If not for the Battle of Bladensburg, the Star-Spangled Banner wouldn't exist!

By Jim Foster, AWS President

Today is the 196th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg! Our George Washington House is “Ground Zero” for the Battle that saw a swift overrun of American defenders and the burning of the White House and Capitol six hours later. The MD State Highway Administration recently completed archeological excavations in and around Bladensburg including at the GW House in our parking lot. (see first link below for additional information and photos on their findings)

The British landed in Benedict, Md. on the Patuxent River in August of 1814. 4,500 soldiers marched through Upper Marlboro in incredible heat to Bladensburg. The two other bridges crossing the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, or Anacostia River as it is known today, had been destroyed. The Americans, commanded by Commodore Barney, had scuttled their ships at Pig Point on the Patuxent and moved to Bladensburg to defend the city. Barney was outgunned and out manned and then wounded on the hill that is now Fort Lincoln Cemetery. There were many killed and wounded.

The British troops left Washington and marched back through Bladensburg. There were many stragglers on the march back to Benedict in the heat and a certain Doctor Beanes arrested some of the stragglers. When the British General found out, he sent a contingent back to Upper Marlboro and arrested Dr. Beanes, brought him to Benedict in chains, and set sail for Baltimore. A friend of Dr. Beanes was asked to negotiate his release. To show good faith on the part of the Americans, Mr. Francis Scott Key, came to Bladensburg to obtain letters from the wounded British soldiers that they were being well cared for. Mr. Keyes then rode to the Bay and met the ship to negotiate the release of Dr. Beanes and was on the ship during the bombardment of Ft McHenry. It was then that the Star-Spangled Banner was penned.

We are working with other stakeholders to commemorate the Battle. We hope to find a visitor center, create several signature events and work with others to capitalize on the visitors that will come to the region.

Several 15 Star flags have been hung around the “neighborhood”. (see above photos) We are working to create a positive visitor experience and promote the community here as we recognize the Battle of Bladensburg in its historic context.

Happy August 24, 2010!

Some Interesting Resources
Bladensburg Archeology Project Blog

Battle of Bladensburg Marker

Anacostia Trails Heritage Area 1812 - website just launching!

Maryland State Star Spangled Banner Trail


If not for the Battle of Bladensburg, the Star-Spangled Banner

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