Washington City 1814

The British stormed and burned Washington City to the ground during the War of 1812. The Americans were unprepared for the attack and were forced to evacuate the city. Even though the Americans received an anonymous letter explaining the British plan, they thought there was no way it could be true! At the time, the US Capitol was being built and the city was under construction. Before the city was burned, First Lady Dolly Madison removed the most valuable items in time. One of the most valuable items saved by Dolly Madison was the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.

British soldiers feasted in the dining room of the White House before burning it.

The British were not permitted to invade for long—a day after the attack, a hurricane drenched out their fires.

James Madison fled to Brookeville, Maryland when the city was seized.

This was an act of retaliation against the Americans, who had recently embarrassed the British in the Sacking of York.

Rear Admiral George Cockburn led the British into Washington.