This is a continuation of what we offered a couple of days ago – about the British entering Washington City and burning it in retaliation for the American depredations in York (the capital of Upper Canada then). You will (I hope) recall that Admiral Cockburn dined at the President’s Mansion, then, while his troops burned the capitol, treasury, and library of Congress, he torched what would late be called the White House. The British troops remained in Washington, continuing their work throughout the night. Fires burned across the city, lighting the skyline.
The following day, 26 August, a ferocious storm – some accounts reported it as a hurricane – brought huge winds and heavy rains which put out the fires and, in one case, actually knocked down a building, killing a number of British soldiers taking shelter inside. Having accomplished what they set out to do, the British left the city later that day and returned unopposed (there was nobody to oppose them! Remember the Bladensburg Races?) to Benedict where they arrived on 30 August to re-embark on their ships. Of course, Adm. Cockburn and his boss, Admiral Cochrane, sent a fast ship straightaway to England with news of their glorious success in the American capital.
When word reached England of the success enjoyed by Cockburn and Ross, the people rejoiced, celebrating the superiority of the English troops, the embarrassment of the Americans, and the retaliation for the depredations brought by American troops on Canadian soil the year before. General Ross was officially commended for his brilliant Chesapeake Campaign and, in celebration of the as-yet-unfinished campaign (they planned to accomplish the same thing in Baltimore), the guns in the Tower of London were fired at noon on three successive days. It would be premature, as it turned out.
“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat!” - John Paul Sartre
Fair Winds! Old Salt