Washington Burns, in 1814, but Is Saved by a Tornado

This image depicts the "Capture and Burning of Washington," America's capital, "By the British, in 1814."  The event took place on August 25, 1814, during the "War of 1812."

There is a mistake in this artistic depiction of Washington on fire. As curators at the Library of Congress point out:

Inaccurate rendering of U.S. Capitol; there was no center building or pediment in 1814.

Believe it or not, but ... Washington was saved from even-worse destruction by a tornado which struck the city on August 25, 1814. The U.S. National Weather Service tells us about the tornado’s impact:

In the early afternoon, a strong tornado struck northwest Washington D.C. and downtown. The severe tornadic storm arrived the day that the British Troops had set fire to the Capitol, the White house and other public buildings. The storm's rains would douse those fires.

The tornado did major structural damage to the residential section of the city. More British soldiers were killed by the tornado's flying debris than by the guns of the American resistance. The tornado blew off roofs and carried them high up into the air, knocked down chimneys and fences and damaged numerous homes. Some homes were destroyed. It lifted two pieces of cannon and deposited them several yards away.

At least 30 Americans were killed or injured in the heavily damaged buildings and an unknown number of British were killed and injured.

Every now and again, bad weather saves us from an even-worse tragedy. And ... every now and again ... an artist makes a mistake in depicting the scene.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Feb 20, 2020

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress. Public Domain.


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"Washington Burns, in 1814, but Is Saved by a Tornado" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 20, 2020.
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