Exactly two hundred years ago this weekend, on the afternoon of August 24, 1814, a British army of some 4,000 redcoats routed an American army of mostly 6,000 militia at Bladensburg in an affair often laughingly referred to as “The Bladensburg Races” because of the precipitous retreat of the largely poorly trained and panicked militia. That evening, the redcoats marched into and then proceeded to burn the public buildings of Washington, D.C. British Army commander Major General Robert Ross even had the temerity of enjoying wine and a meal laid out for the hoped-for American victors at the Executive Mansion, that we now refer to as “The White House” — allegedly painted white to hide the burn marks left by the British. Those are the facts that many people know, and, to this day, the scorch marks at the White House and at the U.S. Capitol are still there for the public to see as graphic proof of what happened. A definite low point in the life of Washington and of this nation.
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