The War of 1812 is the most misunderstood war in American history. But it turns out to have been nothing short of momentous, explains University of Maryland historian Richard Bell. Fought on three fronts, including on the streets of Washington, DC, the War of 1812 unfolded on a grand continental canvas. More than simply the inspiration for the poem that later became our national anthem, the War of 1812 was a watershed moment in the history of a young republic that should best be understood as both the last battle of the Revolution and the first battle of the Civil War.