Skip to comments.D.C.ís darkest day, a war that no one remembers
Posted on 08/24/2014 8:55:41 AM PDT by Pharmboy
On Aug. 24, 1814, the British started a fire and ultimately kindled a capitals future.
The day began like so many days in Washington, with a painfully long meeting marked by confusion, misinformation and indecision.
The British were coming. They were on the march in the general direction of Washington. The precise target of the invaders remained unclear, but their intentions were surely malign.
James Madison, the fourth president of these young United States, had raced to a private home near the Navy Yard for an emergency war council with top generals and members of his Cabinet. The secretary of war, John Armstrong conspicuously late for the meeting had argued in recent days that the British would not possibly attack Washington, because it was too unimportant, with just 8,000 inhabitants and a few grandiose government buildings scattered at a great distance from one another.
They certainly will not come here. What the devil will they do here? No! No! Baltimore is the place, sir. That is of so much more consequence, Armstrong had declared.
The British had landed five days earlier near the head of navigable waters on the Patuxent River, southeast of Washington. There were about 4,500 of them hardened fighters fresh from the Napoleonic wars.
The American forces called out to meet the invaders and defend the capital numbered about 5,500, but most were local militia farmers and tradesmen with minimal training.
snip...the Enemy was most definitely headed straight for Bladensburg, a town just six miles northeast of the Capitol. This provoked a convulsion of activity. Generals prepared to dash to the field of battle. Madison decided he should go, too. Someone handed him two pistols that he strapped around his waist.
The gunslinging 5-foot-4-inch president galloped on the pike toward Bladensburg.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I posted this because it has some great stuff in it and the 1812 dust up has been called the Second American Revolution.
And finally, just the word picture of 5'4" President Madison strapping two flintlock pistols on and riding off to meet the enemy was too good not to share.
Really DC’s darkest day was Jan 20, 2009.
Did Sec. Hagel have a grandfather named Armstrong?
You make a good point.
Not surprised that the Washington Post fails to tell their readers about the act of God that drove the invaders from the city.
weren’t people shorter in those days generally?
I am proudly sharing a website my teen son (homeschooled) created as his end of term 10th grade American history project. He had to choose en event that changed the history of America and he chose the Battle of Ft McHenry and the writing of the SSB. We both learned a lot about the War of 1812. He was especially fascinated with how the Brits ate the President’s dinner before they burned the White House
Now THAT’S funny.
It is interesting that another severe storm struck Baltimore during the British siege of Ft McHenry
Yes they were...perhaps 3-4 inches shorter on average. General Washington, at 6’ 2.5” towered above all.
I thought “the Dawn’s Early Light” by Walter Lord was pretty good at telling what a close call young America had.
PBS recently ran an overview of the War of 1812, calling it “America’s first invasion”. It was an interesting program and told me a few things I hadn’t known. I DVR’d it and intend to watch it again.
5'4" and 100 lbs.! But Dolly stayed at the WH saving documents and Geo. Washington's portrait. She was the last to leave.
Not all of them. Washington was over 6' tall. Madison was the shortest President, but also the brainiest.
Enjoyable reading! Thanks for posting it.
Jefferson was also about 6’2” and I have read that his father was very large and powerful.
Read a comtemporary British Revolution era writer commenting on the over-mountain men in the southern colonies and how many were six footers. I reckon they ate a high protein/meat diet.
I scanned the article and saw no mention of the hurricane. I think that even Wikipedia includes the hurricane.