War of 1812 - Attack on Washington, D.C.

During the summer of 1814, American forces were battling against British invaders.  It was the "War of 1812," and the U.S. capital was in trouble. 

According to the Library of Congress:

At about 8 p.m. on the evening of August 24, 1814, British troops under the command of General Robert Ross marched into Washington, D.C., after routing hastily assembled American forces at Bladensburg, Maryland, earlier in the day.

Encountering neither resistance nor any United States government officials--President Madison and his cabinet had fled to safety--the British quickly torched the White House, the Capitol, which then housed the Library of Congress, the navy yard, and several American warships. However, most private property was left untouched.

In 1815 Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library to replace the one lost in the fire.

This British-made illustration, which is now maintained at U.S. the Library of Congress, depicts the events. The Library's curators provide a title and summary of the original wood engraving:

The taking of the city of Washington in America

Print shows a view from the Potomac River, of Washington, D.C. under attack by British forces under Major General Ross, August 24, 1814.

Click on the picture for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Aug 20, 2018

Media Credits

Image online, Library of Congress.

Information and quote, American Treasures of the Library of Congress.


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