant opponent.

Despite a previous poster's mantra about the US Navy being 'greatest in the world', this was far from the case in 1800 or so and the US knew it. Whilst the Royal Navy was huge, it had many duties and distractions, whilst the US Navy was planned with a single primary opponent in mind. While the Royal Navy was stretched in terms of its resources in quantity and quality, the Americans were able to concentrate their much smaller resources on both counts.

They built a class of ships fast enough to outrun anything capable of outgunning them but well-armed enough to defeat anything that might catch them. They were the 'pocket battleships' of their day.

Their impact was initially shocking to the British; but eventually the RN concentrated the resources qualitatively and quantitatively to overcome the US Navy.

Perhaps the most important outcome was a degree of mutual respect, which brought both sides together as the century progressed.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,051
the US Navy was planned with a single primary opponent in mind.
Do you have some basis for this claim? The US Navy had been used before against France and the Barbery pirates. There might have been a possiblity of conflict with Spain or other powers. It is possible it could have been used against privateers or pirates.

Interesting discussion. It appears the US built quality ships rather than large or many ships.