The excitement of a new war against the British quickly filtered through the young republic. Wounds of the previous war were still fresh in both spirit and flesh and America relished the feel of flexing her muscles. So when the British demonstrated fresh sparks of war, the new Americans took notice. And my ancestor, James Luna, placed his signature to the list of volunteers of Andrew Jackson's Tennessee Militia.

The War of 1812 produced new battlegrounds to a country rebuilding from the American Revolution. And many of our ancestors quickly signed to fight as they and their fathers did just a few years before. But the mightier and more romantic American Revolution has ultimately, overshadowed their dedication and bravery.

The actions that lead to the new war against the British in 1812 did not carry the grandeur and theatrics that our forefathers brought forth when signing the Declaration of Independence. History has portrayed the events as almost vague and obscure. Leaving many of today's Americans feeling puzzled by the cause of the war.

Was it just an extension of the American Revolution, a short epilogue to the real, historic war?  If you were given a test today and asked to explain the cause of the War of 1812, could you provide a quick answer?

The War of 1812 was ambiguous to those of both the past and present. Due to the aggressiveness of the British Navy attempting to overtake and capture American merchant vessels, the young America declared war on Britain. It was in simple terms, a maritime war over "Free Trade and Sailor's Rights."

But why the obscurity? Perhaps the Revolution was just too masterful and its shadow too overpowering. Or perhaps, it was the War of 1812's anticlimactic ending. A British admission of defeat was never declared: just a treaty signed by both countries agreeing to return to status quo.

The war did produce some remarkable outcomes for America; great generals such as Andrew Jackson and songs like the Star Spangled Banner. And it provided a young, patriotic country the ability to state its new found autonomy.

I envision my ancestor walking up the large steps of the Marshall County, Tennessee Courthouse, swinging open the monstrous wooden doors, eyes pierced with conviction. Never flinching or giving pause to reflect on his motives, James Luna must have signed that certificate with a firm hand. Obscurity of the cause of war was most likely, not in his thinking.

If you have ancestors who fought in the War of 1812; gain a greater grasp on the history and meaning of the war. We are soon approaching the bicentennial of the war and hopefully, there will be renewed interest. PBS presented a series this week on the War of 1812 and their website has unfolded a beautiful and fact filled presentation on the war. I highly recommend bookmarking the site for your review.

It is not enough to know our ancestors fought in the War of 1812. We owe them our efforts to learn about the historical war. To grasp a greater understanding of events that lead to he war and to feel proud that they unselfishly placed their lives at peril, so we can live our life of freedom today.

Keep searching for answers,

(Source: PBS: The War of 1812)