If you have a Washington DC office space, then I’m sure you can appreciate how international and vibrant your city is. But a city this rich in culture has a great deal of history in its past, too.
You work hard in your DC office space. But did you know that you are spending your days on former battlegrounds?
The War of 1812 was a significant battle because most of Washington D.C. was burned to the ground. The DC invasion was a retaliation tactic by the British, in response to American soldiers invading and burning Toronto – then called York.
The White House and US Capitol were burned, among various other government and public buildings. The British chose DC in particular, as they felt the impact of this attack would have serious political ramifications, and serve as a message to the Americans that their behavior would not be tolerated.
This war was the only time since the Revolutionary War that a foreign power was able to capture and hold the U.S. capital.
Washington didn’t have much strategic war value at this point. The British were hoping to take advantage of this weakness by exploiting that vulnerability.
When the troops assigned to destroy then President James Madison’s house entered his dining room, they discovered a large dining table set for 40 guests and ready for entertainment. Wine bottles were open but not yet poured, dishes and flatware were set and ready for use. They proceeded into the kitchen where they found pots and pans filled with food, still on the fire, warm and waiting to be served. It was obvious that the party had been abandoned at a moment’s notice when the guests heard that the city was being sacked by the British.
So, they did what any hungry soldier would do – they all sat down, had their fill of gourmet food and wine, then proceeded about setting fire to the house that had just provided them with an abundant meal.
The Senate’s house, the President’s Palace, the barracks, the dockyard, and storehouses with naval and military artillery were also victims of the fires that were set that day.
Reconstruction of the White House began in 1815 and was complete two years later, in time for the inauguration of James Monroe.
So next time you gaze out of the window from your DC office space to the Capitol and White House, take a moment to realize that you are standing on actual historic battleground.