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Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fiery Destruction

 

—Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail —

 
Fiery Destruction Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
1. Fiery Destruction Marker
Inscription. “[The British] put a slow match to the [Sewall] house … and those rockets burst until … they made the rafters fly East and West.” — Enslaved African American diarist and eyewitness, Michael Shiner.

As the British marched along B Street (today's Constitution Avenue) on August 24, 1814, to burn the U.S. Capitol, they passed this house, owned by Robert Sewall. Suddenly shots rang out. Two British soldiers were dead, several were wounded, and Major General Ross's horse was shot out from under him. the British rushed into Sewall's house but found no snipers. In retaliation, they set fire to the house, one of the city's finest. When the invasion ended, Sewall's was one of the few private structures destroyed by the British. The family rebuilt here after peace returned.

Torching the Capitol

After burning Sewall's house, the British resumed their march to the Capitol. There they planted the Union Jack and set fire to the not-yet-complete structure.

In the summer of 1814 the United States had been at war with Great Britain for two years. Battlefronts had erupted from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. On August 24, following their victory over the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, British troops marched on Washington with devastating results.

The
Fiery Destruction Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
2. Fiery Destruction Marker
Star-Spangled Banner Historic Trail reveals sites of the War of 1812 in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland. Visit ChesapeakeExplorerApp.com or download the Chesapeake Explorer App.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism D.C.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.534′ N, 77° 0.217′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 2nd Street, NE and Constitution Avenue, NE, on the right when traveling south on 2nd Street, NE. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Alva Belmont House (a few steps from this marker); Residence of Albert Gallatin (a few steps from this marker); The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); From June to December, 1917 (within shouting distance of this marker); Cortelyou House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old Brick Capitol (about 800 feet away); Frederick Douglass (approx. 0.2 miles away); United States Capitol (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
 
Also see . . .
The Capitol image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
3. The Capitol
A view of the North Senate Wing of the unfinished U.S. Capitol as it appeared in 1800.
Close-up of William Russell Birch watercolor on marker
 144 Constitution Avenue. (Submitted on February 15, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
 
Categories. African AmericansNotable EventsWar of 1812
 
Invasion Route image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
4. Invasion Route
British troops entered Washington from the east following their victory at Bladensburg. After burning the Capitol they continued west and burned the President's House. Their route is marked in red on this 1802 map. The map shows streets planned for the city, but not all of them existed in 1814.
Close-up of map on marker
Sewall-Belmont House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
5. Sewall-Belmont House
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on February 15, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 385 times since then and 58 times this year. Last updated on August 29, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 15, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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