Unique Events Mark 200th Anniversary of Washington's Capture and Burning
Sunday marks the 200th anniversary of the Capture and Burning of Washington by British forces during the War of 1812, "America's Second War of Independence."
On Aug. 24, 1814, Gen. Robert Ross and his troops set fire to the U.S. Capitol, Treasury, White House and other public buildings. No private property was put to the torch. Nevertheless, many Washington residents fled to Georgetown, D.C., and then to the wilds of Virginia and Maryland. Days later, President James Madison and first lady Dolley Madison returned to Washington, D.C., only to see a burned-out Executive Mansion. The capital resolved to rebuild, and America began its drive to greatness as a nation.
To commemorate the bicentennial of this long-ago British invasion, events abound in D.C. and Maryland. They include a "Flee the British" 5K at Congressional Cemetery, Dolley Day at Dumbarton House in Georgetown, an unfurling of an original-size Star-Spangled Banner replica on the Ellipse, a 1812-style Sunday service at Christ Church on Capitol Hill and a dinner at Martin's Tavern from the White House menu of Aug. 24, 1814 , "The Meal That Was Never Served."
Aug. 23 to 24 -- War of 1812 Family Festival & Dolley Day
Walking tours, ice cream making, Dolley cake, Federal period games, and crafts from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St., NW. Tickets are $10. For details, call 202-337-2288.
Aug. 23 to 24 -- The Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration and Monument Unveiling
A day-long festival of events including a reenactment, musical performances, children’s village, Food Truck Rally, and fireworks at Waterfront Park, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, Md., following the unveiling of the new Battle of Bladensburg Monument. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free. For details, call 301-887-0777.
Aug. 24 -- Flee the British 5K at Congressional Cemetery
Commemorate the 200th anniversary of the British invasion of D.C. with a 5K run at 8 a.m. at the Historic Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E St., SE, among graves of many of the key players in the War of 1812 -- www.CongressionalCemetery.org/flee-British-5k -- 202-543-0539.
Aug. 23 -- Meet Dolley Madison at the Ellipse
At President’s Park, the White House Ellipse, Washington, D.C.-- 10 a.m. and noon. The United States Park Service will feature a park ranger dressed as Dolley Madison, with a 30-minute presentation about the first lady’s role in the War of 1812.
Aug. 24 -- Full-Sized Star-Spangled Banner at the Ellipse
At President’s Park, White House Ellipse, visitors will get to hold -- 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. -- a full-sized replica of the 30-foot by 42-foot U.S. flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Chief of Interpretation Vincent Vaise will highlight the British capture of Washington, D.C., the burning of the White House and the successful Defense of Baltimore. Visitors will understand how the events of August and September 1814 shaped how many Americans currently see the flag as the symbol of the spirit of the American people and how that spirit of resilience led to the rebuilding of the Capitol and White House after the War of 1812.
Aug. 24 -- The Key Story
At President’s Park, White House Ellipse, 1:30 p.m., meet Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as he is portrayed by a park ranger. Learn about Key’s life as a father and lawyer in Georgetown, Key’s role in defending Washington, the series of events that led to his writing the song that later becomes the national anthem and his active role in Washington politics after the War of 1812. A lively question and answer session will follow the formal presentation.
Museum Open Houses
Aug. 24 -- Family Day at National Museum of the U.S. Navy
It is Family Day at the Washington Navy Yard on August 24, noon to 4 p.m. -- and to commemorate two of the most important events of the War of 1812: the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of the Washington Navy Yard, the National Museum of the United States Navy will open the new exhibit “Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815” -- 202-433-6897 or 202-433-6826 -- www.history.navy.mil/NMUSN.
Aug. 24 -- Decatur House Open House
The White House Historical Association invites all to a War of 1812 Open House at Decatur House, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington -- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Aug. 24 -- Octagon House Open House
Visit the home where the Madisons lived, following the burning of the White House on Aug. 24, 1814. The museum, now a part of the American Institute of Architects, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. to the public.
Aug. 24 -- Commemorative Services at Christ Church on Capitol Hill
Join worshippers at historic Christ Church on Capitol Hill to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Burning of Washington, D.C. on Aug. 24, 1814. At both its 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Aug. 24, Christ Church will be worshiping in the 1806 building in which its congregation would have worshiped in 1814, using the same Episcopal service that would have been used the Sunday after the Burning of Washington. The rector of Christ Church on that historic day, the Rev. Mr. McCormick, was involved in dealing with the British after they marched into the city and started the burning.
Historic Walking Tours
Aug. 24 -- Washington Is Burning! 2-Part Walking Tour
The Aug. 24, 1814 conflagration ignited by British troops invading Washington, D.C. is the subject of a two-part walking tour offered by Washington Walks, a D.C.-based walking tour company. Guides will lead participants along the route British soldiers took as they marched through America’s capital city, setting ablaze key government buildings and military targets. Many of the sites are included on the “Star-Spangled Banner Trail,” a 560-mile land and water route that tells the story of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay region. Part one of the walking tour takes place in the morning, visiting the Sewall-Belmont House, U.S. Capitol, former sites of the U.S. Patent Office and Washington Daily National Intelligencer newspaper, amongst others. Following a break for lunch, the second half of the walk takes in War of 1812 history in the vicinity of the White House; the former site of Rhodes Tavern, U.S. Treasury building, Dolley Madison house, and the White House itself are a few of the featured stops. The tour concludes at the Octagon, one of the oldest houses in Washington, D.C., and site of the treaty signing that ratified the end of the war. Here tour participants will encounter first lady Dolley Madison, who became the Octagon’s most famous resident when it served as temporary home for President James Madison and his wife, following the destruction of the White House. Washington Walks has partnered with the History Warehouse, an organization that provides living history performers for commemorative events. History Warehouse founder and professional actor Leigh Jameson specializes in portraying Dolley Madison -- www.washingtonwalks.com/tours/washington-is-burning-august-1814.
Aug. 24 -- Georgetown During the War of 1812
Meet 10 a.m. at Dumbarton House’s East Garden at the corner of Q and 27th Streets, NW, for a two-hour walking tour of historic Georgetown devoted to the events of the War of 1812. Join Dwane Starlin, a member of the Guild of Professional Guides of Washington, D.C., for a tour de force of Georgetown during the “Second Revolutionary War,” Visit and view that areas of Georgetown that were part of the conflict, which finally established the United States as a country and not a just a former British colony. The tour ends at the Francis Scott Key Park.
Aug. 20 to 25 -- Pride of Baltimore II Tall Ship at the Navy Yard
Tour and demonstrations of the Pride of Baltimore -- 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- at the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast.
Aug. 24 -- Wreath-Laying at Navy Memorial
To remember those who fought at the Battle of Bladensburg 200 years ago, there will be a wreath laying ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Navy Memorial Plaza, 701 Pennsylvannia Ave., NW. In attendance will be representatives from the U.S. Navy, United States Marine Corps, Great Britain, and Canada.
Aug. 23 and 24 -- National Park Service Freedom Plaza Programs
Walking tours and re-enactments, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, NW.
Aug. 24 -- White House Dinner at Billy Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown (1264 Wisconsin Ave., NW) will be serving “The Dinner That Was Never Served” (at the White House on Aug. 24, 1814, when British troops burned the Capitol and White House) 200 years later, on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The menu consists of what the 40 guests might have been served, as President James Madison’s cabinet and military officers intended to toast what they assumed would be a victory at the Battle of Bladensburg on Aug. 24, 1814.