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…
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