Friday, September 23, 2011

The British at Mount Vernon (War of 1812)

In August, 1814, as Washington City still smoldered, seven British warships under the command of Captain James Gordon appeared on the Potomac River headed for the city. Instead of attacking and destroying Mount Vernon, as anticipated the seven vessels fired salutes as they came abreast of the mansion.

The British flotilla proceeded up the river and held the town of Alexandria, Virginia hostage for several days. While the British were confiscating goods in Alexandria, American forces were setting up a battery on the river at White House Landing below Mount Vernon. On September 1, Captain Gordon sent two of his ships to fire on the battery to impede its completion, but by evening the Americans had five naval long guns and eight artillery field pieces in place. On September 6, the entire squadron engaged the battery destroying all thirteen American guns within forty five minutes. All seven British warships and twenty one captured merchant vessels returned to the main fleet.

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