The Burning of Washington

November 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm 2 comments

Early Battles

The year of 1812 spawned yet another war between America and Great Britain. This conflict was started by the motivations to preserve America’s trade rights, as well as the fact that England was forcing American seamen into their navy. In the earlier years of the War of 1812, the Americans fought for Northern Territory against the British ships throughout the Great Lakes. The American warships had won numerous battles at sea, however, they suffered the burning of Washington D.C. in 1814.

British Soldiers on their way to D.C.

On August 14, 1814, British ships sailed for America’s third largest city, Baltimore. Lead by General Ross, they also sought to attack Washington D.C. The British wanted revenge for the U.S. Soldiers attacking and destroying the Upper Capital of Canada. When they got to the Chesapeake Bay, their surprise attack on the American proved successful thus forcing the federal soldiers into retreat. The British moved forward and made their way to Washington D.C. arriving on August 24.

Residents of Washington

Many of the Federalists in Washington were ready for the British coming (no thanks to Paul Revere) and had gathered important documents and fled the city. James Madison’s wife, Dolley Madison, saved a portrait of George Washington by removing it from its frame. By the time the British arrived at Washington, the city was deserted.

The Burning

The British first started off the attack by burning the navy grounds. When they arrived at the unfinished U.S. Capital, (no joke) some of the officers had doubts of burning the place because of its impressive architecture. As the troops got to the President’s Mansion, (Not yet known as The White House) they picked up various souvenirs, including James Madison’s hat, and helped themselves to an unfinished dinner. They then went onto the front lawn and threw torches through the house’s windows and began burning the mansion.

Impact on the American People

The Britain’s plan to defeat the Americans by burning their capital had in fact back fired. Many more Americans became inspired to fight for their land and thus joined the military. This also influenced the decision to rebuild the capitol in the northern part of the U.S. where it would have better defense.

Washington Rebuilt

Once the War had ended in 1815, the original White House architect, James Hoban, supervised the reconstruction so it would be an exact replica of what it was prior to the burning. The reconstruction of the White House took three years to complete, thus James and Dolley Madison never returned to the mansion before his term ended. Many parts of the decoration were re-used, even though they still had burn marks on them from the fire.

In my opinion, considering all that had happened, I think that the burning of Washington actually was beneficial. As I mentioned earlier, it influenced many Americans to join the military, as well as the event caused the writing of the national anthem. Francis Scott Key went back to Baltimore to rescue his friend, and he could see the battle at Fort McHenry. When the British were making their way to Washington, Key could see through the flames and bombs that the our flag still stood, thus he wrote the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner” which eventually became the national anthem. The Burning of Washington is another event that presents how God can use tragedies for our benefit.






And the book


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Washington was burned to the ground Burning of Washington DC

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. vebramos  |  November 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I still cant believe that the star spangled banner was written, on a ship, by a prisoner and a lawyer no doubt. very patriotic.

  • 2. dwood07022013  |  November 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    The fact that the British soldiers did things like taking souvenirs from the White House shows their disrespect for America.


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