The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

A Relatively Peaceful Decade

The decade following the end of the War of American Independence was relatively peaceful. The new republic of the United States no longer represented a threat, at least for the immediate future. Its powerful army was nearly completely demobilized in 1783 and it had no more than a few companies to guard its arsenals. Its modest navy had also been eliminated. Only the militias of the various states could, if required, raise a considerable number of troops. But their mandate was more defensive than offensive, because they were legally required to serve only within their boundaries. The British colonies to the north of the United States thus had nothing further to fear.

The last war had also exhausted the British army, and it took several years to recover. That is why, following the demobilization of the American army, Great Britain decided to keep only a small number of regular troops in North America. The Royal Navy remained very powerful, however, keeping its position as the largest fleet in the world. The naval protection of Canada was provided by its North Atlantic Squadron based in Halifax and by the small ships of the Provincial Marine plying the Great Lakes.