‘Zeal Intelligence and Intrepidity’: Naval irregular warfare and the War of 1812 on the Lakes

By Benjamin Armstrong, published February 2017


The history of the War of 1812 has been dominated by scrutiny of the duelling frigates, squadron actions, and the British blockade of American ports. Yet, during the con ict from 1812 to 1815, sailors and marines were just as likely to be involved in maritime raiding operations and other irregular missions as they were to work the ‘great guns’ in ship versus ship combat. This paper re-examines operations on the Great Lakes, and particularly Lake Ontario, in order to illuminate the role of irregular operations and small unit and small craft actions. These types of operations were common throughout the age of sail, but receive little attention from scholars. In order to broaden the scope of operational naval history, and the understanding of the roles and missions of naval forces, a wider investigation of naval irregular warfare is warranted both in the War of 1812 and across naval history more generally.

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Filed under: War of 1812 | Internal Waterways
Subjects include: Navies

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