On this date 199 years ago, the British overran the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg. The 1814 skirmish has been called “the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms.” The British continued to pursue the fleeing Americans (including President James Madison and militia man Frances Scott Key, who later wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”) into Washington, DC, and burned most of the government buildings. Later events in Baltimore and elsewhere saved our bacon, so to speak.
Today, we attended the annual Battle of Bladensburg Encampment; the grounds of Riversdale Mansion were filled with historical interpreters (re-enacters) of British and American soldiers and their wives and children. Great fun: I learned how rosewater is made, how to prime a cannon, and why the Virginia militia did not join in this battle (they’d been sent back to DC to get better weapons). Next year is the milestone 200th anniversary, and big plans are already underway; if you are nearby then, consider a trip to Bladensburg around 14 August.
** Note — Feel free to use these photos; I’d love if you credited me and/or linked back to me if you do. Also, I resized these way down to make loading faster. I can send you the raw files if you want to make yours larger.**