11.09.2014

Duke of Wellington's views on sea power on the lakes; recommends no territorial claims


November 9, 1814

Letter from Duke of Wellington to Britain’s Prime Minister:

“ …I believe there are enough troops there for the defense of Canada forever, and even for the accomplishment of any reasonable offensive plan…all the American armies of which I have ever read would not beat out of a field of battle the troops that went from Bordeaux last summer, if common precautions and care were taken of them. 

That which appears to be wanting in America is not a General or General Officers and troops, but a naval superiority on the Lakes…the question is whether we can acquire this naval superiority on the Lakes. If we can’t, I shall do you but little good in America: and I shall go there only to prove the truth of Prevost’s defense and to sign a peace which might as well be signed now….

Considering every  thing, it is my opinion that the war has been a most successful one, and highly honorable…. but …you have not been able to carry it into the enemy’s territory, not withstanding your military success, and now undoubted military superiority and have not even cleared your own territory of the enemy on the point of attack…. 

You cannot then, on any principle of equality in negotiation, claim a cession of territory …excepting in exchange for other advantages which you have in your power.”

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