Royal Navy ships under Admiral Alexander Cochrane, involved with ravishing the Chesapeake Bay area (for the second time) sailed up the Patuxent River to Marlboro MD and then, in true British style, "quick marched" toward Washington DC. Each Royal Marine and sailor carried, in addition to their own weapons and packs, a twelve pound cannonball for the artillery they also dragged. While Adm. Cochrane remained on his flagship, his second in command, Admiral George Cockburn (pronounced "co-burn" - it's Scottish) and his Army counterpart, Gen'l Robert Ross, led their combined force through the blistering August heat. As a matter of interest, they lost more men from heat prostration than from enemy action! And action they had at Bladensburg, where they had to cross a bridge in order to carry on to the nation's capital.
With the knowledge that the British forces would be coming that way, militia and regular federal troops were arrayed in the hills and trees on the Washington side of the river. Included in the American force were Commodore Joshua Barney's men -sailors and US Marines - from his gunboat fleet. He had scuttled his ships on the orders of the Defense Secretary to help with the upcoming fight. At the end of the day, after the militia and regular federal troops ran away in the face of British fire, Barney's Marines were the only ones left to defend the bridge. The newspapers of the time referred to the American disaster as the "Bladensburg Races."
Unfortunately, their teamsters driving the wagons with the shot and powder also ran away and the commodore got himself wounded. He told his men to head for Washington to see if they could be of help there. And the British, after four attempts, got across the bridge on continued on, unhindered, to the capital.
|Commodore Barney is wounded, and captured by Gen'l Ross (in red)|
|Adm Cockburn in front of burning Washington|
|The President's Mansion aflame|
As a matter of interest, it was the only time our capital has been occupied by an enemy force since the American Revolution!
So, on that note, until next time, I wish you all