Book Review: The War of 1812 in Person: Fifteen Accounts by United States Army Regulars, Volunteers and Militiamen


by John C. Fredriksen

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. Pp. iv, 324. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 0786447923

Given the competition for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the “Second War for Independence,” has been receiving relatively little attention in the media, but a number of interesting books have been coming, and The War of 1812 in Person is one of them.

In The War of 1812 in Person, Fredriksen, author of The United States Army in the War of 1812, Civil War Almanac, and other interesting works of American military history, tells the story of the war from the perspective of some of the American soldiers who fought it, supplemented by several well-writing “bridging” pieces.  This makes the book of value for several reasons, not least because the voice of the common soldier has rarely been heard.  Here we find regulars, volunteers, and militiamen, officers and enlisted personnel. But Fredrickson has also selected his voices carefully, so that rather than a focus on the famous events, notably the capture and burning of Washington and the Battle of New Orleans, we also hear, and hear more, from the Northern Front, along the Great Lakes and the Canadian border from Detroit to New York, where most of the war was fought, and where it was "won". 

A very good book for anyone interested in this most neglected war or in the experience of the American soldier.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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