Saturday, April 28, 2012
THE GREAT AMERICAN HISTORY PARTY IS STARTING!!!!
Following two years of conflict along the Canadian border, and a seige of the Chesapeake region, the nation's capital was set aflame in August of 1814 when the British war machine landed troops along the Patuxent River and marched them from Benedict, Maryland, through Upper Marlboro and on to Bladensburg. It was here that a few brave marines and a heroic team of flotillamen stood with a rag-tag team of under-trained and under-armed militiamen in an attempt to halt the British advance on Washington. In a bloody rout that left hordes of dead soldiers on the battlefield, the Americans were defeated and the British prepared for the push to the capital.
The personal stories and details of that conflict, and the ensuing attack on the emerging but still swamp-like Washington City, as it was then known, are dramatized in book three, "Dawn's Early Light." Researching and writing that story has been one of the most enlightening, and humbling experiences of my career. My love of Washington, and my personal connection to that city have been deepened by that experience. I love that city so personally now.
Washington's big part in the Bicentennial will peak in 2014, the bicentennial of the attack on the capital when President Madison and Dolly were forced to flee for their very lives, but even in these early days of the celebration, Washington's doors are open to showcase her amazing history.
The burning of the capital left America stunned as her citizens worried about the fate of their republic and government. Her citizens rose from their knees and headed for Baltimore, the next target on the British list of prizes, knowing that this port city might be the last stand in the defense of full liberty.
History books today often refer to it as a nothing war. No great amounts of land were exchanged. No leaders were conquered. No government usurped another. But if one reads the accounts of those who lived through the two year seige of America, the terror of lost liberty, and the destruction of democracy was real as they lived in the shadow of Britain's bruital might.