U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources

Historians fret fate of War of 1812 sites

Historians fret fate of War of 1812 sites

On a grassy hill a mile west of the Patuxent River, historian Ralph Eshelman can see the same bucolic view of fields and placid water anxious British soldiers likely saw when they landed in the summer of 1814 — the first stop in their campaign to burn Washington to the ground.

Despite an earlier raid that was repulsed by American militia, the more than 4,000-man British force faced no resistance on Aug. 19 as it swarmed ashore in Southern Maryland. Four days later, after defeating disorganized American defenses at Bladensburg, the soldiers marched into Washington unopposed, setting fire to the Capitol and White House and demoralizing the nation.

"It's the only time...