The Burning of Washington, 1814

After the burning of the Capitol Building

198 years ago, after the American defeat at the Battle of Bladensburg, Major General Robert Ross and his British troops set their eyes on the US Capital, Washington, D.C.

Upon hearing of the retreat of American forces in the battle, residents of Washington, D.C. fled their houses and headed to the woods.  During the evacuation, government workers tried to save important documents and files, while at the White House, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings saved Gilbert Stuart’s iconic Lansdowne portrait of George Washington.

When the British troops entered the city, Washington, D.C. was largely deserted. Setting their sites on the Navy Yard, the British troops burnt it down.  They then followed suit, by burning down the U.S. Capitol Building and then  down Pennsylvania Avenue to burn down the White House.

In When Washington Burned: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, author Arnold Blumberg relays the whole story of the War of 1812, from the start of the War to the Battle of New Orleans.  In his new book, Blumberg recounts the reactions from people who witnessed the burning of the White House.

“The spectators stood in awful silence, the city was alight and the heaven reddened with the blaze.” (p. 155)

‘Dr. James Ewell also commented on the President’s house burning, horrified by the flames that burst through the windows, “and mounting far above its summits, with a noise like thunder, filled all the saddened night with gloom.”‘ (p.155)

When Washington Burned is scheduled to release soon. This beautiful new full-color work describes the battles that ranged from the wilderness to our coastlines to the high seas.  Pre-order your own copy here.


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