The War of 1812, often known also as the Second War of American Independence, was hugely influential in shaping the United States as we know it today. It was fought between the U.S. and Great Britain and its provinces—Upper and Lower Canada—with France acting as a thorn in both of their sides. It included many major land and sea battles spanning four years. It gave the U.S. its national anthem and established it as a major military and political force in the world. It also spurred the emergence and growth of the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Navy Pictorial History of the War of 1812 combines a fresh historical narrative with over 130 dramatic illustrations, many in color, to celebrate this war on its bicentennial. This book focuses on the naval battles of the War of 1812, which tended to be the most important, and proved influential in determining the fate of each of the nations involved. Pictures depict historic battles scenes, impressive naval vessels, and important historical figures, many of whom we remember specifically for their actions in the War of 1812. Most illustrations in this book are from the U.S. Navy archives, and are official works commissioned by the U.S. Navy or created by Naval officers. During the war, many ships had an artist on board whose task was to record battle scenes as they occurred, so several of the illustrations show actions of the War of 1812 as they took place. These illustrations then give us a unique look at a significant period of U.S. history, allowing us to see these events through the eyes of those who witnessed them.