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Subject: British burning Washington DC in early 19th century
aussieeagle2512    1/14/2004 6:10:33 PM
I have read many US history timelines just out of curiousity and always notice how the british apparently burned down Washington DC. But for some reason it didn't have much effect from what I read? Does anyone know how much it ended up affecting the operations of the country?
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Ex98C    RE:British burning Washington DC in early 19th century   1/14/2004 8:24:52 PM
It was in the later stages of the war of 1812 think it was in early 1814..The reason it did not have much effect was that Washington DC was a very new city, only about 20 years old, and the states had a lot more power and influence at that time than did the federal government. Cities such as New York, Boston, Philidelphia and Baltimore were of much greater strategic importance. The british also didn't stay long it was just a riad up the Chesapeake bay..after they left the people moved right back in
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sentinel28a    RE:British burning Washington DC in early 19th century   1/15/2004 6:56:28 AM
Yeah, it's something that's occasionally forgotten by the "Hah, we burned your capital" crowd. The Brits went up to sack Baltimore and got stopped cold. Ex98C is right; Washington didn't have nearly the power and influence it does now.
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Worcester    RE:British burning Washington DC in early 19th century   1/19/2004 6:36:48 PM
Specifically the Brits captured the White House, and almost captured the President - they stopped to eat the President's dinner which was still warm. The torching was in retaliation for our (US) torching of York (now called Toronto). The Brit Royal Marines maintained permanent bases for some three years up and down the Chesapeake bay but the real war, started by the US, was on the Canadian border. Another case of Yankee opportunism; the Brits were fighting the Napoleonic wars so we thought it a good idea to teach the Loyal Americans a lesson and invade Canada. As soon as Napoleon was defeated we sued for peace and gained nothing. Perhaps the news that Wellington had been asked to bring the Brit Peninsular Army (invaded Portugal-Spain-France) to America helped speed-up the peace process?!!
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DragonReborn    Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance   2/11/2004 3:58:45 PM
Here's an interesting what if. What would have happened if Wellington had brought the Pennisula Army to America before the US could sue for peace?
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bsl    RE:Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance   2/11/2004 8:05:53 PM
"What would have happened if Wellington had brought the Pennisula Army to America before the US could sue for peace" A long, bitter war, bleeding both sides, until Napoleon's reappearance caused Britain to recall the forces, and, especially, Arthur Wellesley. At which point Canada would have been taken by the very, very angry Americans, who would also have been amenable to an alliance with the French. That would have made little difference in Europe, but British possessions in the Caribbean would have been at risk.
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Thomas    RE:British burning Copehagen 19th century   2/13/2004 5:05:04 AM
It is now 200 years since the Brits burned Copenhagen. Yes it did have effect on Copenhagen, thank you very much. I can still show you the houses where canonballs are in situ, the church that was burned down, etc... We've got to do something about those British and keep them away from matches - I think we might reach an understanding with the Germans on the subject. Arsonists are not nice people: They are generally also cruel to animals (their foxhunt!!!) and bed wetters.
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sentinel28a    RE:Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance   2/13/2004 4:36:39 PM
They did. Sir Edward Pakenham's army that attacked New Orleans in 1815 were largely Peninsular War veterans; Pakenham had been one of Wellington's commanders. They got butchered by Andrew Jackson. Admittedly, Pakenham's arrogance got them in trouble, and the Americans were defending a superb line backed by cannon. Pakenham should never have attacked it; Wellington wouldn't have. Probably the same thing would have happened: the US would have turned to guerilla warfare, and both sides would have negotiated a truce. The Brits had no desire to fight the US, and half the US didn't want to fight the Brits. New England was talking secession half-seriously during the war.
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Worcester    RE:Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance-bsl   2/16/2004 3:32:50 PM
bsl said:"until Napoleon's reappearance caused Britain to recall the forces...Canada would have been taken by Americans amenable to an alliance withthe French," Doesn't hold water. Wellington crossed the Pyrenees in December 1813 and didn't get Soult's surrender at Toulouse until May 1814. The Peninsular army was in addition to those British already fighting in North America. Important to remember we declared war on Canada and apar from burning down York (Toronto) - for which they burned Washington - we enjoyed few successes apart from Commodore Perry's operations. Ditto the British, especially New Orleans which occured after the peace treaty was signed on December 24 1814. So the idea of the Brits having to rush back to Waterloo is rubbish - they already had the troops in Europe. So the real question is, what would the Peninsular army, as reinforcements to the British garrisons have achieved after June 1814? Since the British government disbanded the Peninsular army in summer 1814 and only 6 of it veteran regiments were at Waterloo - the Waterloo army was surprisingly new - there would have been no rush to send the Peninsular vets home. I don't think it would have been an easy time. Canada? We couldn't take it in 1812-14; so under these conditions? 11,500 Peninsular cavalry and 31,300 infantry (excluding the Portuguese) including the Royal American Regiment (Tories) and this on top of the existing Brit garrisons. And the Brits at Yorktown were 10,500 and the French helped us there. Doesn't look good does it?
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bsl    RE:Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance-bsl   2/16/2004 6:19:13 PM
As far as the Canadian affair went, "we" means the New York militia, rather than the Federal Army, doesn't it? Washington never really wanted to fight over Canada and never diverted resources for an attempted conquest. Most of the operations were related to defending the American side of the Great Lakes and responding to British efforts to raise the Indians in the NW Territories. Re:Waterloo Whoa, there! Waterloo was no pushover. The French came within a hair's breadth of winning the actual battle, as fought. Wellington was the great military genius of the enemies of France. Take him out of the equation and we might easily have seen a French Empire victorious. Or, after the return from Elba, another long round of wars. Wellington didn't just pull his boots on and show up for the surrender. He won that battle, and the war, through some very smart, and not at all obvious, decisions.
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bsl    RE:Brit Peninsular Army to America in Second War of Independance-bsl   2/16/2004 6:24:56 PM
Cut off the end of my last note, which should have continued --- So, take Wellington out of the equation, back in Europe, and Napoleon is *not* defeated, but either wins a major victory in a big fight, or, more likely, defeats the various Allied armies, piecemeal, in detail. At that point, with Napoleon firmly in control of France, occupying at least part of the Lowlands, and with Britain having lost a significant army, and with it's pricipal allies also suffered significant defeats, it's even money whether Parliament of the Prince Regent would have started screaming to recall Wellington, first. Anything which happened or might threaten to happen in the Americas was small beer next to the threat of Bonaparte, victorious, and on the march just across the Channel.
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