Did you know that our great capital, Washington D.C., was once burned to the ground by our enemies? When I first started researching the War of 1812 for a series I intended to write, I was stunned by what I found. I had never learned about this war in school, so it was all new to me. Some call it the Second Revolutionary War because it was Britain's second attempt to gain control of the fledgling new country called America.
The British plan was to destroy our capital city, perhaps even capture our president, which in turn they hoped would cause the United States to become so demoralized they would give up the fight. On August 24th, after British forces defeat American militiamen at Baldensburg, Maryland, they march completely unopposed into Washington D.C. Fortunately, most of the congressmen, officials, and the President himself had already evacuated the city. The President's wife, Dolly Madison had stayed behind and barely escaped just as the British arrived. (But that's a story for another time, perhaps next month!)
While the British troops ransacked every building in the city, British Admiral Cockburn and his officers dined at the White House at a table already set by Dolly for her husband. There, they mocked President Madison with a toast to his health as they indulged in a meal meant for him. Meanwhile he ordered the city burned to the ground in retaliation, some say, for the Americans burning down Canadian government buildings earlier in the war. The White House, a number of Federal buildings and several private homes were destroyed. The uncompleted Capitol building was also burned and the House or Representatives and Library of Congress were gutted.
The next day as the British troops went about destroying more of the city, a massive storm struck. Darkness fell upon the city, along with heavy rain and strong winds that tore off roofs. An eye witness reports
"The darkness was so great as if the sun had long set and the last remains of twilight had come on, occasionally relieved by flashes of vivid lightning streaming through it, which together, with the noise of the wind and thunder, the crash of falling buildings and the tearing of roofs as they were stript from the walls, produced the most appalling effect I ever have, and probably ever shall witness."
The storm lasted for two hours and killed thirty British troops who where buried beneath the ruins. General Ross ordered a retreat and the troops returned to their ships, many of which were badly damaged. Some say the storm saved Washington D.C. from being occupied, and thus saved the war, which America eventually won! But, I've run out of time for now.
A Christy Award finalist and winner of two Inspirational Readers’ Choice awards, MaryLu Tyndall dreamt of tall ships and swashbuckling heroes during her childhood years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Her books are filled with adventure and romance and themes that are guaranteed to touch your heart! She continues to pen her romantic tales on the California coast while managing a home, husband, little scalawag grandkids, and several stray cats who have decided that her keyboard is the best place to sleep! She believes that without popcorn and chocolate, life would not be worth living, and her sole motivation in life is to bring others closer to God.
MaryLu's Romance books set during the War of 1812!
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