When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington

By Peter Snow

In August 1814, the USA military was once defeated simply open air Washington, D.C., by means of the world's maximum army energy. President James Madison and his spouse had simply enough time to escape the White apartment prior to the British invaders entered. British troops stopped to ceremonial dinner at the meal nonetheless sitting at the Madisons' dining-room desk earlier than environment the White condominium on fireplace. the level of the destruction was once mammoth; entire in wooden instead of marble, every thing contained in the mansion was once flamable. purely the outer stone partitions could stand up to the fire.

The tide of the conflict of 1812 may quick flip, in spite of the fact that. lower than a month later, American troops might stand successful on the conflict of citadel McHenry. Poet Francis Scott Key, struck by means of the sight of the yankee flag waving over fortress McHenry, jotted down the beginnings of a poem that may be set to song and develop into the U.S. nationwide anthem, "The superstar Spangled Banner."

In his compelling narrative type, Peter Snow recounts the fast-changing fortunes of that summer's remarkable confrontations. Drawing from a wealth of fabric, together with eyewitness bills, Snow describes the colourful personalities on each side of these staggering occasions: together with the beleaguered President James Madison and primary woman Dolley, American heroes comparable to Joshua Barney and Sam Smith, and improper army leaders like military leader William Winder and battle Secretary John Armstrong. at the British facet, Snow re-creates the fiery Admiral George Cockburn, the wary yet immensely well known significant normal Robert Ross, and sharp-eyed diarists James Scott and George Gleig.

When Britain Burned the White House highlights this remarkable second in British and American historical past, the brave, profitable protection of citadel McHenry and the yankee triumph that might stick to, and America's and Britain's choice to by no means back struggle every one other.

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Bayard Smith, who wasn’t there on the time, yet bought the tale from her neighbours an afternoon or later, acknowledged Cockburn was once visible a few instances driving his white mare up and down the street. He stopped at one condominium and requested a tender woman: ‘Were you ready to determine a savage, a ferocious creature, resembling Josey represented me? yet you spot I’m rather innocuous, don’t be afraid. i'll take greater care of you than Jemmy did! ’ The admiral’s demeanour, Bayard Smith remarked, ‘was that of a standard sailor, no longer of a dignified commander…’. yet she went on, ‘I needs to compliment his moderation, certainly his behavior was once corresponding to to disarm the prejudices that existed. ’ good happy with his reception and the paintings he’d performed that evening, George Cockburn eventually back to headquarters on the Capitol for a number of hours’ sleep. 12 rattling you! You shan’t remain in my apartment 25 August JAMES MADISON was once the one US President in historical past to be a fugitive in his personal state except George Bush Jr who, approximately centuries later, retreated to the USA strategic command bunker at Offutt Air strength Base in Bellevue, Nebraska on eleven September 2001 whilst terrorists struck Washington. Madison’s flight used to be some distance much less successfully organised. He crossed the Potomac at 6 p. m. on Wednesday 24 August 1814, observed through Richard Rush, the legal professional common, and the military Secretary William Jones. they'd no suggestion the place Dolley or the remainder of the Jones relatives have been, and so Madison despatched off a be aware which he was hoping may locate her, suggesting they meet at Wiley’s Tavern close to the nice Falls of the Potomac. Madison and his partners rode on horseback approximately six miles up the west financial institution of the river effectively inside of Virginia. now and then they’d pause on a bit of excessive floor and look again on the fires within the capital. It was once, recalled Rush, ‘a dismal sight … columns of flames and smoke ascending through the night … from the Capitol, the President’s condominium and different public edifices … a few burning slowly, others with bursts of flame, and sparks mounting excessive up at the hours of darkness horizon’. It was once getting past due and the crowd made up our minds to prevent in need of Wiley’s on the condo of a churchman referred to as John Maffitt within the village of Salona. by means of twist of fate Dolley used to be just a mile away. She had now not made it to Wiley’s both yet had stopped on the condominium of a chum, Matilda Love. Sofas and different substitutes for beds have been quickly made prepared for the unforeseen visitors. the ladies spent what one modern chronicler defined as a ‘frightful, depressing evening, all disconsolate, numerous in tears, Mrs. Madison sitting at an open window staring at at the lurid flames and hearing the hoarse murmurs of the smouldering city’. the following day, after a anxious trip via teams of refugees, Dolley Madison and her neighbors and attendants reached Wiley’s Tavern, the appointed assembly position. She was once in for a surprise. The resort used to be packed with fugitive girls whose husbands have been nonetheless with the military and the instant they known Dolley they vented their anger on her for all their misfortunes.

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