Tennesseans at War, 1812-1815: Andretv Jackson, the Creek War, and the Battle of New Orleans. By Tom Kanon. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2014. 272 pp.
Historians of the War of 1812 cannot agree on the causes of the conflict or the results. Maritime issues--including impressment of American sailors and the seizure of American ships--along with Indian depredations, land expansion, national honor, and liberal anxiety have all served as explanations for the origin of the war. Likewise, the results remain appropriately vague and unclear. Some historians suggest that the United States lost the war because the British burned Washington, DC. Others maintain that the United States won the war because the Treaty of Ghent did not admit American defeat. Still others have suggested that Great Britain won the war because they raided without impunity, and they held on to Canada against repeated American invasions. Finally, some historians have straddled a middle ground, maintaining that neither side won because the war ended in a draw. Even with the passing of 200 years, Americans still question why the war began and who won.
Much of the recent scholarship on the war has emphasized the lack of military results and the civil strife along the Canadian border, the struggle between an undersized American fleet and the superior British Navy, and the intense barbarity of the war in the Chesapeake region. Very few scholars have attempted to reconcile the war in the Gulf South--a complicated conflict that involved Spanish and British forces; Creek, Cherokee, and Choctaw tribes; Frenchmen and Spaniards in Louisiana; and maroon communities that sought isolation and freedom. This complicated, multicorner dichotomy threatened all American communities west of the Appalachians. Tom Kanon's Tennesseans at War, 1812-1815 finally provides an explanation as to how those from the Volunteer State navigated the crisis and, arguably, contributed to the American victory that was the War of 1812.
As Kanon reminds us, the war in the Old Southwest unquestionably reveals an American ascendency and victory. By the time the fighting had ended, American forces had defeated the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend; Spanish forces in...