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Whilst I remained at Washington, I often rallied the citizens upon their want of courage and conduct in defending the city, when invaded by the British. This was differently received by the different classes to whom it was directed: the humbler rank repelled the charge with spirit, laying the blame on their superiors, particularly Armstrong, the secretary of war, in unqualified terms, expressly charging him with treachery. "Oh," said they," the city was sold, no doubt of it, because when application was made to him to put the city in a posture of defence, and arm the militia, he replied, no danger, the British will never come here." Some had it," that Gen. Cockburn was in the city in disguise, several days before the invasion; that he was seen sitting in the garb of an old woman, upon the steps of the war office." The more thinking part of the citizens, allege that it was unavoidable, in consequence of the blockade of the Chesapeake by the British, which confined Commodore Barney in the Patuxent, and fairly acknowledged that they sought their safety in flight. I had the particulars of the disaster from one of the citizens as follows:-"That several weeks before the invasion, all the money and records were sent out of the city, to a rplace of safety: that the first intelligence of the approach of the British, was, that they had landed, and were on their march towards Washington, and Gen. Winder was endeavouring to arrest their progress, by. hanging on their rear. This being the state of affairs, and the British expected every minute, a man on horseback kept a constant lookout; he would advance in the direction of the enemy, and after reconnoitering, would egallop back and report the result to the citizens. This H was kept up about three days: meantime, all that were able and willing to bear arms, repaired to the scene of danger, under Gen. Winder. Commodore Barney hav ying travelled by land, joined the army.
At length the direful day arrived, and the roaring of
appeared to participate in our pleasure, as he regaled himself at his ease on the most delicious hay. This house stands near the navy yard. Her father's name was Slater.
cannon announced the battle of Bladensburg. The British, however, met with a warm reception from Commodore Barney, until his horse was killed under him, and he severely wounded. All was then over; Gen. Winder then ordered the men to "retreat to a bet ter position." No sooner was the word given than the whole of the militia betook themselves to flight, ma king for the heights of Georgetown. Many of them never stopped running, until they arrived at Montgome. ry court-house. They ran with such swiftness, that they never stopped to comfort their wives and children, but left them exposed to the mercy of the British and the negroes. Not a man was to be found in the city, with the exception of a few old men who were unable to run away. It was not long after the cannon ceased firing at Bladensburg, before the British made their appear ance in Washington! Here was a scene of terror and dismay. The women and children, frightened out of their wits, ran to and fro, expecting to be massacred or some worse thing, and not a man to protect them. In the height of this dilemma, Gen. Ross rode through the city, intreating the women not to be alarmed, that no harm was intended to them; "Stay in your houses la dies," said he," and no one shall molest you." He was as good as his word; not a female was insulted or molested in the slightest manner by the army. Meantime they fired the capitol, the President's house, and all the public buildings. Commodore Tingey, who had the care of the navy yard, put his family in a boat, and after rowing them off from the shore, set fire to the navy-yard himself, to save the British the trouble. Amongst the property consumed was a valuable ship of war, just fin ished. The citizens set fire to the bridge themselves, (a wise action) to prevent the British from going to Al exandria. The smoke from these fires, and the dust raised by such numbers, filled the city with such a cloud of darkness as nearly excluded the light of day.
But the best of the story is that part of it which relates to the magazine. A party of the British were dispatch. ed with orders to blow it up. Near to the magazine was a dry well, in which was a large quantity of powder con.
cealed. After laying the train for the magazine, one of the men, who was standing over the well, twisted off a part of the match which he still held in his hand, and threw it down into the well. This, which was the actual magazine, blew the unconscious man, with about e fifty of his companions into the air, the most of whom were torn to atoms: some were never seen afterwards, some fell into the Potomac, and some were lodged in trees-one, in particular, was lodged in a peach-tree without receiving much injury, and is now living in thẹ city.
The day that succeeded the invasion, was equally hostile to the peace of the inhabitants. It was distingnished by the most tremendous storm ever witnessed in the memory of man: trees were torn up by the roots, houses unroofed and overturned, and the people tossed to and fro. The British, who were still in the city, became alarmed and embarked precipitately. The lady from whom I had the relation, said she was walking out on the morning after the destruction, and fell in with a party of the British officers before she was aware, when one of them accosted her with "Good morning, madam -dreadful times." "Yes, sir," said she, and passed on. During the storm, some of the officers took shelter in her house, and one of them observed to the other, "that the wind had like to have blown him to h-l."— Here, as well as at Alexandria, they turned out the coffee and the sugar into the streets, for the benefit of the poor and the negroes, taking no more than they wanted for their immediate use. They killed a number of cows, pigs, poultry, &c.-One of the officers making a false pass at an old gander, whose head he aimed to cut off with his sword, told a little drummer, who was standing near, to put down his drum and catch the gander: the woman to whom the gander belonged, ran up to him, saying, "you little son of a bh, if you touch it I'll break your drum over your head." The drummer, however, was obliged to obey his superior, and pursued the gander; the woman set off likewise, and the race was a tight one; the woman, however, prevailed, and rescued the gander, to the great amusement of the officers.
A number of ludicrous anecdotes are related of our men, when retreating before the British, after the battle of Bladensburgh. A man of high repute (the doors keeper) ran with such speed that the bushes took off the skirt of his coat. Then comes Mr. H. in a hack,, mor. tally wounded-"heavens! where, where?""in the thigh!"-while some as resolutely affirmed it was in the leg! "Poor man, what is to become of his wife and children?" A surgeon examines him, when lo! he is not touched!-not a drop of blood, nor the smell of powder upon him! Another man, in loading a gun with canister, put in the cartridge which contained the shot first, and in his efforts to correct the mistake, dismounted the gun, and had to leave it behind. The President, (whom our western boys cursed no heartily.) did go into the ranks like a man, and remained with the army some minutes, at least, until some of his friends advised him to take better care of himself, which he did. The memory of Gen. Ross is much respected in Washington, on account of his gentlemanly conduct toward the females. The property destroyed by the British was estimated at $1,031,541.
The citizens of Washington look forward with pleas ing anticipation to the accomplishment of the Ohio and Chesapeake canal, and much interest seems to be staked upon its success. It is thought by some, that ten years at most, will bring about this happy event.
The capital lacks a great deal of being finished; although a number of hands (200) are constantly at work upon it, it is thought it will take twenty years to com plete it. It would astonish any one to see the immensity of stone lying about it, (one would think enough to build another capitol,) which remains to be put somewhere, but it would puzzle Apollo to tell where. They are now at work upon the Library, which when finished will be the most splendid apartment in the capitol. I confess it is not in my power to do justice to this part of the edifice; the artist appears to have reserved the ulti matum of his skill for this repository of the literati: he seems to have exhausted the treasury of taste in decorating it with wreaths and flowers of the finest stucco.
ur The west colonade is finished in a style of unrivalled beauty; it consists of ten vast columns. But the colT umns which are to form the colonade for the east portie co, are objects of great admiration. They are brought [- by water from a quarry of freestone about thirty miles below the city, and are very large, weighing eighteen ne tons each. They are brought from the wharf by the nd workmen, without the aid of horses, upon a strong carisriage, made for the purpose-and an hundred men pull of one with ease. This is quite a frolic for the men; and h sometimes the members of congress will turn out in the otevening to assist in pulling "the big waggon," as it is ed called, and join in all the pleasantry to which the novt,elty of the thing gives rise. When the column arrives to at the capitol, it is cheered by loud huzzas from an hunmered voices. The cost of the two wings destroyed by m the British, was $290,000. The centre building, which comprises the rotunda and the great centre dome, will cost $400,000. The rotunda is supported by forty-four columns.
When congress adjourns* for the session, one half the city goes into mourning, and the other half shout for joy. The first, it will naturally be guessed, comprise nd my old friends who board the members, (and perhaps a ed few of the fair sex,)-the latter are those who are rers lieved from a most oppressive market.
Gen. La Fayette.-I cannot take leave of Washinglton, without bestowing a few remarks upon our illustrirk ous guest, whose visit took place while I was there. His arrival in the United States, so soon as it was known in i-Washington, was announced by the artillery of the navy to yard, and the whole city rung with acclamations of joy. Meantime the citizens were divided into companies, distinguished by different uniforms, and kept in coned tinual training, with a view of receiving the General with Imilitary honours. The newspapers furnished daily acof counts of his movements, and long before he arrived we ti.
*I omitted to state, in the proper place, that when Congress assem bles in the morning for business, the national flag is hoisted over the capitol, and remains so till they adjourn in the evening, when the fag is taken down and so on through the session.