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War of 1812  |  Biography

George Prévost

Portrait of George Prévost
TitleGovernor General of British North America; Commander-in-Chief, North America; Lieutenant General
War & AffiliationWar of 1812 / British
Date of Birth - DeathMay 19, 1767 - January 5, 1816

Ironically for one of the preeminent British commanders in the War of 1812, George Prévost was born in New Jersey shortly before the American Revolution. His father was Swiss born veteran of the French and Indian War and a British general in American Revolution most famous for his success at the Siege of Savannah, Georgia. George Prévost followed his father into the British army as an officer. He rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a lieutenant general and serving in several political posts before being named Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of British North America just before the war began. His political leadership was marked by efforts to cooperate with native Canadians to avoid internal strife, which helped promote Canadian unity when war broke out. Prévost also tried (unsuccessfully) to broker a truce in the Northern theater in the early days of the conflict when it seemed that the British government was willing to negotiate with the Americans. After the war began, he personally took command of British troops in 1813 and 1814 when colleague died, but he had little success. Together with internal conflict with his subordinates, his failed raid on the American shipyard at Sackets Harbor, New York, and his part in the British naval defeat at the Battle of Plattsburg damaged his reputation, and he was recalled to Britain where he died before he was fully able to clear his name.