The War of 1812 Magazine
Issue 2: February 2006
Reviews: Books, Film, Collectables and Ephemera
Two War of 1812 Titles that Should not be Overlooked.
Reviewed by: Donald E. Graves
Rammage, Stuart A.The Militia Stood Alone. Malcolm's Mills, 6 November 1814. Author's publication, Penticton, British Columbia, 2000. 205 pages, index, illus., maps.
Stott, Glenn. Greater Evils. The War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario. G. Stott Publishing, Arkona, Ontario, Canada, 2001. 215 pp., illus, maps, index.
These two self-published titles, which have been in print for some years, have not received the attention they deserve. This is particularly true because both books deal with an area of Upper Canada that has been neglected by historians of the War of 1812 -- the London and Western districts, or the southwestern part of the province. As Glenn Stott states in the introduction of Greater Evils, the war "in this region is usually summed up in a page or two or at the very most a chapter in most books about the war." Rammage and Stott set out to rectify this omission in the historiography of the war and both have succeeded admirably.
Greater Evils is a general history of the course of the conflict in southwestern Upper Canada. It is the result of years of very dedicated research on the part of its author who has delved deeply into every available source including official sources, personal manuscripts, some parts of which he reproduces in his text. Stott also visited the scenes of the actions in the area and includes fascinating modern photographs of these locales -- many of which have not changed significantly (except that there are fewer trees). What is notable about Stott's work is that not only has he worked in the better known archival institutions but has also delved deeply into the collections of small local museums and historical societies to turn up hitherto unknown material -- particularly illustrations. The result is a thorough and interesting survey narrative of the war as it played out in the southwestern part of Upper Canada, an area largely abandoned by British regular troops after the American victory at the Thames in October 1813.
The result of this abandonment was that the London and Western Districts suffered frequent American raids during the last year of the war. The most ambitious of these incursions -- and the last of the many invasions of Upper Canada during the war -- was an expedition launched by American Brigadier-General Duncan McArthur in the autumn of 1814. Under orders from Secretary of War John Armstrong to destroy the settlements on the Thames River, McArthur set out from Detroit with a force of about 700 mounted troops on 22 October 1814 and penetrated some 125 miles into British territory. On 6 November, the invaders encountered a force of hastily-assembled Canadian militia near the hamlet of Malcolm's Mills and the result was a complete American victory in the last battle of the war to take place on Canadian soil. In The Militia Stood Alone, Stuart Rammage, a former RCMP officer, has produced a thoroughly-researched, well-illustrated and written, unbiased and economical narrative of a forgotten chapter in the War of 1812.
Both titles are highly recommended for all those interested in the land campaigns of the war in the northwestern theatre of operations.