Resurrecting a forgotten chapter in transatlantic history, James G. Cusick tells how, just before the United States went to war against Great Britain in 1812, an ill-advised invasion of a Spanish colony became a stage on which the young republic clumsily acted out its imperial ambitions and racial fears. With the halfhearted backing of President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe, a party of Georgians invaded East Florida, confident that partisans there would help them swiftly wrest the colony away from Spain. The raid was a strategic and political disaster. Few sympathizers materialized, official U.S. support dissolved, and an extended guerrilla war ensued.
This was the "other war of 1812," or the Patriot War. Cusick, a lively storyteller as well as a meticulous scholar, conveys the savagery of the borderlands conflict that pitted American adventurers and anti-Spanish partisans against Spanish loyalists and their allies, who included Seminole Indians and escaped slaves. At the same time, Cusick looks at the American motivations behind the invasion, including apprehensions about Florida's growing population of unregulated blacks and geopolitical intrigues involving Spain, Britain, and France.