Hurricane of Providence Saved Washington DC and perhaps the Nation


Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

The war of 1812 began on this date in history when Congress declared war on Great Britain and President James Madison signed the measure into law. Why we call it the War of 1812 is lost on me because it wasn’t over until Christmas of 1814 and the biggest victory for the United States occurred after the war was over. Seems Andy Jackson and his boys in New Orleans didn’t get the news and met the British in a famous battle around Lake Borgne. The battle took place in January of 1815….so officially, one cannot say there was a battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 because it was 1815 and the war was over. But, since Cleveland had already taken the moniker “the mistake by the lake” I guess they had to call it something. Wouldn’t that be pretty bad luck if you fought and died for your country in a battle of a war that was already over?

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Now, not long before the war was over, Washington DC was in big trouble. On August 24, 1814, soldiers were racing alongside the civilians out of town in a panic. The British had landed 8 days prior with some 4000 battle-hardened troops who had seen plenty of action in the wars with Napoleon. The Americans were not experienced, not well trained and not well led. The President of the United States, James Madison came galloping through on a horse shouting “Clear Out! Clear Out!” When the Commander-In-Chief is telling everyone to haul-ass, then everyone listens. One of America’s proudest moments. Before his wife, Dolley Madison, left she grabbed a bunch of paintings including Gilbert Stuart’s famous painting of George Washington. Good thing she did.

Maj. Gen. Robert Ross Led The Men Into Washington and Led Them in a Hasty Retreat In the Face America's Secret Weapon

The Redcoats came marching into Washington expecting a defense. Instead, they faced but a single volley of musket fire. But, it was enough to get their attention because it killed one guy, wounded three others and took out the horse from under the commanding general. The Brits moved on to the Capitol, where again they expected a last stand. So, they fired a few rockets through the windows and storm trooper busted down the doors only to find the chirping of crickets. So, they set the place on fire. Then they set the White House on fire as well as the Treasury building. Major General Robert Ross, the commander, stopped by the newspaper National Intelligencer to pick up the scribe’s final paper that assured the residents that the city was safe. Yup…the press was right on that story and have been as accurate ever since. Anyway, Ross couldn’t get the paper into his pocket as a souvenir because he had already filled his pockets with some of Madison’s personal papers. The general shouted, “Damn It! My pocket is full of old Madison’s love letters!” That’s what he gets for looting.

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

The next day, a single maniac named John Lewis came charging at the British Army. He was the grandnephew of George Washington and it seems he was upset over his impressment into the Royal Navy. So, he went on a revenge binge only to get himself shot to death. There was another, more successful defender though. Dr. William Thornton ran the Patent Office and just as the soldiers were set to torch the building, he told the perpetrators that they would be no better than the barbarians who had put ablaze the Ancient Library of Alexandria. I suppose in shame, the Redcoats backed off and the Patent Office was saved. Then,  Divine Providence showed up.

Not Long After the British Burned the White House, a Hurricane Doused the Flames and Forced the Redcoats Backed to their Ships

The British tried to set fire to 150 barrels of gunpowder at an abandoned American fort. The nitwits ended up setting off the whole kit and kaboodle at once and killed 30 of their own men while wounding another 44. Seems these guys were their own worst enemy. Then the wind picked up and the rain started to fall in buckets. Just in the nick of time before the entire city was burned to the ground, a hurricane showed up. The fires were put out and Ross ordered a full scale retreat back to their ships.   The British never returned and Washington DC was saved from total destruction by this so-called “Hurricane of Providence.”   Just because the British evacuated Washington DC doesn’t mean that they were done.  Somehow their ships were spared the wrath of the hurricane because less than a month later, they attempted to invade Baltimore but they were not able to fully penetrate the city’s defense or destroy Fort McHenry that guarded Baltimore Harbor.  It was during the bombardment of Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words to what became known as the Star Spangled Banner.   And guess who was also involved in that attack?  Why none other than Maj. Gen. Robert Ross was a key figure in the adventure of Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore.  So, without the Hurricane of Providence, maybe there would not have been a Star Spangled Banner.  But, this national intervention of Divinity didn’t save everything.   While the city was saved, the Patent Office that Dr. Thornton so skillfully saved wasn’t as lucky. The roof blew off. Perhaps Dr. Thornton missed church that week. 

Weather Bottom Line:   It’s going to be hot and humid over the weekend; similar to what we saw last weekend.  There will the tail end of a front coming and sitting down on top of us by Sunday.  The difference between this weekend and last weekend is that there is not nearly the number of shortwaves wandering through the flow, so the prospects of rain and t’storms is diminished.  The NAM wants to have a wave pass on Saturday bringing us an elevated chance for rain and t’storms on Saturday afternoon while the GFS favors a shortwave passing to the north and an appendange far enough south to increase our prospects on Sunday afternoon.  Since the boundary will be closer to us or even over us on Sunday, I would favor it as the better prospect.  Just keep in mind that, should you find yourself under an isolated or scattered t’storm it will have the potential to drop a pretty fair amount of rain given the moisture content of the air.

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6 Responses

  1. Incredible story

  2. Good job- the hurricane, accompanied by a tornado, knocked some Redcoats clear into the air, and when they withdrew from Washington, they appeared to be a defeated army, though they had met little human resistance!

  3. When the Redcoats entered the abandoned Capitol Building , they staged a mock session, toasted President Madison, then burned the place down. Much of the mayhem was retribution for the Americans attempting to burn the Canadian Parliament earlier.

  4. Thank you for your comments. Feel free to stop by and add to the discussion any time.

  5. The Battle of New Orleans was fought DURING the War of 1812. The treaty was not ratified until February 1815 and ratification of the treaty is what resulted in the war being over.Saying that the Battle of New Orleans was not fought during the War of 1812 is just continuing false information!

  6. While technically, there is truth in what you say, pragmatically it is misleading, particularly the last sentence. If you hold true, you must rant and rave and say that it is false information for anyone to say that the Revolution was over after Yorktown because the Treaty of Paris was not signed for two years and the British Army didn’t leave until 1783. History records that the Mexican Army surrendered in early 1848 but in your volume…it wasn’t over until May 1848 when the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified. Of course, you must insist that, for the US, World War I was never over because, while there was an Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles was never ratified by the US. World War II went on in your back yard much longer than the rest of the world. While Germany and Japan signed articles of surrender in 1945, there was no treaty until the 1950s and the Treaty on the Final Settlment with Regard to Germany that recognized Germany as a sovereign nation and all claims by the Allied Nations was not signed until 1990 and did not take effect until 1991. So, you must then say that it is false to say that World War II was really over until 1991. http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/2plusfour8994e.htm Methinks that Germany did not complete its World War I reparations to the “Great Powers” until the late 1990s. North and South Korea are officially in a state of War as we speak…so you must argue that there is in fact a war continuing in Korea! The Gulf War was never really over…there were articles of a cessation of hostilities under terms..such as the no fly zone…really you could say that the second go around that took out Saddam was really a continuation of the previous engagement as Iraq did not live up to the terms so the US resumed hostilities.

    Do you see how your argument and position opens a whole can of worms? I do appreciate your stopping by but, after much fun at your expense, I must say that I disagree though concede that, I suppose techincally you might be correct…though then you would have to also say that at 9am on Dec 7 1941 we were not at war with Japan until the next day when, retroactively, Congress made such a declaration. And, of course, there was no war in Vietnam…yet there was a treaty.

    Thanx again for contributing.

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