Originally posted on National Post | News:
On the outbreak of the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson declared, “The acquisition of Canada … will be a mere matter of marching.” The prediction by the American founding father and third president seemed sensible at the time: The British were tied down in Europe fighting Napoleon. They had fewer than 1,000 regular soldiers defending Canada, and the volunteer Canadian militias in the colonies were no substitute for professional troops.
But there were also the native warriors to consider, and historian say they were vital to the defence of British North America. “First Peoples warriors played crucial roles in the victories at Mackinac, Detroit, and Queenston Heights,” said Peter MacLeod, pre-Confederation historian and curator of the 1812 exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. Their support “saved western Upper Canada from defeat and occupation during the first year of the war.”
Thousands of native warriors led by such heroic figures as Shawnee Chief Tecumseh fought the Americans. Tecumseh’s constant re-deployment of warriors at Fort Detroit in August 1812 convinced the Americans to surrender because they thought they were vastly outnumbered. Tecumseh had fought the Americans previously to save native lands from settlers, including the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. He died at the Battle of the Thames in October 1813, standing with native warriors against the Americans after British troops had fled.