British Troops Burn Down the White House

24th August 1814

After defeating the American forces in the Battle of Bladensburg on 24th August 1814, British forces led by Major General Robert Ross invaded the American capital district of Washington DC. In so doing, Britain became the first and only country to have captured the United States capital in the country’s history. Military and government officials, including US President James Madison were forced to flee the city.

In retaliation for the American destruction of Port Dover in Upper Canada, the British forces set several governmental and military buildings alight, including the United States Capitol Building, and the Presidential Mansion, now known as the White House. The occupation of Washington lasted only slightly more than a day however as a heavy thunderstorm passed through the capital putting out the fires, killing several British and American troops, and destroying British ships. The British troops returned to their ships, and Americans returned to the city, thankful for the “Storm that saved Washington”.

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