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British Lieutenant Inventories Ammunition and Ordnance Taken from Americans in Burning of Washington
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Royal Artillery Lieutenant Thomas G. T. Williams compiled this list of ordnance and ammunition that the British Army seized from the Americans in their march toward Washington, at the Battle of Bladensburg, and in the capture of the American capital of Washington, D.C. It also notes that Americans destroyed a great deal of ammunition and ordnance as they abandoned Washington to the British. A few days later, the British would have less success against American forces at Baltimore and Fort McHenry. Four months later, 23-year-old Williams died of yellow fever outside of New Orleans.

[BURNING OF WASHINGTON, DC.]. Thomas G. T. Williams, Copy of Manuscript Document Signed, August 25, 1814, Washington, D.C. 2 pp., 8⅛ x 13½ in.

Inventory #27323.03       Price: $2,000

Complete Transcript
Return of Ordinance, Ammunition, and Ordinance Stores taken from the Enemy by the Army under the Command of Major General Robert Ross, between the 19th & 25th Augt 1814

19 August 1814

1               24 Pr Carronade

22 August 1814

            1          6 Pr Field Gun with carriage complete

            156      Stand of Arms, with cartouches &c &c

24th August at Bladensburg

2          18  Pr  }

5          12   ʺ   } with field carriages complete

3            6   ʺ   }

A quantity of Ammunition for the above

220 stand of Arms

25 August at Washington

            { 6       18 Pr Mounted on traversing Platforms

            { 5       12 ʺ

Brass   { 4       4  ʺ

            { 1       5½ Inch Howitzer

            { 1       5½ Inch Mortar

26        32 Pr

            36        24  ʺ

            34        18  ʺ

            27        12  ʺ

              2        18  ʺ mounted on traversing Platforms

            19        12  ʺ on Ships Carriages

             3         13 Inch Mortars

             2         8 Inch Howitzers

             1         42 Pr Gun

             5         32 Pr Carronade

             5         18 Pr       do

            13        12 Pr Guns

              2        9 Pr    do

              2        6 Pr    do <2>

            500 Barrels of Powder

            100-000 Rounds of Musquet Ball Cartridge

            40 Barrels of fine grained powder

            A large quantity of Ammunition of different Nature made up.

            The Navy Yards and Arsenal having been set on fire by the Enemy before they retired, an immense quantity of Stores of every description was destroyed, of which no account could be taken.

            Seven or eight very heavy explosions during the night denoted, that there had been large Magazines of Powder.

J Mitchell                                                        (signed) Thos T. Williams Lieut

                                                                        A Qr M Royal Artillery

[Docketing:] Return of Ordinance Ammunition and Ordinance Stores taken from the Enemy between 19th and 25 August 1814

Historical Background
Although the British had declared a blockade of the American coast early in the War of 1812, most of the first two years of fighting took place along the American-Canadian border. In mid-1814, the British shifted their attention southward and sent an expeditionary force into the Chesapeake Bay.

Led by Major General Robert Ross (1766-1814) and Admiral Alexander Cochrane (1758-1832), the British moved up the Patuxent River and landed at Benedict on August 19, 1814. They began marching upstream the following day, reaching Nottingham on August 21, and forcing American defenders to destroy the gunboats of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla on August 22. Ross proceeded up the Patuxent to Upper Marlboro, from which he could threaten either Washington or Baltimore.

On August 24, 1814, the British force of 1,500 army regulars and Royal Marines faced a combined force of nearly 7,000 Regular Army and state militia troops at Bladensburg, Maryland. The British routed the American defenders, clearing the way to the capital, only eight miles away. Later that day, the British entered Washington, D.C. and burned most government buildings to the ground, including the Executive Mansion and the Capitol. (Fortunately, President James Madison had heeded James Monroe’s advice; at the last minute, clerks at the State Department stuffed the records of the Confederation and Continental Congresses, George Washington’s papers as Commander of the Continental Army, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution into coarse linen sacks and carted them to Virginia, out of harm’s way.) Although Rear Admiral George Cockburn (1772-1853) wanted to burn the entire city of Washington, Major General Ross refused and prohibited his soldiers from destroying private property. A few days later, Alexandria, Virginia, a major port on the Potomac River, surrendered without a fight.

The British forces left Washington and sailed up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they attempted a combined assault with army troops landing at North Point and a naval force proceeding up the Patapsco River. The Americans met them with well-organized resistance and strong fortifications. A sniper killed General Ross early in the engagement, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor was a failure. The British retreated, providing the Americans with a victory and a powerful boost to morale after the destruction of Washington.

Thomas Gregory Townshend Williams (1791-1814) was born in Nova Scotia Canada and served in the Royal Artillery under the Duke of Wellington on the Peninsula and in France. He died of yellow fever on December 28, 1814, shortly before the Battle of New Orleans.

Robert Ross (1766-1814) was born in Ireland to an officer in the Seven Years' War and his wife. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and joined the 25th Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1789. He fought as a junior officer in the Napoleonic Wars, including the Peninsular War, rising to the rank of colonel. He was seriously wounded in February 1814 at the Battle of Orthez in southwestern France. Soon after recovering, Ross was given command of an expeditionary force against the United States. He sailed to North America as a major general and took charge of all British troops on the east coast of the United States. He led the British in the Battle of Bladensburg and subsequent capture and burning of Washington, D.C. He then turned his attention to Baltimore. When directing his troops in the opening stages of the Battle of Baltimore, Ross was shot by an American sharpshooter and died while being transported back to the British fleet.

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