On this July 4th, thank “climate disruption” for saving the USA in 1814

The President's House.

The White House ruins after the conflagration of August 24, 1814. Watercolor by George Munger, displayed at the White House - Image via Wikipedia - click on the image to find out what the s-shape is.

This is a little known story about how a tornado saved the United States from the British in the War of 1812 as they started to burn Washington, DC. Just having come from there for ICCC6, and this being Independence Day, I thought this story would be appropriate. Back then, they called it an “act of God”, if it happened today, we’d have the alarmosphere squawking that it was “climate disruption” caused by CO2. Enjoy the story – Anthony

The Tornado and the Burning of Washington, August 25, 1814

This is an excerpt from the book Washington Weather

During the summer of 1814, British warships sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and headed towards Washington. The warships sailed up the Patuxent River and anchored at Benedict, Maryland on August 19,1814. Over 4,500 British soldiers landed and marched towards Washington. The British mission was to capture Washington and seek revenge for the burning of their British Capitol in Canada, for which they held the United States responsible. A force of 7,000 Americans was hastily assembled near the Potomac River to defend Washington. During the afternoon of August 24, in 100°F heat, the two armies clashed.

The British Army quickly routed the less disciplined American volunteers, mostly due to a series of American blunders and a new British rocket that did little damage, but unnerved the raw American troops with a very loud, shrill noise. President Madison and Secretary of State Monroe, who had led a group of officials to watch the battle, were almost captured in the confusion. It was noted that the 100°F temperatures added to everyone’s discomfort.

After the battle, the British Army marched quickly into Washington while American soldiers, United States government officials, and residents fled the city. There were no officials left in Washington from whom the British could seek terms of surrender. The British admiral ate dinner in the White House, then gave the order to set fire to Washington. Within hours, the White House, the Capitol, and many other public buildings and residences were burning.

On the morning of August 25, Washington was still burning. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the British soldiers continued to set fires and destroy ammunition supplies and defenses around the city. As the soldiers spread fire and destruction throughout the city, the early afternoon sky began to darken and lightning and thunder signaled the approach of a thunderstorm. As the storm neared the city, the winds began to increase dramatically and then built into a “frightening roar.” A severe thunderstorm was bearing down on Washington, and with it was a tornado.

The tornado tore through the center of Washington and directly into the British occupation. Buildings were lifted off of their foundations and dashed to bits. Other buildings were blown down or lost their roofs. Feather beds were sucked out of homes and scattered about. Trees were uprooted, fences were blown down, and the heavy chain bridge across the Potomac River was buckled and rendered useless. A few British cannons were picked up by the winds and thrown through the air. The collapsing buildings and flying debris killed several British soldiers. Many of the soldiers did not have time to take cover from the winds and they laid face down in the streets. One account describes how a British officer on horseback did not dismount and the winds slammed both horse and rider violently to the ground.

The winds subsided quickly, but the rain fell in torrents for two hours. (There may have been a second thunderstorm that followed quickly after the first thunderstorm.)  Fortunately, the heavy rain quenched most of the flames and prevented Washington from continuing to burn. After the storm, the British Army regrouped on Capitol Hill, still a bit shaken by the harsh weather.

They decided to leave the city that evening. As the British troops were preparing to leave, a conversation was noted between the British Admiral and a Washington lady regarding the storm:  The admiral exclaimed, “Great God, Madam! Is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?” The lady answered, “No, Sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from our city.” The admiral replied, “Not so Madam. It is rather to aid your enemies in the destruction of your city.”

The United States Capitol after the burning of...

The United States Capitol after the burning of Washington, D.C. in the War of 1812. Watercolor and ink depiction from 1814, restored. Image via Wikipedia

Hours later, the British forces left Washington and returned to their ships on the Patuxent River. The journey back was made difficult by the numerous downed trees that lay across the roads. The war ships that lay waiting for the British force had also encountered the fierce storm. Wind and waves had lashed at the ships and many had damaged riggings. Two vessels had broken free from their moorings and were blown ashore.

President Madison and other government officials returned to Washington and began the difficult process of setting up government in a city devastated by fire and wind. Never again would the British Army return to the city, and only rarely would Washington suffer damaging tornadoes.

===============================================================

The 26 hour occupation of Washington DC

I found this short description on Wikipedia interesting:

Less than a day after the attack began, a sudden tornado passed through part of the city, killing British troops and American civilians alike, tossing cannons, and putting out most of the fires.This forced the British troops to return to their ships, many of which were badly damaged by the storm, and so the actual occupation of Washington lasted about 26 hours.

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71 Responses to On this July 4th, thank “climate disruption” for saving the USA in 1814

  1. Phil's Dad says:

    Just a family disagreement. Seems the previous generation put a stop to it.

  2. Frank K. says:

    “It was noted that the 100°F temperatures added to everyone’s discomfort.”

    Whoa…hold on!! How could this be? 100°F?? Everyone knows that the Earth was cold in the 19th century before we started burning fossil fuels!

    /cagw

  3. Bill Marsh says:

    Semper Fi, do or die, …

  4. Jared says:

    It was 100 degrees back then, but now due to horrible man it would be 100.6 degrees. The travesty.

  5. Hoser says:

    Years ago, I’d heard it was a hurricane. The event possibly was known as the “Hurricane of Providence”. I have not found a second reference to confirm the name. Apparently, the hurricane spawned a tornado.
    http://symonsez.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/hurricane-of-providence-saved-washington-dc-and-perhaps-the-nation/
    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Burning_of_Washington

  6. That was the day the ORIGINAL 13th Amendment was delivered to the Library of Congress.
    The just-ratifed (by NH) Amendment banned members of the BAR from serving in Congress and, the British were attempting to destroy all records of it.

    America, look at Washington, DC… what is the percentage of attorneys to non-attorneys… hmmm.

  7. 100*F, or 100*C?
    LOL

    Let’s see: East Coast of the USA, in July, 100*F and probably 95% humidity – if I remember correctly. NORMAL!

  8. Brian H says:

    Frank K. says:
    July 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    “It was noted that the 100°F temperatures added to everyone’s discomfort.”

    Whoa…hold on!! How could this be? 100°F?? Everyone knows that the Earth was cold in the 19th century before we started burning fossil fuels!

    /cagw

    Severe weather (and variability) and storms are much worse in cold global conditions, due to the increased steepness of the temp. gradients tropics-poles. The ‘meeting line’ between cold and warm air masses also moves further south.

  9. rbateman says:

    Frank K. says:
    July 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Just because the climate turned cold does not mean you cannot have hot weather.
    I believe David Archibald and others have covered this point. In a cold climate, you have regular weather plus brutally cold weather. The really bad winters hit randomly, and often bunch up in 2 to 3 year onslaughts. That’s a climactic warning shot across the bow: Do not be fooled by one hot summer in an otherwise cold climate. The past 3 winters should suffice to drive home where the climate is heading. It drove the British out in 1814, and it hit the US this year, as the southerly bounds of cold air clashed with Gulf air. 2 years later, 1816, we all know what that was called. Does history repeat itself? Ask Joe Bastardi. He knows this stuff.

  10. “Many of the soldiers … laid face down in the streets.” The past tense of the intransitive verb to lie is lay, not laid.

  11. Jeff Brodhead says:
    July 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm
    100*F, or 100*C?
    LOL

    Let’s see: East Coast of the USA, in July, 100*F and probably 95% humidity – if I remember correctly. NORMAL!

    ==========================

    Yes, Jeff, except your humidity number for our summers here is off by an order of magnitude.

    It is usually about 950%.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  12. polistra says:

    Interesting! But the idea that the tornado stopped the Brits doesn’t really hold water.

    Basically the Brits had burned everything that would burn, and then the tornado came along and destroyed several things that wouldn’t burn. It didn’t stop the Brits, it picked up where they left off!

  13. Ric Werme says:

    Jared says:
    July 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    > It was 100 degrees back then, but now due to horrible man it would be 100.6 degrees. The travesty.

    GISS probably corrects it to 96.6°F.

  14. Doug in Seattle says:

    I too had heard this was a hurricane rather than a tornado.

  15. vigilantfish says:

    “The British mission was to capture Washington and seek revenge for the burning of their British Capitol in Canada, for which they held the United States responsible.

    ———

    A strange turn of phrase. I’m American-born, and now also a Canadian citizen, living in the once-capital of Upper Canada, then known as York, but now called Toronto. There is no question that this city was burned and looted by American forces in 1813 – including private residences and private property, which was the grounds upon which the British government authorized the retaliatory attack. Unfortunately there were casualties on both sides, but the incident does add some much-needed excitement to Canadian history.

    The British-built Fort York near Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto today is a museum well worth visiting, and summer visitors are much less likely to encounter crippling 100 degree F temperatures (which is, incidentally, generally the temperature range I’ve experienced during my visits to beautiful Washington). Tornadoes may be about as common here as in Washington. I’m glad the two nations have largely overcome their differences since then, but saddened by the post-9/11 need for heightened security at the Canada-US borders.

  16. u.k.(us) says:

    David Thomasq says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm
    “Many of the soldiers … laid face down in the streets.” The past tense of the intransitive verb to lie is lay, not laid.
    =========
    Is this all you took away from this post? :)

  17. Hoser says:

    David Thomasq says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    “Many of the soldiers … laid face down in the streets.” The past tense of the intransitive verb to lie is lay, not laid.

    However, it is correct to say politicians in Washington, D.C., lied down in the street.

  18. Michael says:

    After all we’ve been through, we finally have “Global Cooling”
    Here’s proof;
    China Coal Consumption Linked To Global Cooling
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/04/global-warming-china-air-pollution_n_889897.html#comments

  19. Ed Dahlgren says:

    [blockquote]vigilantfish says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Unfortunately there were casualties on both sides {of the Battle of York}….[/blockquote]

    Including the death of U.S. Brigadier General Zebulon Pike (Jr.), leader in 1806 – 1807 of what is now considered an espionage mission into northern Mexico (now southern Colorado and New Mexico) and the man after whom Pikes Peak was named.

    – Ed

  20. Ed Dahlgren says:

    vigilantfish says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Unfortunately there were casualties on both sides {of the Battle of York}….

    Including the death of U.S. Brigadier General Zebulon Pike (Jr.), leader in 1806 – 1807 of what is now considered an espionage mission into northern Mexico (now southern Colorado and New Mexico) and the man after whom Pikes Peak was named.

    – Ed

  21. AlanG says:

    I remember sitting in the senate public gallery some years ago listening to the tour guide talking about the fire. The audience seethed with indignation. There was no mention of the burning of Toronto of course. Nowadays we Brits would probably be cheered. Tea (party) anyone? Anyway, Washington was only a village then. Still is, populated by village idiots.

  22. rbateman says:

    polistra says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    The British General was just as horrified by the climate catastrophe as today’s alarmists are hyping up things that we already know happen.
    Imagine, though, 197 years ago, 100 degree heat in Washington DC, no pavement, tarmacs or parking lots, and the soldiers are fighting and BURNING. No, it wasn’t the heat and smoke and raging fires that got to the General, it was the storm coming out of nowhere that flung thier canon and made the soldiers hit the dirt, plus the damaged fleet.
    The poor General experienced something the Brits were totally oblivious to. He didn’t freak out, though, but he had enough sense to beat feet.
    Point is, if something in the weather were to happen tomorrow that had not been documented before, the headlines would be Run For Your Lives…It’s Global Warming.

  23. James Evans says:

    Standing outside the Whitehouse a number of years ago, I made a joke about the building being burned down in 1814. My two friends, noticing the men in black on the roof, quietly moved to one side. I thought at the time that this illustrated how the events of 1814 are an issue which clearly still has the ability to divide us – if only between those with good enough eyesight to spot the snipers on the roof, and those without.

  24. Martin Brumby says:

    Well, that’s what you get from burning a load of stuff.

    Produces lots of that dreadful pollutant CO2, you know.

    It is scientifically proven that CO2 causes lightening / thunder / frightening roars / tornados / winds / rain in torrents / buckling bridges / loose cannon / flying feather beds and broken rigging.

    That’s why we have to “decarbonise the economy”. NOW!

    \sarc.

  25. Perry says:

    It would appear from the description that a Divine Wind saved the USA, in a similar manner to the Kamikaze typhoons that rescued the Japanese from Kublai Khan’s troops.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamikaze_%28typhoon%29

    In its way, the Washington tornado event was as portentious as the moment King Harold II removed his helmet to mop his brow during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 & copped a Norman arrow in his eye.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_hastings

    By such small incidents are the fates of nations determined.

  26. I note that on this page with this story is an ad by Google for the very sceptic AGW group, I think not, the Woodland Trust.

  27. jason says:

    Let’s remember a lot of us who read WUWT are British Anthony. We would perhaps suggest Washington got what it deserved as its soldiers burnt Toronto and was a rebelling colony.

  28. AlanG says: July 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Nowadays we Brits would probably be cheered. Tea (party) anyone? Anyway, Washington was only a village then. Still is, populated by village idiots.

    I was surprised when I looked at the trigger point for the US war of independence to find that is seems to stem from a series of jury trials in which US juries asserted their right not to convict under what they saw as unjust English laws. The result was that there was an attempt to move trials to England … bypassing the proper exercise of justice through jury trial in the US.

    Compared to this, the Boston tea party was merely a side show … the equivalent of a student prank.

    The other interesting thing is that whereas the US was effectively founded on the right of a jury to ignore the law and follow their conscience, the modern “MONARCHY/OLIGARCHY” in washington (President/politicians & judges) now try to pretend that there is no right of the ordinary citizen on a jury to refuse to convict under unjust laws.

  29. Rhoda Ramirez says:

    Jasons, while I agree that the invasion of Canada at the beginning of the War of 1812 was probably unwise, we were NOT a colony of anyone’s, and especially not England’s, at that point!

  30. Doubting Thomas says:

    Great comments folks. “The closer I get to being history, the more I enjoy it.”

    It could have been a firestorm. The lifting action of a fire can suction in moist air from the surrounding area, resulting in serious weather.

    We had amazing pyrocumulus clouds here in southern California in our last major wildfire, they looked like mushroom clouds from a nuclear explosion. It’s a slightly different phenomena, hydrogen in the brush (composed of natural hydrocarbons) combine with oxygen (from the air) to make H2O, which condenses to make clouds.

    dT

  31. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    It’s fascinating to think what would have happened had we turned a different corner.

    If Britain hadn’t of lost (what is now the US), obviously world events – and the world now – would be vastly different. The First World War would probably still of happened (given the events that led up to it), but I don’t think WWII would have. If we had held on to the US then Britain’s empire may well have been far too strong for Hitler to even contemplate his disasterous campaign. Our attempt at appeasment would never had been made anyway, and Germany would have been threatened with annhilation, so the ‘war’ would have started earlier than 1939. WWII shaped the entire world into what it is now, so even we, writing here, wouldn’t now be doing so!

    Fascinating.

  32. Blade says:

    Anthony, thanks very much for this post.

    I have somehow managed to live an entire lifetime without ever hearing about the hurricane and tornado that I can recall. Then, a couple of years ago there was a multi-part special on the War of 1812 aired on the History Channel (uggh! but this was very well done). It gets re-aired from time-to-time and is well worth the effort to watch.

    There was definite mention of the hurricane and tornado which I would characterize as being described as pivotal. Maybe the episodes are on YouTube, so let’s check … found it!

    First Invasion: The War of 1812
    Parts: 12345678910

    As luck would have it someone has already isolated the part concerning the capitol fire, hurricane and tornado. This URL is skipped to 2:10 into this segment for the specific details …

    One final note, since this is on YouTube, on some of the segments you will find comments from snot-nosed little children in dire need of an *sskicking. For some reason that scene from Unforgiven comes to mind. You know the scene, when Little Bill tears English Bob a new one for bad-mouthing the USA on the Fourth of July ;-)

    Happy Independence Day everyone.

  33. Roger Longstaff says:

    I really must get some specs. At first sight I read this as ” …..the British started to burn Washington, DC, just having come from there for ICCC6

  34. jason says:

    Rhoda, you are correct, I was half awake and thinking of the AWI ! My main point is WUWT is international, so I am uncomfortable with Anthony being so nationalistic at times, let’s stick to climate rather than posting about showing the stars and stripes and bashing the Brits?

  35. R Jones says:

    I thought that although it was a “British” expeditionary force it was the Newfoundland Regiment that set fire to the White House.

  36. Francis White says:

    The White House was blackened by the smoke and to cover the soot and charring they whitewashed it. Which is how it became a white house and maybe how the Government discovered the merits of “white-washing”.

  37. Frank K. says:

    Doug in Seattle says:
    July 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    “I too had heard this was a hurricane rather than a tornado.”

    Whoa! Hold on there!! Everyone knows that hurricanes and tornadoes were virtually non-existent in the 19th century before man started burning fossil fuels!

    /cagw

  38. Caleb says:

    ..“Many of the soldiers … laid face down in the streets.” The past tense of the intransitive verb to lie is lay, not laid.

    American slang: “layed;” “To get screwed.” Usually but not always proceded by the word “got.” There should be a comma after with word “layed.” These soldiers were not the only ones who got screwed in Washington, but usually it isn’t by a tornado.

    Any time yooz guys gotta question ’bout proppa English, juz ask me ‘n’ I’ll set yoo straight.

  39. RockyRoad says:

    See, see? If the British hadn’t torched the city, thereby creating a huge CO2 cell, the rain and tornado (obvious climate disruption products) never would have happened. Obvious cause and effect, ladies and gentlemen.
    /sarc off.

  40. Caleb says:

    RE: Martin Brumby says:
    July 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Got a chuckle out of the addition of “loose cannon” to things-caused-by-global-warming.

    The phrase “loose cannon” came from the cannons on a ship breaking loose during a storm, and rolling around the deck smashing things and sailors. Only in Washington would you have loose cannon on the streets.

  41. Pull My Finger says:

    Interesting note on 4th of July weather. My newspaper in central PA noted the average high on July 4 is 80F. I’ve been alive for 42 July 4ths and there is no way in hell the avg high temp is 80. I don’t recall sitting for fireworks at 9pm thinking, “gee, it’s a little cool tonight”.

    As to Washington in the summer… good call by the founders, no one wants to be in Washington in the summer, especially in pre AC days. A fine way to insure limited federal government.

  42. John Silver says:

    Yeah, but on whose side was this kamikaze?
    Interesting that an American acknowledges that the Americans burned the Canadian capital first.

  43. observa says:

    If Canberra is anything to go by, for a moment there I got all excited thinking the Brits were about to do you all a great and lasting favour. It seems climate change has an awful lot to answer for, even way back then.

  44. I believe that the “hurricane” was a strong front generating thunderstorms and at least one large tornado. Very few hurricanes pass through in just a few hours. It may be that in 1814 all strong storms were referred to as hurricanes. Ed Boyle

  45. Frank K. says:

    By the way…the point of my sarcastic posts above is that if this event had happened in 2011 versus 1814, is there any doubt that the 100 deg F heat and the hurricane/tornado event would both have been attributed to AGW by the MSM and the climate elites?

  46. James Sexton says:

    jason says:
    July 5, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Rhoda, you are correct, I was half awake and thinking of the AWI ! My main point is WUWT is international, so I am uncomfortable with Anthony being so nationalistic at times, let’s stick to climate rather than posting about showing the stars and stripes and bashing the Brits?
    ======================================================================

    Nonsense. It’s history. There isn’t any “bashing” of Brits in this story. It is simply a re-telling of history, something of which this world is in desperate need. Anthony is proud of his nation and heritage. This is something to be encouraged in all cases. It is possible to recollect past events without disparaging, or reflecting upon peoples of current time. In my view, it is impossible to celebrate the birth of this nation without also celebrating the heritage bequeathed to us by our British ancestors, in terms of both lineage and ideas.

    It is interesting to note, one of the greatest of British politicians would note at one time, “If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms never never never!———-The Rt. Hon. William Pitt, The Younger

    But none could express the thought I’m trying to convey as well as Samuel Adams, “We boast of our freedom, and we have your example for it. We talk the language we have always heard you speak.”——— Samuel Adams to his fellow Englishmen across the Atlantic.

    So, we can see, that while we once were adversaries, even then, we weren’t without great considerations towards one another. Even then, while citizens from both sides were giving their life’s blood for their respective country, it was obvious to all, our bonds and kinship are interminable.

    Now, I’ll get back to listening to my favorite Johnny Horton song……………….. ;-)

  47. Richard says:

    And China burning coal is saving the World.

    “Global warming lull down to China’s coal growth” – Richard Black BBC News
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14002264

  48. observa says:

    Mind you, ‘Gaia manifesting itself with a brain and a nervous system’ (according to our esteemed Climate Change Commisioner who knows intimately about such things) apparently works in mysterious ways-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Canberra_bushfires

  49. Ian L. McQueen says:

    I really appreciate WUWT for the variety of topics that it covers. The OT excursions are educational. And so I will add my bit to the comment posted by Scottish Sceptic:
    “I was surprised when I looked at the trigger point for the US war of independence to find that is seems to stem from a series of jury trials in which US juries asserted their right not to convict under what they saw as unjust English laws. The result was that there was an attempt to move trials to England … bypassing the proper exercise of justice through jury trial in the US.”

    came across very interesting information on the origins of the Revolutionary War in a book about 19th century Japanese history (!). The author of the book pointed out that by the 1770s, all the good farm land in the Colonies had been taken (Washington was the biggest landowner, IIRC) and there was none available for the younger generation. The landless set their eyes on the “Indian Lands” that the British were keeping settlers out of (excuse the grammar) in their effort to observe treaties between the British and the Indians to limit European settlement to the 13 Colonies. According to this history writer, the War of Independence was, in effect, based on a future large land grab.
    The fighting between the British and the colonists ended in 1783, but the peace treaty wasn’t signed for two more years because (according once more to my source) the British held out for that length of time for the new U.S. gopvernment to observe the Indian treaties. Eventually they gave up and the colonists were free to invade the Indian lands. And so goes history.

    I would welcome confirmation or contradiction of this fascinating view of U.S. history. As a sidenote, when I visited Monticello some years back I made this observation to the tour guide. She was rather flustered, apparently never having heard this version of American history, but one person in the crowd called out agreement with what I said. (And to their credit, no one else in the crowd booed.)

    IanM

  50. eco-geek says:

    Thesis: If the Americans had actually won the War of Independence then there would be no such thing as Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    Discuss!

  51. R. Shearer says:

    Ed, should’t it be Pike’s Peak then?

    Anyway, shouldn’t we (U.S.) demand reparations? How about granting Windsor Canada (and its famous ballet) to the City of Detroit? /sarc

  52. TomRude says:

    Excellent post, thank you for this history lesson.

  53. Rick says:

    “may be that in 1814 all strong storms were referred to as hurricanes” Correct. Many maritime nations like Britain often called strong winds hurricanes or cyclones. On June 30, 1912 a tornado ripped through Regina Saskatchewan killing 28 people and destroying millions of dollars worth of property. To this day it is referred to as the Regina Cyclone.

  54. papertiger says:

    If the British Army tried that today our Washingtonians would steal their hubcaps.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

  55. Phil. says:

    James Sexton says:
    July 5, 2011 at 7:25 am
    jason says:
    July 5, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Rhoda, you are correct, I was half awake and thinking of the AWI ! My main point is WUWT is international, so I am uncomfortable with Anthony being so nationalistic at times, let’s stick to climate rather than posting about showing the stars and stripes and bashing the Brits?
    ======================================================================

    Nonsense. It’s history. There isn’t any “bashing” of Brits in this story. It is simply a re-telling of history, something of which this world is in desperate need.

    As pointed out by an earlier poster it’s actually a rewriting of history:
    “The British mission was to capture Washington and seek revenge for the burning of their British Capitol in Canada, for which they held the United States responsible.”
    Why so mealymouthed? It should be “for which the United States was responsible.”
    Not to mention that the British were furious about the undisciplined looting by the American troops and the destruction of non-military buildings which was contrary to established behavior.
    The initial sentence by Anthony is wrong however, “how a tornado saved the United States from the British in the War of 1812″, the US wasn’t saved, the British achieved their objective which was retaliation for the American abuses in York. There was no intention to occupy Washington, the British made sure that only the public buildings were destroyed, causing one building to be torn down brick by brick rather than burned to prevent damage to nearby houses.
    The account of the battle is reasonably accurate, known as the ‘Bladenburg Races’, because of how fast the American defenders ran away!

  56. Tom T says:

    My history education is such that I hardly know about the war of 1812. I know about other wars including The Spanish American war, but the war of 1812 was only talked about as if it was just one battle that didn’t amount to anything. I think I ‘m going to have to learn more about it.

  57. RobWansbeck says:

    Following the comment by Ian L. McQueen at 7:53 am, here’s a different perspective from a fading memory.

    The English, and later British, traditionally made their money from trade and not occupation. The Royal Navy protected the shipping with the Marines protecting the ports.

    Parliament had three main reasons for opposing American independence. ( The King may have had other reasons but parliament had a history of removing the Head of State, literally! )

    First, they believed that wealthy landowners should make some contribution to the cost of saving their lands, and possibly their heads, from the French.

    Secondly, they believed that they would be unable to honour agreements they had made with the native inhabitants.

    Thirdly, they would be unable to ban slavery if the colony was given independence.

    During the War of 1812 the British released thousands of slaves and gave them land in the Indies.
    As part of the settlement following the war the Americans demanded, and received, compensation for the loss of their slaves.

  58. geography lady says:

    Being a second generation native Washingtonian, I would agree with the hurricane actually being a severe thunderstorm. We get these storms more often than most think. If it was a hurricane, Baltimore would have experienced it at the same time. Ft. McHenry was under fire during the Washington burning and I have not heard or read of any hurricane while Francis Scott Key was held prisoner on the British ship in the Bay. Baltimore is only 35 miles away. Severe thunderstorms can effect one city but not the other. Also Washington experiences tornadoes often (you just don’t hear much about them–just locally). The bigger tornadoes seem to run along the same paths. The 1814 tornado went also through Takoma Park then. There have been several severe tornadoes that have taken this path, several years (generations) apart. Recently, there was an F4/5 that went through Arlington, skipped over DC (where the Fed Bldgs are) and went through College Park, killing 3 people. In the 1930′s there was a severe tornado that took this similar path.

    For the history buffs, much of the US government went north to a little town called Brookeville. Dolly Madison stayed at a white house, that still stands today. They stayed for a day then went back to DC. Meanwhile, there were things going on in Baltimore……

  59. geography lady says:

    Forgot to add, that all this took place Aug 25-26, 1814. Temperatures in Washington get to be over 90 too often for me.

  60. xenophon says:

    R Shearer is closer to the truth than he seems to realise when he raises the issue of compensation.

    The American troops behaved so badly at Toronto largely because of their disapointment at the behaviour of the Canadians:it was revenge because they fought well and did not welcome their “liberators”.

    The British complained to the US Govt that the destruction of Toronto was a breach of the laws and practices of war , invited them to acknowledge this and to undertake to pay compensation for civilian losses.

    The US Govt failed to agree this , the British threated a reprisal , the threat broght no change and the reprisal was carried out , but in a much more orderly and less destructive manner than the depradations of the Americans at Toronto.

  61. James Sexton says:

    Phil. says:
    July 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    James Sexton says:
    July 5, 2011 at 7:25 am

    As pointed out by an earlier poster it’s actually a rewriting of history:
    “The British mission was to capture Washington and seek revenge for the burning of their British Capitol in Canada, for which they held the United States responsible.”
    Why so mealymouthed? It should be “for which the United States was responsible.”
    Not to mention that the British were furious about the undisciplined looting by the American troops and the destruction of non-military buildings which was contrary to established behavior.
    The initial sentence by Anthony is wrong however, “how a tornado saved the United States from the British in the War of 1812″, the US wasn’t saved, the British achieved their objective which was retaliation for the American abuses in York. There was no intention to occupy Washington, the British made sure that only the public buildings were destroyed, causing one building to be torn down brick by brick rather than burned to prevent damage to nearby houses.
    The account of the battle is reasonably accurate, known as the ‘Bladenburg Races’, because of how fast the American defenders ran away!
    =============================================================
    Oh my, Phil, and I took such pains to write such a conciliatory comment.
    Yes, we Americans do tend to act a bit boorish when sailors are enslaved, aid and comfort is openly given to our enemies, other parties are bribed to engage in war against us and treaties willfully ignored. So, I wonder who ran the fastest? Stansbury’s or Pakenham’s?

  62. Tom T says:

    Caleb: I don’t know why I am wasting my time on this, but the word is “laid” not “layed.”

  63. Tom in South Jersey says:

    Thank you for this fascinating bit of history. I find it most appropriate that the British anchored in Benedict.

  64. Phil's Dad says:

    James Sexton says:
    July 5, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Hear, hear!

    (esp. “Anthony is proud of his nation and heritage. This is something to be encouraged in all cases.”)

    I am a bit embarrassed by those who call themselves British and then show incredibly thin skins. “You started it – no you started it – no you started it.” Folks, it’s over! I know it is only yesterday in terms of British history but we are all one big happy family again.

    James Sexton says:
    July 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    On the other hand you should quit while you’re ahead mate.

  65. Judd says:

    This may be a little off thread but perhaps on this July 4th it may be appropriate. John Adams & Thomas Jefferson were comrades in arms in the early. days of the American revolution but fell into rescentment. Abigail Adams, however, remained in contact with Jefferson. Jefferson was, essentially, the author of the Declaration of Independence which they believed was accepted on 7/4/1776. Adams would become the 2nd president of the new US. Jefferson would follow him as the 3rd. There was a planned gala celebration of the D of I on it’s 50th anniversary on 7/4/1826. Jefferson’s health was failing so he sent the last letter he would ever write. In it he wrote that “the general spread of the light of science has already laid open the palpaple truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on there backs, nor a favored few, booted & spurred ready to ride them legitimatley by the grace of god”. I wonder if he would be turning over, perhaps spinning in his grave if he knew that the ‘light of science’ was being used through AGW to put those saddles again on the backs of mankind. BTW Jefferson lapsed into a coma in the evening of July 3rd. He would awaken and ask if it was the 4th. Informed that it wasn’t he lapsed back into the coma. Sometime after midnite he awoke and asked again if it was the 4th. Informed that it was, he quietly died. John Adams awoke in the early dawn of July 4th that same day in 1826 & his last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives”. The 2nd & 3rd presidents of US both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. We need to know our heritage.

  66. Ed Dahlgren says:

    R. Shearer says:
    July 5, 2011 at 8:15 am
    Ed, should’t it be Pike’s Peak then?

    The mountain has changed names and altitudes a few times in the past 205 years. It used to be “Pike’s Peak,” but the Federal Board for Making Everything Have One Name (part of the USGS, IIRC) had a campaign to exclude punctuation, so “Pikes Peak” it is.

    – Ed

  67. Ed Dahlgren says:

    Phil. says:
    July 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm
    Not to mention that the British were furious about the undisciplined looting by the American troops and the destruction of non-military buildings which was contrary to established behavior.

    And the Americans weren’t real happy that most of their casualties (including General Pike) had been killed or wounded after negotiations for surrender had begun.

    – Ed

  68. AlanG says:

    History really depends on where you sit. Take the Vietnam war. An American history book would talk about defeat. A Vietnamese history about victory. History, you might say, is just one damn thing after another

  69. Many years ago I was on my way down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and on the plane I was reading a book about the War of 1812. The author opined to the effect that he wondered if the British troops found their first continental thunderstorm as frightening as the American troops had found Congreve’s rockets – primitive missiles that caused mayhem on the battlefield. I absolutely scoffed at this as being just typical American exageration. What does the man think? We dont get thunderstorms in England!.

    The first time James Spann came on ABC 33/40 and told us we needed to go to our “place of safety”, NOW! I got the picture!

    jh

  70. James Sexton says:

    Phil’s Dad says:
    July 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    James Sexton says:
    July 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    On the other hand you should quit while you’re ahead mate.
    =================================================================

    lol, Just responding in kind. I firmly believe my prior comment. The latter was just my little dig to the ones with a thin skin. :-)

  71. Robert of Ottawa says:

    As an Englishman and a Canadian I’d like to say “prrrrrrrrr” :-) we won! Hey, we are on the same side now; happy birthday!

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