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Casebook: The War of 1812
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Battle of Bladensburg
Battle of Bladensburg
August 24 1814

Location: Bladensburg, Prince George's County Maryland United States
Duration: 4 hours

Soldiers Present
     American: 6,000 militia, 200 U.S. Army regulars, 400 sailors and U.S. Marines
     British: 4,000 British Army regulars and Royal Marines

Total Casualties
     American: 50 dead and wounded
     British: 56 dead, 193 wounded

Military Leaders
     American: Brig. Gen. William H. Winder, Brig. Gen. Tobias Stansbury, Brig. Gen. Walter Smith, Com. Joshua Barney
     British: Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, Col. Arthur Brooke, Col. William Thornton

Outcome: Decisive British victory

Summary:

   Following a plan suggested by Rear Admiral George Cockburn, Ross and his troops landed at Benedict on the Patuxent on August 19-20, while Cockburn took a flotilla of small boats up the river to search out and destroy a U.S. flotilla commanded by Commodore Joshua Barney. On August 24, Ross successfully routed the Americans at Bladensburg. Although the U.S. commander Brigadier General William H. Winder, U.S. Army, commanded a numerically superior force of around 6,000 troops, they were mainly militia, with around 200 U.S. Army regulars and 400 sailors and U.S. Marines under Commodore Joshua Barney. The troops, moreover, were poorly deployed by Winder. The first American line, made up of Baltimore militia, was deployed just west of the bridge over the Eastern Branch of the Potomac. Ross sent the 85th Regiment under Colonel William Thornton to storm the bridge and after one unsuccessful attempt, the Redcoats succeeded in reaching the other bank of the river. They then began to push back the militia. Winder made the fatal mistake of telling the militia to fall back along the Georgetown Road instead of along the Washington Road where they could link up with Barney's sailors and marines and the District of Columbia militia. When Thornton was seriously wounded attacking Barney's battery, Ross took personal control of the British advance, and successfully outflanked the commodore's position. Barney was wounded and captured but given parole. Ross led his troops into the capital, Washington, D.C., and he lost the second of his mounts for the day when shots rang out near the Capitol building. This led to a two-day occupation of the city, during which the U.S. Capitol and the Presidential mansion and other buildings were burned allegedly in retaliation for the American burning of the government buildings of York (now Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, at the end of April 1813. Ross and his troops vacated the city during the night of August 25 and the Redcoats marched back to Benedict.

   

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Related pages:
  Ross, Robert
       Battles:  Battle of Baltimore 
       Dissertations:  'Chastising Jonathan': British Views of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake 
       Documents:  Brig. Gen. John Stricker to Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith: Report on the Battle of North Point 
       People:  Lt. George R. Gleig 
       People:  Maj. Gen. Robert Ross 
       People:  Rear Adm. George Cockburn 

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Copyright © Christopher T. George, 2012