The War of 1812: Glossary - Page Banner

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Aide-de-camp

Senior officers were assisted in the daily management of their command by a more junior officer, the aide-de-camp.

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Ancaster Bloody Assize, 1814

See Treason Trials.

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Barracks

Building used to house troops, very often in Upper Canada they were blockhouses in the forts.

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Bastion

A corner of a fort generally armed with cannon, designed so that it could fire along flanking walls against attackers.

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BateauDrawing of a bateau

A shallow draft boat used to move supplies on the rivers and lakes of the Canadas.

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Battalion

A body of soldiers consisting of several companies, generally two battalions made up a regiment.

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Battery

Two or more guns, sometimes mounted in a fort’s bastion.

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Blockade

The use of naval power to prevent an enemy nation from shipping goods from its ports. Generally it involves stationing war vessels off the coast to prevent the departure of commercial or war ships.

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Sketch of blockhouse

Blockhouse

A fortified building, sometimes part of a larger fort, used as a barracks for the troops and as a strong point during an attack.

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British North America

That part of North America which did not separate from the British Empire as part of the United States in 1783. The colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland were the individual components of British North America.

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Campaign

A military operation with some more or less defined objective that might involve a combination of movement and one or more battles. The most sustained campaign of the War of 1812 followed the American invasion of Niagara in 1814.

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Canister

Small iron balls fired from a cannon with the effect of a shotgun, scattering shot in all directions.

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Citadel

Large hill top fortifications, the best examples in Canada are at Quebec City and Halifax.

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Commissariat

The supply wing of an army.

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Commission

The document recognizing an officers rank in the military hierarchy. Ensign-Lieutenant-Captain-Major-Colonel-General, with many gradations within each rank.

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Company

A body of soldiers numbering 60-100, generally commanded by a captain.

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Dragoons

A type of cavalry that could also fight as infantry.

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Flank

The right or left side of a military formation, generally considered the most vulnerable point at which to launch and attack.

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French Revolution

The rebellion, 1789, that eventually overthrew the French Monarchy for a republic, which was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Garrison

Troops defending a fortification or a town.

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Grape Shot

Like canister, small iron balls fired from a cannon with the effect of a shotgun, scattering shot in all directions.

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Guns Photo: Cannon

Smooth bore artillery firing solid shot or various forms of canister.

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Habeas Corpus

Legal term, a justice of the peace could issue a writ of habeas corpus requiring that the authorities either release or charge an individual in custody with a specific crime.

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Incorporated Militia

Local troops to be trained and equipped like regular forces and to serve for the duration of the War. See also Sedentary Militia.

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King’s Shilling

A recruit to the British army would receive a shilling on signing up.

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Loyalist

Those who supported the British government during the American War of Independence, many of them moved to Upper Canada in the 1780s and 1790s.

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Milan Decrees

These were orders issued by Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor of France closing European ports to trade with Britain and neutral ships that had stopped at British ports.

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Militia

The part-time civilian military force used in Great Britain, Upper Canada and the United States. See also Incorporated Militia and Sedentary Militia.

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Orders-in-Council

Order issued under the signature of the King of Great Britain, or of a Governor in a British colony, that set regulations on a particular issue. In the case of the War of 1812, the Orders-in-Council restricted trade by neutrals with France.

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Ordnance

Artillery and related ammunition and equipment.

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Palisades

A line of vertical stakes embedded in the ground used as part of a fortification.

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Parole

A written agreement in which a soldier was released from captivity by agreeing not to serve again either for a specific period of time or until the war ended.

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Powder Magazine

A building, generally within a fort, designed store gunpowder.

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Prize Money

Troops received a share of the proceeds from the sale of goods captured in military campaigns.

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Quartermaster

Military officer responsible for distribution of supplies to the troops (from the Commissariat Department) and the provision of quarters in the field.

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Rebellion of 1837

A rebellion against British rule in Upper Canada, the rebels were quickly defeated. In 1838-1840 there were several raids from the United States by supporters of the rebellion, including an attack on Brock’s Monument.

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Rush-Bagot Treaty

A treaty between Great Britain and the United States which limited the size of naval forces both sides could maintain on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, signed in 1818.

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Sedentary Militia

Under the Militia Act all able bodied males in Upper Canada were obligated to serve in the militia. The Sedentary Militia was the part of the eligible force that was only called up in case of emergency and had limited training and little equipment. See also Incorporated Militia.

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Squadron

A. A small naval force.
B. A small cavalry force.

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Stores

Military supplies of all kinds.

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Strategy

The use of manoeuvre and movement to obtain an advantage over an opposing army.

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Tactics Drawing: Battle at Lundy's Lane

The use of weapons and men on the battlefield.

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Theatre (of operations)

A geographic area defining where military operations occurred. For example, The St. Lawrence, Niagara and Detroit Rivers defined three of the major theatres of the 1812 conflict.

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Treason Trials

In the spring of 1814 the Government of Upper Canada conducted a series of trials of men accused of aiding the American forces the previous year during the enemy occupation of the Niagara and Western districts. The assize (court hearing) was held at the small community of Ancaster (part of Hamilton today). Fifteen were convicted of treason. The sentences of seven were eventually commuted to expulsion from the province. The remaining eight were hanged at Ancaster in July, 1814.

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Treaty of Ghent

The treaty between Great Britain and the United States that brought the War of 1812 to an end. It was finalized early in 1815.

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