1814--The Burning of the White House
The next afternoon Captain Fletcher told Mr. Bryant to muster the crew and Charley joined them, standing apart from the ranks of seamen.
When they were all assembled, he looked out over the assortment of Yankee privateers and their British doctor and said, “Men, I have news from home.”
He waited for the murmurs to die down.
“I received correspondence on St. Martin that I wish to share with you. Last August, while we were at sea fighting for the rights of sailors and free Americans, the British burned our nation’s capital, Washington City.”
Now the mutters from the men were angry as they shifted their feet and looked at one another. The Americans had burned York in Canada, and Great Britain might be justified in saying it’s tit for tat to burn the Americans’ capital, but Charley just scratched her ear and wisely refrained from pointing that out.
Plus, Captain Fletcher was still speaking.
“But take heart, men, just as your countrymen did! America cannot be frightened into submission!” He waved a paper. “I have here the account of the battle of Baltimore and the glorious defense of Fort McHenry! The nation still stands strong, boys, and will never bow to tyrants! A cheer for the United States of America, and an extra ration of rum tonight for its gallant heroes!”
The men threw their hats into the air while cheering, “Huzzah for the United States!”
Charley slipped quietly back to sick bay, leaving the Americans to their celebration, and wondering again what would become of a British surgeon held on an American vessel during wartime.
Today's the anniversary of the capture and burning of the new US capital of Washington, District of Columbia. This is when First Lady Dolley Madison famously saved the iconic portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.
If you'd like to know more about this pivotal period in American history, or learn what happened to a captured British surgeon, you can enjoy Sea Change for 25% off until the end of the month at Smashwords with discount code BV79D.