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Batalha de Bladensburg, 24 de agosto de 1814

Batalha de Bladensburg, 24 de agosto de 1814


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Batalha de Bladensburg, 24 de agosto de 1814

A batalha de Bladensburg, em 24 de agosto de 1814, foi uma vitória britânica durante a Guerra de 1812 que deixou Washington vulnerável a ataques. A queda de Napoleão permitiu que os britânicos movessem um número relativamente grande de tropas através do Atlântico. O vice-almirante Sir Alexander Cochrane logo tinha mais de 4.000 homens nas Bermudas, entre eles um contingente de 3.000 homens sob o comando do major-general Robert Ross que havia navegado diretamente do sudoeste da França. Cochrane decidiu usar seu novo exército para apoiar o contra-almirante Sir George Cockburn, que havia passado a primeira parte da campanha de verão naquela área.

Cochrane e Cockburn decidiram atacar uma frota de canhoneiras americanas que se abrigaram no rio Patuxent e, se possível, seguir em frente para atacar Washington. O rio Patuxent corre de norte a sul, a leste de Washington, e era grande o suficiente em 1812 para permitir que os britânicos operassem uma frota de pequenos barcos no rio.

As tropas de Ross pousaram perto da foz do rio Patuxent em 19 de agosto e começaram a marchar rio acima em direção às canhoneiras. Em 22 de agosto, o comandante dessa frota, o Comodoro Barney, destruiu quinze de suas canhoneiras e recuou em direção a Washington, na esperança de defender a estrada que passava por Bladensburg até a capital.

Washington era muito vulnerável a ataques. A maioria dos membros do governo americano acreditava que Baltimore tinha muito mais probabilidade de ser atacada do que Washington e, portanto, a capital não foi fortificada. Na primavera de 1814, isso começou a preocupar alguns membros do governo e, assim, em 2 de julho, um novo Distrito Militar nº 10 foi criado ao redor da cidade. Infelizmente, o General William H. Winder, um Marylander e parente do governador do estado, foi nomeado para comandar o distrito. A experiência militar recente de Winder aconteceu na Frente do Niágara, onde ele foi capturado pelos britânicos na batalha de Stoney Creek após confundir britânicos com tropas americanas. Winder havia sido trocado na primavera de 1814 e era uma nomeação puramente política, feita pelo presidente Madison contra a vontade do Secretário da Guerra.

Em teoria, Winder tinha o comando de 1.000 regulares e 15.000 milícias, mas quando os britânicos desembarcaram ele tinha apenas 1.500-1.600 homens sob seu comando e a maioria deles estava perto de Baltimore. Winder não teve um bom desempenho quando os britânicos se aproximaram de Washington, ele teve uma tarefa difícil. Os britânicos podiam escolher as rotas que poderiam ter tomado a partir do Patuxent. Se Washington fosse o alvo, eles poderiam mover-se para o oeste para atacar o Fort Washington e então subir o Potomac ou o noroeste para Bladensburg, cruzar o rio East Branch e atacar Washington pelo nordeste, ou mesmo mover-se para o norte para atacar Baltimore.

Conseqüentemente, quando os britânicos subiram Patuxent até Upper Marlsborough e depois se moveram em direção a Bladensburg, Winder não agiu. Em 21 de agosto, ele estava a apenas cinco milhas a sudoeste de Upper Marlsborough. No dia seguinte, ele voltou para Old Fields e, em 23 de agosto, retirou-se para Washington. No dia anterior, a população havia começado a abandonar a capital, embora o presidente Madison e seu gabinete permanecessem na cidade, onde participariam da derrota americana.

Apesar da inatividade de Winder, Bladensburg não ficou totalmente indefeso. Os 400 marinheiros de Barney se juntaram a 1.450 milícias locais e 420 regulares, sob o comando do General Tobias Stansbury. Ele havia assumido uma posição defensiva na margem oeste do rio East Branch. O secretário de Estado Monroe chegou ao local na manhã de 24 de agosto e começou a interferir na implantação de Stansbury. Ele foi seguido por mais 5.000 milícias e, finalmente, pelo próprio General Winder, que chegou para assumir o comando pouco antes do ataque britânico.

Os britânicos tinham apenas 2.600 soldados, sob o comando do Major-General Ross, mas todos eram regulares experientes. A posição americana parecia bastante forte, pelo menos para o general Ross. Ele descreveu os americanos como “fortemente posicionados em alturas muito comandantes, formados em duas linhas”, com a artilharia cobrindo a ponte sobre o braço leste.

A principal fraqueza da posição americana era a falta de tropas regulares. Quando os britânicos atacaram pela ponte, a milícia apenas se manteve firme por um curto período de tempo, antes de abandonar o campo. Parte do pânico foi aparentemente causado pelos foguetes Congreve disparados contra suas fileiras. Apenas os marinheiros de Barney resistiram e lutaram, até que foram flanqueados pelos britânicos, momento em que Barney ordenou que eles recuassem. O próprio Barney foi gravemente ferido na luta.

Embora a batalha rapidamente tenha se transformado em uma vitória britânica, não foi sem custos. Os britânicos sofreram 64 mortos e 185 feridos, três vezes as baixas americanas de 26 mortos e 51 feridos. A falta de prisioneiros americanos foi atribuída à velocidade de sua retirada.

A vitória britânica em Bladensburg deixou Washington exposto ao ataque. Madison e seu gabinete foram forçados a fugir para a zona rural circundante, enquanto mais tarde naquele dia os britânicos entraram na cidade. No ano anterior, os americanos capturaram York, a capital do Alto Canadá, e queimaram os edifícios do parlamento e a Casa do Governo. Em retaliação, os britânicos queimaram agora a Casa Branca, o Capitólio, o Tesouro e o Ministério da Guerra e apreenderam grandes quantidades de munições. No dia seguinte, eles começaram a marcha de volta para seus navios.

Livros sobre a guerra de 1812 | Índice de Assunto: Guerra de 1812


Batalha de Bladensburg

A Batalha de Bladensburg, em 24 de agosto de 1814, terminou em derrota para os Estados Unidos e abriu caminho para as tropas britânicas invadirem Washington, DC. © Richard Schlecht

“O inimigo está em plena marcha para Washington. Tenha os materiais para destruir as pontes. ”
- Secretário de Estado James Monroe do Presidente James Madison, 23 de agosto de 1814

À medida que os navios e tropas terrestres britânicos se moviam para o norte a partir do desembarque em Benedict, Maryland, eles mantinham os americanos na dúvida. O alvo seria Baltimore ou Washington?

Quando ficou claro que a força de invasão estava indo para Washington, os americanos tiveram pouco tempo para se preparar. Eles estabeleceram apressadamente três linhas de defesa perto da cidade portuária de Bladensburg, onde os britânicos cruzariam o braço oriental do rio Potomac, conhecido hoje como Anacostia.

As tropas adversárias entraram em confronto a oeste de Bladensburg em 24 de agosto de 1814, em três horas de combates intensos. Embora superior em número, a maioria das forças defensivas americanas eram mal treinadas, mal equipadas e posicionadas de forma que as linhas não pudessem apoiar umas às outras. Eles não eram páreo para o experiente exército britânico.

Os britânicos invadiram a ponte e, após uma tentativa fracassada, cruzaram o rio e empurraram os americanos para trás. A primeira linha defensiva dobrou-se na segunda, e logo a confusão e o pânico varreram as fileiras americanas.

Apenas a terceira linha defensiva fez uma posição heróica. Lá, o Comodoro Joshua Barney, junto com cerca de 400 flotilâmen, 114 fuzileiros navais dos EUA e milicianos, conteve o avanço britânico até que os defensores fossem flanqueados e seu comandante, Barney, ferido.

O presidente James Madison e vários membros do gabinete estavam no campo de batalha naquele dia. Vendo o início de uma derrota americana, eles bateram em retirada apressada para Washington, enviando um recado à primeira-dama Dolley Madison e outros para salvarem todos os bens que pudessem e fugir.

Naquela noite, os vencedores britânicos ocuparam a capital da nação e destruíram a maioria dos edifícios públicos. A derrota em Bladensburg e a ocupação da capital pelo inimigo fizeram de 24 de agosto o dia mais sombrio da guerra para os Estados Unidos.


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A Batalha de Bladensburg (1814)

Em 24 de agosto de 1814, as forças britânicas levantaram acampamento em Melwood Park e se mudaram para o noroeste, para Bladensburg. A milícia de Baltimore, sob o comando do general Tobias Sansbury, foi posicionada a oeste do rio Anacostia ao longo da estrada Bladensburg-Washington na área dos dias atuais Cottage City, Colmar Manor e Fort Lincoln Cemetery. Marchando no calor intenso ao longo da estrada do rio paralela à atual Avenida Kenilworth, os britânicos chegaram a Bladensburg por volta do meio-dia e atacaram os defensores americanos pouco depois.

Quando as forças britânicas lideradas pelo major-general Robert Ross entraram em Bladensburg marchando pela colina Lowndes, os fuzileiros americanos atiraram. No entanto, a infantaria de Ross continuou destemida em direção à ponte sobre o Anacostia, que os americanos mal preparados ainda não haviam destruído. Os homens do general Winder americano desde então se moveram para trás de Stansbury quando brigadas de Annapolis chegaram do leste.

Tomados pelo medo de explodir os foguetes Congreve britânicos e incertos de qualquer apoio da retaguarda de Winder, os americanos correram para a retaguarda da linha de batalha. Aqui, Ross desferiu um golpe esmagador trazendo outro regimento que cruzou o riacho e confrontou um regimento de Baltimore. O resto das forças americanas recuou para a retaguarda, abrindo assim a auto-estrada que leva a Washington para os britânicos. A única resistência veio

quando o Comodoro Barney e seus 500 marinheiros enfrentaram os britânicos.

O Comodoro Barney e seus marinheiros fizeram uma posição heróica em Bladensburg contra todas as adversidades. Mesmo depois de vários milhares de milicianos de apoio terem fugido em face das baionetas britânicas e do fogo, os homens de Barney mantiveram sua posição. Armados com lanças e cutelos, eles lançaram um contra-ataque bem-sucedido contra a infra-estrutura britânica com gritos de "Board'em! Board'em!" Somente quando irremediavelmente cercado, Barney, àquela altura gravemente ferido, ordenou a seus oficiais que desarmassem suas armas e recuassem. Por insistência de seu comandante, eles relutantemente o deixaram deitado ao lado de um de seus canhões para aguardar a captura. Depois de ser capturado pelos britânicos, Barney foi parabenizado por sua bravura e libertado.

Com as forças americanas vencidas e em plena retirada, os britânicos marcharam para a capital do país, Washington, D.C., e saquearam e queimaram partes significativas da cidade, incluindo o Capitólio e a Casa Branca.

Texto com imagem intermediária inferior: Uma ilustração britânica contemporânea que descreve a invasão e o incêndio de Washington, D.C., em agosto de 1814. Cortesia da Biblioteca do Congresso, Divisão de Impressos e Fotografias.

Texto com foto superior direita: O contra-almirante britânico Cockburn juntou forças com o major-general Robert Ross para a Batalha de Bladensburg. Cortesia da

Museu Marítimo Nacional, Londres.

Tópicos e séries. Este marcador histórico está listado nesta lista de tópicos: Guerra de 1812. Além disso, está incluído na lista da série Battlefield Trails - War of 1812. Um ano histórico significativo para esta entrada é 1814.

Localização. 38 & deg 56.15 & # 8242 N, 76 & deg 56.313 & # 8242 W. Marker está em Bladensburg, Maryland, no condado de Prince George. O Marker pode ser alcançado a partir da interseção da Annapolis Road (Maryland Route 450) com a 46th Street. O marcador está no Bladensburg Waterfront Park, 0,2 milhas ao sul da entrada neste cruzamento. Toque para ver o mapa. O marcador está nesta área dos correios: Bladensburg MD 20710, Estados Unidos da América. Toque para obter instruções.

Outros marcadores próximos. Pelo menos 8 outros marcadores estão a uma curta distância deste marcador. Historic Bladensburg Waterfront Park - Port Town History (a uma distância de grito deste marcador) First Unmanned Balloon Ascension (1784) (a uma distância de grito deste marcador) A causa incidental da bandeira star-spangled (1814) (a uma distância de grito deste marcador ) Dinosaur Alley (a uma distância de grito deste marcador) Duelos e os campos de duelo de Bladensburg (a uma distância de grito deste marcador) Acampamento do Exército de Coxey (1894) (cerca de 300 pés de distância, medido em uma linha direta) Colonial Ropemaking (cerca de 400 pés) distância) A Primeira Linha Telegráfica (1844) (cerca de 500 pés de distância). Toque para obter uma lista e um mapa de todos os marcadores em Bladensburg.

Mais sobre este marcador. Outra "Batalha de Bladensburg" está localizada dentro do cemitério de Fort Lincoln, cerca de 1,5 milhas a leste, onde o Comodoro Barney e seus fuzileiros navais fizeram sua "resistência heróica".


Maryland invadido por terra

Em meados de agosto de 1814, os americanos que viviam ao longo da foz da Baía de Chesapeake ficaram surpresos ao ver as velas dos navios de guerra britânicos no horizonte. Já havia algum tempo que havia grupos de invasão atacando alvos americanos, mas essa parecia ser uma força considerável.

Os britânicos desembarcaram em Benedict, Maryland, e começaram a marchar em direção a Washington. Em 24 de agosto de 1814, em Bladensburg, nos arredores de Washington, regulares britânicos, muitos dos quais haviam lutado nas Guerras Napoleônicas na Europa, lutaram contra tropas americanas mal equipadas.

A luta em Bladensburg às vezes foi intensa. Artilheiros navais, lutando em terra e liderados pelo heróico Comodoro Joshua Barney, atrasaram o avanço britânico por um tempo. Mas os americanos não conseguiram segurar. As tropas federais recuaram, junto com observadores do governo, incluindo o presidente James Madison.


Eventos

Para reunir o que Dolley viu ao ver a batalha, estudei várias fontes antigas e detalhadas, depois cortei-as em cubos e coloquei-as em ordem cronológica. Não usei tudo, apenas as partes que considerei úteis.

Mahan = O poder do mar em suas relações com a guerra de 1812, pelo capitão A.T. Mahan. Download.

Perdedor = Livro de campo pictórico da guerra de 1812. Por Benson J. Lossing 1869, cap. 39. Leia online

Gleig = As Campanhas do Exército Britânico em Washington e Nova Orleans, 1814-1815 pelo Rev. G. R. Gleig, M.A., Capelão-Geral. Download.

Antes de 24 de agosto de 1814

Mahan & # 8211 O secretário da Guerra achava que poderia reunir mil regulares, independentemente dos artilheiros nos fortes. [2] O secretário da Marinha poderia fornecer cento e vinte fuzileiros navais e as tripulações da flotilha Barney & # 8217s, estimadas em quinhentos. [2] Para o resto, a dependência deve ser da milícia, uma chamada para a qual foi feita para o número de noventa e três mil e quinhentos. [370] Destes, quinze mil foram atribuídos a Winder, como segue: Da Virgínia, dois mil de Maryland, seis mil da Pensilvânia, cinco mil do Distrito de Columbia, dois mil. [371] Tão ineficazes foram as medidas administrativas para trazer à tona esta força de papel da soldadesca cidadã, cuja eficiência os líderes do partido no poder estavam acostumados a alardear, aquele Winder, após recuar de um ponto a outro diante do inimigo & # O avanço de 8217s, porque só assim se ganharia tempo para reunir os contingentes atrasados, poderia se reunir em campo aberto em Bladensburg, a cinco milhas da capital, onde finalmente se posicionou, apenas os insignificantes cinco ou seis mil declarados pelo Tribunal.

Perda & # 8211 Agora vejamos que forças estavam à disposição do General Winder para a defesa de Washington. Havia duas pequenas brigadas de tropas distritais. Um deles era formado pela milícia e voluntários de Washington e Georgetown, dispostos em dois regimentos sob os coronéis Magruder e Brent, e era comandado pelo general Walter Smith, de Georgetown. Ligadas à brigada estavam duas companhias de artilharia leve, comandadas respectivamente pelo major George Peter, do exército regular, e pelo capitão Benjamin Burch, soldado da Revolução. Havia também duas empresas de rifles comandadas pelos Capitães Doughty e Stull. Esta brigada contava, na manhã do dia 21 de agosto, mil e setenta homens. A segunda brigada era comandada pelo general Robert Young e contava com quinhentos homens. Era composta por uma companhia de artilharia liderada pelo Capitão Marsteller. Foi empregado principalmente na defesa dos acessos ao Fort Washington, cerca de doze milhas abaixo da capital.

O Brigadeiro General West, do Condado de Prince George, tinha tropas de olho no Potomac.

As tropas de Baltimore compreendiam a maior parte da brigada do General Stansbury, formada em dois regimentos sob o comando dos tenentes-coronéis Ragan e Schutz, trezentos e cinquenta em número e o Quinto Regimento, sob o coronel Sterett, com artilharia e fuzileiros já mencionados, este último sob o célebre William Pinkney. Toda a força de Baltimore era de cerca de dois mil e duzentos, comandada pelo general Stansbury como chefe.

Além desses, havia vários destacamentos da milícia de Maryland, sob o comando respectivo dos coronéis W. D. Beall (da Revolução) e Hood, tenente-coronel Kramer e Majors Waring e Maynard - ao todo menos de 1.200. Havia também um regimento da milícia da Virgínia sob o comando do coronel George Minor, seiscentos homens e cem cavalaria.

O exército regular contribuiu com trezentos homens do décimo segundo, trigésimo sexto e trigésimo oitavo regimentos, sob o comando do tenente-coronel William Scott. A estes devem ser adicionados os marinheiros da flotilha de Barney, quatrocentos e cento e vinte fuzileiros navais do estaleiro naval em Washington, equipados com dois navios de 18 libras e três de 12 libras.

Havia também várias pequenas companhias de cavalaria voluntária do Distrito, Maryland e Virgínia, sob o comando do tenente-coronel Tilghman, e os Majors O. H. Williams e Charles Sterett, trezentos em número, e um esquadrão de dragões dos Estados Unidos comandado pelo major Laval. Toda a força era cerca de sete mil homens, dos quais novecentos eram homens alistados. A cavalaria não ultrapassava quatrocentos em número. O pequeno exército tinha vinte e seis peças de canhão, das quais vinte eram de apenas 6 libras. Essa força, se concentrada, teria sido competente para reverter a invasão se o comandante tivesse sido desimpedido pela interferência do presidente e de seu gabinete.

Mahan & # 8211 Barney abandonou os barcos no dia 21, deixando com cada meia dúzia de seus tripulantes para destruí-la no último momento. Isso foi feito quando os britânicos no dia seguinte se aproximaram de um, escapando das chamas.

Perda & # 8211 Carta de 22 de agosto de Monroe para Madison:

& # 8220O inimigo avançou seis milhas na estrada para o Wood Yard, e nossas tropas estão se retirando. Nossas tropas estavam marchando para enfrentá-los, mas em um corpo pequeno demais para lutar. O General Winder propõe se aposentar até que possa reuni-los em um corpo. O inimigo está em plena marcha para Washington. Prepare os materiais para destruir as pontes. J. MONROE. & # 8220P.S. - É melhor você remover os registros. & # 8221

Essa mensagem causou a mais intensa agitação na capital nacional, então uma cidade dispersa de oito a nove mil habitantes, e causou um êxodo repentino e confuso de todos os tímidos e desamparados que puderam partir.

Perda & # 8211 [Os soldados] eram indisciplinados e inexperientes, cercados e influenciados por uma multidão de civis entusiasmados, cujos & # 8220officiosos, mas bem intencionados, informações e conselhos & # 8221 o general foi obrigado a ouvir. Além dessa intrusão e interferência de homens comuns, ele ficava constrangido com a presença e sugestões do presidente e de seus ministros de gabinete, a maioria deles totalmente ignorantes de assuntos militares.

Perda & # 8211 Manhã de 23 de agosto: O pequeno exército cansado em Long Old Fields havia repousado por pouco tempo quando, às duas horas da manhã (23 de agosto), uma sentinela tímida deu um alarme falso e eles foram convocados a se levantar na batalha pedido. Eles logo foram dispensados ​​e dormiram em seus braços até o amanhecer. Ao nascer do sol, eles receberam ordens de atacar suas tendas, carregar os vagões de bagagem e ter tudo pronto para partir em uma hora. Quando tudo estava preparado para marchar, eles foram revisados ​​pelo presidente Madison.

Mahan & # 8211 De Upper Marlborough, onde os britânicos haviam chegado, duas estradas levavam a Washington. Uma delas, a esquerda indo de Marlborough, cruzou o braço oriental perto de sua foz e a outra, menos direta, passou por Bladensburg. Winder esperava que os britânicos avançassem pelo primeiro e sobre ele Barney com os quatrocentos marinheiros restantes para ele se juntaram ao exército, em um lugar chamado Oldfields, a sete milhas da capital. Essa rota era militarmente a mais importante, porque dela se lançavam ramificações para o Potomac, para o qual se dirigia a esquadra da fragata comandada pelo capitão Gordon, e já havia ultrapassado o fundo do Kettle, a parte mais difícil de navegação em seu caminho. As estradas laterais permitiriam aos invasores alcançar e cooperar com essa divisão naval, a menos que Winder pudesse atacá-los. Isso ele não foi capaz de fazer, mas permaneceu quase até o último momento na perplexa incerteza se eles atacariam a capital ou sua principal defesa no Potomac, Fort Washington, dez milhas mais abaixo. [373]

Mahan & # 8211 os britânicos avançaram, como previsto, pela estrada da esquerda e, ao anoitecer de 23 de agosto, estavam acampados a cerca de três milhas dos americanos.

Mahan & # 8211 Winder temia esperar o inimigo, pela desordem a que suas inexperientes tropas estariam expostas por um ataque noturno, causando possivelmente a perda de sua artilharia o único braço em que se sentia superior. Retirou-se portanto durante a noite pela estrada direta, queimando sua ponte. Isso deixou aberto o caminho para Bladensburg, que os britânicos seguiram no dia seguinte & # 8230

Perda & # 8211 A noite do dia 23 de agosto foi marcada por grande agitação na capital nacional. O presidente e seu gabinete não se permitiram dormir, pois Ross, o invasor, estava acampado em Melwood, perto de Long Old Fields, a cerca de dez milhas da cidade, e as tropas de Winder, exaustos e desanimados, eram fugitivos antes dele. Os cavaleiros de Laval estavam exaustos, e as tropas de Stansbury em Bladensburg estavam muito cansadas com longas marchas para lutar muito sem algum repouso.

Gleig & # 8211 24 de agosto & # 8211 Havíamos agora avançado cerca de 14 quilômetros, durante os últimos quatro dos quais os raios do sol & # 8217s incidiram continuamente sobre nós, e inalamos uma quantidade quase tão grande de poeira quanto de ar. Muitos homens já haviam caído para a retaguarda, e muitos mais conseguiriam acompanhar com dificuldade, conseqüentemente, se avançássemos muito mais sem descansar, as chances eram de que pelo menos metade do exército ficaria para trás.

Perda & # 8211 24 de agosto & # 8211 O quartel-general de Winder ficava em Combs, perto da ponte Eastern Branch, e ao amanhecer o presidente e vários de seus ministros estavam lá. 25 Antes de sua chegada, o General Winder (que estava muito fatigado de corpo e mente e havia sofrido um grave ferimento devido a uma queda durante a noite) enviou uma nota ao Secretário de Guerra, expressando o desejo de obter o conselho daquele oficial e do governo.

Perda & # 8211 Enquanto Winder e o governo estavam em conselho, Ross mudou-se para Bladensburg. Os batedores de Laval primeiro trouxeram informações sobre o fato ao quartel-general. Eles foram logo seguidos por um expresso de Stansbury, dando informação positiva de que os britânicos estavam marchando naquela direção, com a visão, sem dúvida, de esmagar a pequena força de baltimoreanos perto do Moinho Bladensburg.

Mahan & # 8211 24 de agosto & # 8211 Na manhã da batalha, o Secretário da Guerra cavalgou para o campo, com seus colegas na Administração, e em resposta a uma pergunta do presidente disse que não tinha sugestões a oferecer & # 8220, pois era entre regulares e milicianos, estes seriam derrotados. & # 8221 [372] A frase foi a absolvição de Winder & # 8217 pronunciada para o futuro, como para o passado. A responsabilidade de não haver regulares não cabia a ele, nem ainda ao secretário, mas aos homens que durante doze anos minaram a preparação militar da nação.

Perda & # 8211 24 de agosto & # 8211 & # 8230 eram dez horas da manhã quando Winder ordenou ao General W. Smith, com todas as suas tropas, que se apressasse em direção a Bladensburg. Barney foi logo depois ordenado a mover-se com seus quinhentos homens, e o Secretário de Estado, que havia prestado serviço militar na Revolução, foi solicitado pelo presidente e pelo general Winder a se apressar a Stansbury e ajudá-lo a posicionar adequadamente suas tropas. O Sr. Monroe foi imediatamente seguido pelo General Winder e sua equipe. O secretário da Guerra seguiu atrás e por último o presidente e o procurador-geral, acompanhados de alguns amigos, todos a cavalo, cavalgaram em direção ao esperado teatro de batalha. 27 Stansbury parece não ter ficado muito satisfeito com a ajuda do Secretário de Estado, pois ele posteriormente insinuou que & # 8220alguém & # 8221 sem consultá-lo, mudou e perturbou sua ordem de batalha. Esse & # 8220alguém & # 8221 foi o Coronel Monroe & # 8230.

Mahan & # 8211 [Britânico] chegando à aldeia [Bladensburg] por volta do meio-dia do dia 24.

Gleig & # 8211 Aproximava-se a hora do meio-dia, quando uma pesada nuvem de poeira, aparentemente a não mais de três ou cinco quilômetros de distância, atraiu nossa atenção & # 8230. pois, ao virar um ângulo repentino na estrada, e passando por uma pequena plantação, que obstruía a visão para a esquerda, os exércitos britânico e americano tornaram-se visíveis um ao outro. & # 8230 Do outro lado [ramo leste] foi lançada uma ponte estreita, estendendo-se da rua principal daquela cidade até a continuação da estrada, que passava pelo centro de sua posição e sua margem direita (a margem acima da qual foram desenhadas para cima) estava coberta por uma estreita faixa de salgueiros e lariços [pinheiros], enquanto a esquerda estava totalmente nua, baixa e exposta.

Mahan & # 8211 Ao contrário da instrução de Winder & # 8217, o oficial estacionado lá retirou suas tropas do outro lado do riacho, abandonando o local e formando sua linha no topo de algumas colinas na margem oeste.

Implantação de tropa

Mahan & # 8211 A impressão que essa posição causou ao inimigo foi descrita pelo General Ross, da seguinte maneira: & # 8220Eles estavam fortemente postados em alturas muito comandantes, formadas em duas linhas, o avanço ocupando uma casa fortificada, que com artilharia cobriu a ponte sobre o Leste Branch, através do qual as tropas britânicas tiveram que passar. Uma estrada larga e reta, que vai da ponte a Washington, passa pela posição do inimigo & # 8217s, que foi cuidadosamente defendida por artilheiros e fuzileiros. & # 8221 [374]

Mahan & # 8211 A linha americana foi formada antes de Winder chegar ao solo. Ele se estendia pela estrada de Washington, conforme descrito por Ross. Uma bateria no topo da colina comandava a ponte e era apoiada por uma linha de infantaria de cada lado, com uma segunda linha na retaguarda. Temendo, no entanto, que o inimigo pudesse cruzar o riacho mais acima, onde era possível vadear em muitos lugares, um regimento da segunda linha foi relutantemente ordenado a avançar para estender a esquerda e Winder, quando ele chegou, embora aprovando essa disposição, foi levado para lá também parte da artilharia que trouxera consigo. [375]

Perda & # 8211 No campo triangular formado pelas duas estradas mencionadas, e perto do moinho, o comando do General Stansbury foi postado na manhã do dia 24. No cume de uma pequena eminência naquele campo, a trezentos e cinquenta metros da ponte Bladensburg, entre um grande celeiro 29 e a estrada Washington, uma barbette terraplenagem fora erguida para o uso de canhões pesados. Por trás desse trabalho estavam as companhias de artilharia de Baltimore, comandadas pelos capitães Myers e Magruder, cento e cinquenta homens, com seis canhões de 6 libras. Estes eram pequenos demais para o aterro alto, e canhoneiras foram cortadas para que pudessem comandar a ponte e ambas as estradas. Os fuzileiros do Major Pinkney estavam à direita da bateria, perto da junção das estradas, e escondidos pelos arbustos no terreno baixo perto do rio. Duas companhias de milícia, sob os capitães Ducker e Gorsuch, atuando como fuzileiros, estavam estacionadas na parte traseira da esquerda da bateria, perto do celeiro e da estrada Georgetown. Cerca de cinquenta metros na retaguarda dos fuzileiros de Pinkney estava o Quinto Regimento de Voluntários de Baltimore de Sterett, enquanto os regimentos de Ragan e Schutz foram elaborados em escalão, 30 com a direita apoiada à esquerda das companhias de Ducker e Gorsuch, e comandando a Georgetown Road. A cavalaria, cerca de trezentos e oitenta ao todo, foi colocada um pouco na retaguarda, na extrema esquerda, e parece não ter participado da batalha que se seguiu.

Perda & # 8211 O coronel Monroe, sem consultar o general Stansbury e em face do inimigo, então do outro lado do braço oriental, passou a alterá-lo, movendo os regimentos de Sterett, Ragan e Schutz em um quarto de milha na retaguarda da artilharia e dos fuzileiros, com a direita apoiada na Washington Road. Esta formava uma segunda linha à vista do inimigo, ao alcance de seus foguetes Congreve, totalmente descobertos, e tão longe da primeira linha que não era capaz de dar-lhe apoio imediato em caso de ataque. Este foi um erro que provou desastroso, mas era tarde demais para ser corrigido, o inimigo estava tão perto.

Perda & # 8211 Nesse meio tempo, o General Winder havia chegado ao campo e postado uma terceira linha de retaguarda no topo das colinas, perto da residência do falecido John C. Rives, proprietário do Washington Globe, a cerca de um quilômetro da Ponte Bladensburg . Essa linha abrangia um regimento da milícia de Maryland, sob o comando do coronel Beall, que acabara de chegar de Annapolis, e estava postado na extrema direita dos homens da flotilha Barney, que formavam o centro na Washington Road, com dois canhões de 18 libras plantados na rodovia a a poucos metros do local do celeiro de Rives, uma porção dos marinheiros agindo como artilheiros e a milícia do distrito do coronel Magruder, regulares sob o comando do tenente-coronel Scott e a bateria de Peter, que formava a esquerda.

Perda & # 8211 Cerca de quinhentos metros à frente desta posição, a estrada desce para uma ravina suave, que era então, como agora, atravessada por uma pequena ponte (de Tournecliffe), ao norte da qual se alarga em um nível pouco gramado, e formou o duelo -plano onde Decatur e outros perderam suas vidas.

Perda & # 8211 Acima, a cerca de cento e cinquenta metros da estrada, há um penhasco abrupto no qual as companhias dos capitães Stull e Davidson estavam posicionadas para comandar aquela rodovia. O Tenente Coronel Scott, com seus regulares, o Coronel Brent, com o Segundo Regimento da brigada do General Smith, e o Major Waring, com o batalhão da milícia de Maryland, foram colocados na retaguarda da bateria do Major Peter. Magruder estava imediatamente à esquerda dos homens de Barney, sua direita descansando na Washington Road e o Coronel Kramer, com um pequeno destacamento, foi lançado para frente do Coronel Beall.

Gleig & # 8211 Eu disse que a margem direita do Potomac era coberta por uma estreita faixa de salgueiros e lariços. Aqui os americanos posicionaram fortes corpos de fuzileiros, que, em ordem de escaramuça, cobriram toda a frente de seu exército. Atrás dessa plantação, novamente, os campos eram abertos e claros, cortados, a certas distâncias, por fileiras de estacas altas e fortes. Mais ou menos no meio da subida, e na retaguarda de uma dessas fileiras, ficava a primeira linha, composta inteiramente de infantaria a um intervalo adequado desta, e em uma situação semelhante, ficava a segunda linha, enquanto a terceira, ou reserva, foi postado dentro das saias de um bosque, que coroava as alturas. The artillery, again, of which they had twenty pieces in the field, was thus arranged on the high road, and commanding the bridge, stood two heavy guns and four more, two on each side of the road, swept partly in the same direction, and partly down the whole of the slope into the streets of Bladensburg. The rest were scattered, with no great judgment, along the second line of infantry, occupying different spaces between the right of one regiment and the left of another whilst the cavalry showed itself in one mass, within a stubble field, near the extreme left of the position. Such was the nature of the ground which they occupied, and the formidable posture in which they waited our approach amounting, by their own account, to nine thousand men, a number exactly doubling that of the force which was to attack them.

Batalha

Lossing – at noon, the enemy were seen descending the hills beyond Bladensburg, and pressing on toward the bridge.

Gleig – In the mean time, our column continued to advance in the same order which it had hitherto preserved. The road, having conducted us for about two miles in a direction parallel with the river, and of consequence with the enemy’s line, suddenly turned, and led directly towards the town of Bladensburg. Being of course ignorant whether this town might not be filled with American troops, the main body paused here till the advanced guard should reconnoitre. The result proved that no opposition was intended in that quarter, and that the whole of the enemy’s army had been withdrawn to the opposite side of the stream, whereupon the column was again put in motion, and in a short time arrived in the streets of Bladensburg, and within range of the American artillery.

Lossing – At half past twelve they were in the town, and came within range of the heavy guns of the first American line.

Gleig – Immediately on our reaching this point, several of their guns opened upon us, and kept up a quick and well-directed cannonade, from which, as we were again commanded to halt, the men were directed to shelter themselves as much as possible behind the houses. The object of this halt, it was conjectured, was to give the General an opportunity of examining the American line, and of trying the depth of the river because at present there appeared to be but one practicable mode of attack, by crossing the bridge, and taking the enemy directly in front. To do so, however, exposed as the bridge was, must be attended with bloody consequences, nor could the delay of a few minutes produce any mischief which the discovery of a ford would not amply compensate. But in this conjecture we were altogether mistaken for without allowing time to the column to close its ranks, or to be joined by such of the many stragglers as were now hurrying, as fast as weariness would permit, to regain their places, the order to halt was countermanded, and the word given to attack and we immediately pushed on at double quick time, towards the head of the bridge.

Mahan – The anxiety of the Americans was therefore for their left. The British commander was eager to be done with his job, and to get back to his ships from a position militarily insecure. He had long been fighting Napoleon’s troops in the Spanish peninsula, and was not yet fully imbued with Drummond’s conviction that with American militia liberties might be taken beyond the limit of ordinary military precaution. No time was spent looking for a ford, but the troops dashed straight for the bridge. The fire of the American artillery was excellent, and mowed down the head of the column but the seasoned men persisted and forced their way across. At this moment Barney was coming up with his seamen, and at Winder’s request brought his guns into line across the Washington road, facing the bridge.

Lossing –The British commenced hurling rockets at the exposed Americans, and attempted to throw a heavy force across the bridge, but were driven back by their antagonists’ cannon, and forced to take shelter in the village and behind Lowndes’s Hill, in the rear of it. 33

Lossing –Again, after due preparation, they advanced in double-quick time and, when the bridge was crowded with them, the artillery of Winder’s first and second lines opened upon them with terrible effect, sweeping down a whole company. The concealed riflemen, under Pinkney, also poured deadly volleys into their exposed ranks but the British, continually re-enforced, pushed gallantly forward, some over the bridge, and some fording the stream above it, and fell so heavily upon the first and unsupported line of the Americans that it was compelled to fall back upon the second.

Gleig – When once there, however, everything else appeared easy. Wheeling off to the right and left of the road, they dashed into the thicket, and quickly cleared it of the American skirmishers who, falling back with precipitation upon the first line, threw it into disorder before it had fired a shot. The consequence was, that our troops had scarcely shown themselves when the whole of that line gave way, and fled in the greatest confusion, leaving the two guns upon the road in possession of the victors.

Lossing –A company, whose commander is unnamed in the reports of the battle, were so panic-stricken that they fled after the first fire, leaving their guns to fall into the hands of the enemy.

Lossing –The first British brigade were now over the stream, and, elated by their success, did not wait for the second. They threw away their knapsacks and haversacks, and pushed up the hill to attack the American second line in the face of an annoying fire from Captain Burch’s artillery.

Gleig – But here it must be confessed that the light brigade was guilty of imprudence. Instead of pausing till the rest of the army came up, the soldiers lightened themselves by throwing away their knapsacks and haversacks and extending their ranks so as to show an equal front with the enemy, pushed on to the attack of the second line. The Americans, however, saw their weakness, and stood firm, and having the whole of their artillery, with the exception of the pieces captured on the road, and the greater part of their infantry in this line, they first checked the ardour of the assailants by a heavy fire, and then, in their turn, advanced to recover the ground which was lost.

Lossing –They weakened their force by stretching out so as to form a front equal to that of their antagonists. It was a blunder which Winder quickly perceived and took advantage of. He was then at the head of Sterett’s regiment. With this and some of Stansbury’s militia, who behaved gallantly, he not only checked the enemy’s advance, but, at the point of the bayonet, pressed their attenuated line so strongly that it fell back to the thickets on the brink of the river, near the bridge,

Lossing – [Brits] maintained its position most obstinately until re-enforced by the second brigade. Thus strengthened, it again pressed forward, and soon turned the left flank of the Americans, and at the same time sent a flight of hissing rockets over and very near the centre and right of Stansbury’s line.

Gleig – In this state the action continued till the second brigade had likewise crossed, and formed upon the right bank of the river when the 44th regiment moving to the right, and driving in the skirmishers, debouched upon the left flank of the Americans, and completely turned it. In that quarter, therefore, the battle was won because the raw militia-men, who were stationed there as being the least assailable point, when once broken could not be rallied. But on their right the enemy still kept their ground with much resolution nor was it till the arrival of the 4th regiment, and the advance of the British forces in firm array to the charge, that they began to waver. Then, indeed, seeing their left in full flight, and the 44th getting in their rear, they lost all order, and dispersed, leaving clouds of riflemen to cover their retreat and hastened to conceal themselves in the woods, where it would have been madness to follow them.

Mahan – Soon after this, a few rockets passing close over the heads of the battalions supporting the batteries on the left started them running, much as a mule train may be stampeded by a night alarm. It was impossible to rally them. A part held for a short time but when Winder attempted to retire them a little way, from a fire which had begun to annoy them, they also broke and fled. [376]

Lossing –The frightened regiments of Schutz and Ragan broke, and fled in the wildest confusion.

Lossing –Winder tried to rally them, but in vain. Sterett’s corps maintained their ground gallantly until the enemy had gained both their flanks, when Winder ordered them and the supporting artillery to retire up the hill. They, too, became alarmed, and the retreat, covered by riflemen, was soon a disorderly flight.

Gleig – The rout was now general throughout the line. The reserve, which ought to have supported the main body, fled as soon as those in its front began to give way and the cavalry, instead of charging the British troops, now scattered in pursuit, turned their horses’ heads and galloped off, leaving them in undisputed possession of the field, and of ten out of the twenty pieces of artillery.

Lossing –The first and second line of the Americans having been dispersed, the British, flushed with success, pushed forward to attack the third. Peter’s artillery annoyed, but did not check them and the left, under the gallant Colonel Thornton, soon confronted Barney, in the centre, who maintained his position like a genuine hero, as he was. His 18-pounders enfiladed the Washington Road, and with them he swept the highway with such terrible effect that the enemy filed off into a field, and attempted to turn Barney’s right flank. There they were met by three 12-pounders and marines, under Captains Miller and Sevier, and were badly cut up. They were driven back to the ravine already mentioned as the dueling-ground, leaving several of their wounded officers in the hands of the Americans. Colonel Thornton, who bravely led the attacking column, was severely wounded, and General Ross had his horse shot under him.

Lossing –The flight of Stansbury’s troops left Barney unsupported in that direction, while a heavy column was hurled against Beall and his militia, on the right, with such force as to disperse them. The British light troops soon gained position on each flank, and Barney himself was severely wounded. When it became evident that Minor’s Virginia troops could not arrive in time to aid the gallant flotilla-men, who were obstinately maintaining their position against fearful odds, and that farther resistance would, be useless, Winder ordered a general retreat.

Mahan – The American left was thus routed, but Barney’s battery and its supporting infantry still held their ground. “During this period,” reported the Commodore,—that is, while his guns were being brought into battery, and the remainder of his seamen and marines posted to support them,—”the engagement continued, the enemy advancing, and our own army retreating before them, apparently in much disorder. At length the enemy made his appearance on the main road, in force, in front of my battery, and on seeing us made a halt. I reserved our fire. In a few minutes the enemy again advanced, when I ordered an 18-pounder to be fired, which completely cleared the road shortly after, a second and a third attempt was made by the enemy to come forward, but all were destroyed. They then crossed into an open field and attempted to flank our right he was met there by three 12-pounders, the marines under Captain Miller, and my men, acting as infantry, and again was totally cut up. By this time not a vestige of the American army remained, except a body of five or six hundred, posted on a height on my right, from whom I expected much support from their fine situation.” [377]

Mahan – In this expectation Barney was disappointed. The enemy desisted from direct attack and worked gradually round towards his right flank and rear. As they thus moved, the guns of course were turned towards them but a charge being made up the hill by a force not exceeding half that of its defenders, they also “to my great mortification made no resistance, giving a fire or two, and retired. Our ammunition was expended, and unfortunately the drivers of my ammunition wagons had gone off in the general panic.” Barney himself, being wounded and unable to escape from loss of blood, was left a prisoner. Two of his officers were killed, and two wounded. The survivors stuck to him till he ordered them off the ground. Ross and Cockburn were brought to him, and greeted him with a marked respect and politeness and he reported that, during the stay of the British in Bladensburg, he was treated by all “like a brother,” to use his own words. [378]

Mahan – The character of this affair is sufficiently shown by the above outline narrative, re-enforced by the account of the losses sustained. Of the victors sixty-four were killed, one hundred and eighty-five wounded. The defeated, by the estimate of their superintending surgeon, had ten or twelve killed and forty wounded. [379] Such a disparity of injury is usual when the defendants are behind fortifications but in this case of an open field, and a river to be crossed by the assailants, the evident significance is that the party attacked did not wait to contest the ground, once the enemy had gained the bridge. After that, not only was the rout complete, but, save for Barney’s tenacity, there was almost no attempt at resistance. Ten pieces of cannon remained in the hands of the British. “The rapid flight of the enemy,” reported General Ross, “and his knowledge of the country, precluded the possibility of many prisoners being taken.” That night the British entered Washington.

Lossing – The Americans lost twenty-six killed and fifty-one wounded. The British loss was manifold greater. According to one of their officers who was in the battle, and yet living (Mr. Gleig, Chaplain General of the British Army), it was “upward of five hundred killed and wounded,” among them “several officers of rank and distinction.” The battle commenced at about noon, and ended at four o’clock.

Afterward

Gleig – This battle, by which the fate of the American capital was decided, began about one o’clock in the afternoon, and lasted till four. The loss on the part of the English was severe, since, out of two-thirds of the army, which were engaged, upwards of five hundred men were killed and wounded and what rendered it doubly severe was, that among these were numbered several officers of rank and distinction. Colonel Thornton, who commanded the light brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, commanding the 85th regiment, and Major Brown, who led the advanced guard, were all severely wounded and General Ross himself had a horse shot under him. On the side of the Americans the slaughter was not so great. Being in possession of a strong position, they were of course less exposed in defending, than the others in storming it and had they conducted themselves with coolness and resolution, it is not conceivable how the battle could have been won. But the fact is, that, with the exception of a party of sailors from the gun-boats, under the command of Commodore Barney, no troops could behave worse than they did. The skirmishers were driven in as soon as attacked, the first line gave way without offering the slightest resistance, and the left of the main body was broken within half an hour after it was seriously engaged. Of the sailors, however, it would be injustice not to speak in the terms which their conduct merits. They were employed as gunners, and not only did they serve their guns with a quickness and precision which astonished their assailants, but they stood till some of them were actually bayoneted, with fuzes in their hands nor was it till their leader was wounded and taken, and they saw themselves deserted on all sides by the soldiers, that they quitted the field. With respect to the British army, again, no line of distinction can be drawn. All did their duty, and none more gallantly than the rest and though the brunt of the affair fell upon the light brigade, this was owing chiefly to the circumstance of its being at the head of the column, and perhaps also, in some degree, to its own rash impetuosity. The artillery, indeed, could do little being unable to show itself in presence of a force so superior but the six-pounder was nevertheless brought into action, and a corps of rockets proved of striking utility.

Mahan – The burning of Washington was the impressive culmination of the devastation to which the coast districts were everywhere exposed by the weakness of the country, while the battle of Bladensburg crowned the humiliation entailed upon the nation by the demagogic prejudices in favor of untrained patriotism, as supplying all defects for ordinary service in the field. In the defenders of Bladensburg was realized Jefferson’s ideal of a citizen soldiery, [382] unskilled, but strong in their love of home, flying to arms to oppose an invader and they had every inspiring incentive to tenacity, for they, and they only, stood between the enemy and the centre and heart of national life. The position they occupied, though unfortified, had many natural advantages while the enemy had to cross a river which, while in part fordable, was nevertheless an obstacle to rapid action, especially when confronted by the superior artillery the Americans had. The result has been told but only when contrasted with the contemporary fight at Lundy’s Lane is Bladensburg rightly appreciated. Occurring precisely a month apart, and with men of the same race, they illustrate exactly the difference in military value between crude material and finished product.

Lossing – “It was not,” says one of Ross’s surviving aids, Sir Duncan M‘Dougall, in a letter to the author in 1861, “until he was warmly pressed that he consented to destroy the Capitol and President’s house, for the purpose of preventing a repetition of the uncivilized proceedings of the troops of the United States.” Fortunately for Ross’s sensibility there was a titled incendiary at hand in the person of Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who delighted in such inhuman work, and who literally became his torch-bearer.


200th Anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg and the Burning of Washington, DC

2014-08-23T12:59:23-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/4d8/20140823133209003_hd.jpg Panelists commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, British soldiers defeated American troops at the Battle of Bladensburg just outside the nation&rsquos capital. The British forces then marched into the city and burned down the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and other government buildings.

The panelists were: Steve Vogel, author of Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation Christopher T. George, author of Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay Ralph Eshelman, co-author of In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake and Peter Snow, author of When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington. John McCavitt spoke from the audience.

This &ldquoWriters Roundtable,&rdquo held in the Education Building of the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, was part of the &ldquoUndaunted Weekend&rdquo of the Battle of Bladensburg Festival.

Panelists commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, British… read more

Panelists commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, British soldiers defeated American troops at the Battle of Bladensburg just outside the nation&rsquos capital. The British forces then marched into the city and burned down the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and other government buildings.

The panelists were: Steve Vogel, author of Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation Christopher T. George, author of Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay Ralph Eshelman, co-author of In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake and Peter Snow, author of When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington. John McCavitt spoke from the audience.

This &ldquoWriters Roundtable,&rdquo held in the Education Building of the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, was part of the &ldquoUndaunted Weekend&rdquo of the Battle of Bladensburg Festival. close


Spooked Horse or Spooked President? John Gilpin, James Madison, and “The Bladensburg Races”

August 24, 1814, the day the British burned Washington, D.C., is typically remembered for a heroic act: Dolley Madison rescuing the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington as she fled the White House. At the time, however, a cowardly act—American militiamen retreating from Bladensburg, Maryland—caught the attention of the press. Newspaper editor Hezekiah Niles lambasted the militiamen who “generally fled without firing a gun, and threw off every incumbrance of their speed!” [1] An anonymous ballad called “The Bladensburg Races” satirizes this blunder, casting President James Madison as the retreater-in-chief whose horse, Griffin, carries him well past Bladensburg. [1] But the content, characterizations, and many of the stanzas in “The Bladensburg Races” originated in 1782, when The Public Advertiser in London printed a ballad by William Cowper, “The entertaining and facetious History of John Gilpin, shewing how he went farther than he intended, and came home safe at last.” [3] Gilpin’s follies—and his stubborn and easily-spooked horse—became Madison’s liabilities as Commander-in-Chief.

In Cowper’s ballad, John Gilpin’s unnamed wife urges her husband to take a break from his business in Cheapside, London to celebrate their anniversary in Edmonton. Gilpin borrows a horse from his friend “the Callender,” but the horse speeds off at such a pace that Gilpin’s wig and hat fly off, and the two zoom past Edmonton because the horse is used to traveling to its owner’s house in Ware. When the horse finally stops, the Callender assumes that Gilpin, disheveled and bare-headed, has raced to deliver some urgent news, but Gilpin retorts, “I came because your horse would come, / And if I well forbode, / My hat and wig will soon be here, / They are upon the road.” The Callender replaces Gilpin’s wig and hat with his own, which are too big for Gilpin’s head and immediately lost on the return trip. As before, the horse does not stop in Edmonton, and soon, Gilpin finds himself back in Cheapside where the journey began.

Much like Gilpin’s borrowed horse, Cowper’s ballad went farther than he intended, finding popularity through cheap print and performances on both sides of the Atlantic in the decades after the American Revolution and inspiring “The Bladensburg Races,” where “John Gilpin,” linen draper from Cheapside, transforms into “Generalissimo” James Madison. Readers did not need to be familiar with “The Diverting History of John Gilpin” to understand “The Bladensburg Races,” but those who were would have found that the author adapted British farce into biting American political satire.

Both ballads begin with a nagging wife. Mrs. Gilpin has waited “These twice ten tedious Years” for a holiday, while Mrs. Madison has waited “These two last tedious weeks” for the enemy to reach the capital. Both couples plan for the wife and family to travel by coach, and the husband to follow behind on horse, but James suggests that he will ride as if to Bladensburg, and then rendezvous with Dolley further out of town. She agrees, noting that once news spreads that the President has fled, “Twill set the town on fire.” The Madisons did not actually premeditate their evacuation, but the ballad paints James Madison as a “gallant Little Man” who runs away from battle, while Secretary of State James Monroe becomes the Post Boy who Mrs. Gilpin sends after her husband.

In Cowper’s ballad, the frugal Mrs. Gilpin plans to bring bottles of wine for the anniversary dinner, but forgets to pack them. John Gilpin straps the wine to his belt, and the bottles break during the jolting ride: “Down ran the wine into the road / Most piteous to be seen, / Which made his horse’s flanks to smoke / As they had basted been.” In “The Bladensburg Races,” the wine bottles are substituted for swords, which Madison straps to his belt like Gilpin. The author’s implication is that the swords, which beat against Madison’s back as the horse gains speed, will do him as much good as Gilpin’s broken wine bottles. [4] As Madison tries to keep his grasp on the horse’s reins, “His little head full low, / His sword flew up against his hat, / And gave him such a blow, / Off went at once his chapeau-bras, / And fell into the road.”

The peak comedic moment of Gilpin’s story—his hat and wig in mid-air as his wine-soaked horse speeds through Edmonton—was captured in contemporary engravings, and later in Randolph Caldecott’s illustrations. In fact, I came to know John Gilpin through the image, not the text. My grandmother had a broadside of the ballad hanging in her dining room, and because my great-grandmother’s maiden name was Gilpin, I grew up assuming that this befuddled man on horseback was some ancestor. But “The Bladensburg Races” evokes a different, darkly comedic image of the Commander-in-Chief with a far more meaningful hat, an essential piece of a military dress uniform, flying in the wind as he retreats from the advancing British forces.

Gilpin’s story is entertaining because, despite his character flaws, the episode is entirely the horse’s fault. Gilpin pries himself away from the routine of his business and marriage, but his borrowed horse remains committed to its own routine of carrying its rider to Ware and back. “The Bladensburg Races” twists this comedic dynamic into a commentary on Madison’s leadership during the War of 1812. The horses in both ballads are spooked—Gilpin’s by a braying donkey, and Madison’s by a British cannonade. But when James Madison reaches the place where he is supposed to meet Dolley, the author suggests that, unlike Gilpin, Madison is more than happy to keep riding past his waiting wife. A comparison of these stanzas shows how ambiguous the pronoun “he” is in “The Bladensburg Races”:

Was it the horse who flew swiftly away from the British, or did Madison drive their escape, abandoning his wife and country in the process? From the ballad’s opening conversation where James and Dolley agree that he should only feign as if he is riding into battle, to this revelation that experiencing the war first-hand was too much for Madison to take, the story of a runaway horse morphs into the story of a scaredy-cat President.

“The Bladensburg Races” concludes in the same way as “The Diverting History of John Gilpin,” substituting “long live the King” with “long live Madison the brave!” But instead of the hopeful final lines of Cowper’s ballad (“And when he next does ride abroad, / May I be there to see!”), the author adds two stanzas indicting American leadership during the war: “And when their Country’s Cause at stake / Against th’ invading foe: / But fly their posts—ere the first gun / Has echo’d o’er the wave, / Pare! Pare! POTOWMAC! stop thy course! / Nor pass MOUNT VERNON’S Grave! ” While the original farce leaves readers longing to witness a ride as entertaining as Gilpin’s for themselves, this satire leaves readers longing for a time when the President was as competent and respected a military leader as George Washington. Recast as Mrs. Gilpin, Dolley Madison’s own evacuation and her decision to order Paul Jennings and other servants to save Washington’s portrait, are erased. For the author of “The Bladensburg Races,” the Battle of Bladensburg was a folly on equal footing with the Gilpins’ failed holiday.

Emily Sneff is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at William & Mary. She studies early American print and material culture, focusing on the founding era. Her dissertation explores the dissemination of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Before graduate school, she was the research manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University.

Title Image: Mural in United States Capitol Building showing the burning of the Capitol in 1814. By Allyn Cox, 1974. Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.

Further readings:

Nicole Eustace, 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).

Edward Skeen, Citizen Soldiers in the War of 1812 (Louisville: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999).

Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

[1] “Capture of Washington City,” Niles’ Weekly Register (Baltimore, MD), 27 August 1814, 443.

[2] The Bladensburg Races. Written Shortly After the Capture of Washington City, August 24, 1814 (Printed for the Purchaser, 1816). For quotes from “The Bladensburg Races,” see this edition.

[3] The Public Advertiser (London: Printed by H.S. Woodfall), 14 November 1782, 2. For quotes from “The Diverting History of John Gilpin,” see this edition. The ballad was first published anonymously.

[4] Gilpin is alerted to the forgotten wine bottles by “Betty,” perhaps a servant, but Madison is alerted by “Cuffee,” presumably a layered and racialized reference to Paul Cuffe.


Battle of Bladensburg Walking Tour

Starting from the Waterfront Park, use this PDF version or pick up your own copy at the Visitors Center. The audio tour (below) corresponds with the following locations:

Background Information Audio Tour Stop 1
Background Information Audio Tour Stop 2
Background Information Audio Tour Stop 3
“The British Attack” Audio Tour Stop 4
“The British Attack” Audio Tour Stop 5
Battle Tour Stop 1 Audio Tour Stop 6
Battle Tour Stops 2 & 3 Audio Tour Stop 7
Battle Tour Stops 3, 4, & 5 Audio Tour Stop 8
Battle Tour Stops 7 & 8 Audio Tour Stops 9, 10, 11 & 12
“After the Battle” Audio Tour Stops 13 &14
Battle Tour Stop 6 Audio Tour Stop 15

To explore the history of the Battle of Bladensburg, we recommend walking or biking the remains of the battlefield. With modern development, there isn’t much left of the landscape. However, the first and third line do have remnants that evoke the landscape of the time.

The route was marked from the end of the Bladensburg Waterfront Park pedestrian bridge with small white stars painted along the route, however, many of these stars have been worn away over the last few years. Efforts in 2020 will be made to renew these markings.


Americans Routed

Pressing forward, the British soon came under fire from Smith's men as well as Barney's and Captain George Peter's guns. The 85th attacked again and Thornton was badly wounded with the American line holding. As before, the 44th began moving around the American left and Winder ordered Smith to retreat. These orders failed to reach Barney and his sailors were overwhelmed in hand-to-hand fighting. Beall's men to the rear offered token resistance before joining the general retreat. As Winder had provided only confused directions in case of retreat, the bulk of the American militia simply melted away rather than rallying to further defend the capital.


Battle of Bladensburg

Napoleon’s abdication in April 1814 harbored serious strategic consequences for the United States, for it released thousands of veteran British soldiers for service in the War of 1812. Worse yet, the British government, angered by the burning of York (Toronto) in April 1813 and Port Dover, Ontario, in June 1814, authorized British senior commanders to embark upon an officially sanctioned policy of retribution. Ross, with his single brigade of four veteran regiments (Fourth, 21st, 44th, and 85th) under Cols. Arthur Brooke and William Thornton, were about to become the cutting edge of that policy. He was conveyed to Chesapeake Bay by Adm. Alexander Cochrane and united with a squadron under Adm. George Cockburn. On August 19, 1814, Cockburn landed Ross’s force of 4,500 men at Benedict, Maryland, while he sailed up the Pautuxent River in search of Commodore Joshua Barney’s gunboat flotilla. Barney subsequently destroyed his fleet and marched overland to Washington, D. C., which was only lightly defended. Cockburn then left the fleet to join up with Ross at Upper Marlborough and prevailed upon him to advance upon the American capital, 28 miles distant. To take such a small but veteran force, lacking any cavalry whatsoever, through the heart of enemy country was an audacious ploy, indeed. But danger was Ross’s calling, and he undertook the task with abandon.

The British soldiers advanced in excellent order as far as Bladensburg, Maryland, where, on August 24, 1814, they encountered a force of nearly 7,000 militia under Gen. William H. Winder. Winder squandered his numerical advantage by deploying in three mutually unsupportive lines, and Ross decided to attack immediately. Thornton’s brigade was ordered to charge across a heavily defended defile to his front while Brooke’s men attempted a flanking movement. The leading British elements were badly shot up and Thornton seriously wounded, yet Winder was unable to coordinate his withdrawal. In the ensuing fracas, the entire American army panicked and stampeded. The only real resistance came from a small knot of sailors and marines under Commodore Barney, who stood his ground magnificently until surrounded. Ross, having sustained 300 casualties-and having lost another horse-personally directed the final battlefield activities of the army. He then resumed advancing and occupied Washington that night. However, while accompanying the vanguard, he was fired upon by two snipers, who killed his mount. Ross was unhurt, but he ordered the house from which the shots originated burned-and the British began implementing their retaliatory policy with a vengeance.

Accordingly, the White House, Congress, and all public property were summarily reduced to ashes. Ross, however, was never happy with the practice of state-sponsored vandalism, and he strictly forbade his soldiers from looting private property. Several unlucky violators were caught and summarily flogged. Then, having humiliated the United States thoroughly and garnered additional laurels for himself, the general retraced his steps back to Benedict, where he reembarked on August 30, 1814. From beginning to end it was one of the War of 1812’s most spectacular and remarkable episodes. The entire affair underscored the military unpreparedness of the United States, especially when dealing with so talented and capable an enemy as England.

The Marines and Sailors

The British force of 4,000 men under General Ross landed at Benedict, Maryland on 19 August 1814, and from there set out for Washington. Five days after landing, impeded only by the Maryland sun which prostrated twelve men, they reached the village of Bladensburg just outside Washington, where they came in contact with Winder’s men. ‘On first sight,’ recounted a supercilious British officer, ‘the Americans might have passed off very well for a crowd of spectators come out to view the approach of the army.’

To the west of the village of Bladensburg was the River Anacostia, and Winder’s militia were drawn up on high ground on the far side with the seamen and Marines astride a road in the rear on the right flank. After delivering their Congreve rockets, Ross ordered his army to cross the river and attack the American position. At the first whoosh of the rockets, Winder’s militia threw away their muskets and fled. The Marines and seamen, however, stood fast. The Commodore Barney busied himself with his guns and Marine Captain Miller deployed the Marines as infantry. Ross pushed on unconcernedly until his advanced guard reached the rising ground on which Barney and Miller had sited their guns and formed the Marines. Boldly the British charged. The Commodore himself checked the laying of each piece. Then at last he gave the order to one gun to fire. As he reported, ‘I reserved our fire. In a few minutes the British advanced, when I ordered an 18 pounder to be fired, which completely cleared the road.’ The Commodore was guilty of no exaggeration, for the British afterwards said that the seamen gunners’ initial blast of grape and canister blew an entire company off the road. As the sailors stood to their guns, a hail of musketry swept down on the advancing foe from the Marines. Twice more the British re-formed and charged twice more they were thrown back. The last repulse was actually followed by a counter-attack by the Marines and cutlass-swinging sailors shouting, ‘Board ’em! Board ’em!’ But by now both the Commodore and Captain Miller had been wounded. And General Ross, having seven times Barney’s force, worked flanking columns expertly round the thin line of Marines and seamen. With more than a fifth of the Marines killed or wounded, and with a bullet through his own thigh, Commodore Barney gave orders to retire. Although the redcoat had been stopped for two hours and had suffered 249 casualties, they could not be kept from their goal. Almost every public building in Washington was put to the torch, including the White House and the Capitol. The Commandant’s house was the one structure that escaped legend has it that General Ross spared the house because it ranked as ‘married quarters’.


Assista o vídeo: The Battle of Fort McHenry, through Francis Scott Keys Eyes (Julho 2022).


Comentários:

  1. Eznik

    Notavelmente, a mensagem muito útil

  2. Daill

    Obrigado pela informação, posso, eu também posso ajudá -lo?

  3. Aeson

    Bravo, acho que esta é uma frase diferente

  4. Ball

    Que frase ... ótima, a ideia excelente



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