Essay on The War Of 1812

Submitted By egger1990
Words: 1098
Pages: 5

A City in Flames
Chelsea Egger

Hum2234
Paper 2
6/24/12
Professor Lippitt
The War of 1812 (1812-1815) was a conflict between the United States and Great Britain. It resulted from violations of U.S. Maritime Rights due to constant conflict between Great Britain and France. It is commonly known as the second war for American independence, with the Revolutionary War being the first. Although many battles were fought, one key occurrence significantly affected Americans. The events that took place on August 14, 1814 would provide some of the most unforgettable moments from the war dubbed the “Forgotten War”. (“History Channel”)
On the same day, August 14, 1814, previous to the destruction of the city, a significant battle between the British and Americans ensued. The Battle of Bladensburg took place only a few miles away from the city in Bladensburg, Maryland. (“Eye Witness to History”) The British efficiently over ran the American militia, thus making General Winder (1775-1824) order the retreat of the American troops. (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”) One of the American defenders on the third line, Charles Ball (1780-?), recalls, “If the militia regimens could have been brought to charge the British, we should’ve killed or taken the whole of them in short time, but the militia ran like sheep chased by dogs.” This moment later became known as the Bladensburg Races. (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”) President Madison (1751-1836), present at the battle, took command while there; however, he removed himself from harm’s way soon after the defeat of the third line. (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”) According to History, Madison, was “the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief”. Word of defeat quickly reached the nation’s capital; most government officials along with residents fled. The last to vacate was President Madison’s wife, Dolley Madison (1768-1849). She stayed behind and calmly collected some important belongings before leaving, including a George Washington (1732-1799) portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), the original draft of the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Her reasoning was that these things had to be protected for future generations. (“visitmaryland.org”) The British army, under the command of General Robert Ross (1766-1814), proceeded towards Washington D.C. The goal was to capture the city. (“History Channel”)It was never anticipated that it would be so effortless for the British army to capture the capital of the United States. (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”)
In retaliation for burning the Canadian parliament at York earlier during the war, British troops prepared to set fire to Washington’s government buildings. (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”) They also hoped that the burning and destruction of the nation’s capital would invoke a negative emotional response from the people and take away their will to keep fighting. (Eye Witness to History)
Once the British reached the city they began their destruction, as planned. One of the primary targets was President Madison’s home, the Executive Mansion. Upon entering the vacated home, the British found that the dining area was set; they decided to feast on the prepared food and wine. (“White House Historical Association”) After enjoying a meal which had been prepared for President Madison and sarcastically making a toast to “Jimmy’s” health, the men set the house which had satisfactorily entertained them on fire. (“White House Historical Association”), (“First Invasion: The War of 1812”) The Executive Mansion was not the first to be destroyed; however, the then unfinished United States Capitol had already been torched. A resident who watched as the British set fire to the capitol stated, “No drying room was ever as brilliantly lit as the whole city that night; as flames burst through the roof of the capitol there was a roll of thunder.” (“First Invasion: The…