Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maps Battle of Bladensburg

On August 24, 1814 just across the river from Bladensburg, a British force under Major General Robert Ross defeated an American army under the command of William Winder attempting to defend the approaches to the city of Washington.  Several maps appeared in the aftermath of the battle, some as manuscripts describing the action and others in published accounts of the battle.

Ormsby 1816
This close-up of the town appears in a hand-drawn map located in the Library of Congress and  listed in its catalog as: Sketch of the action fought near Bladensberg [i.e. Bladensburg], August 24th, 1814 / Thos. Ormsby, Weedon, July 19th 1816.  Geography and Map Division: G3841.S42 1814 .O7 Vault.  Note the indication of a fortified house located near the bridge over the river.  Several accounts of the battle say that British troops took shelter behind a structure near the bridge after their first attempt to cross it was met by heavy fire from the Americans.

Another manuscript map drawn by a British officer, now in the Albert Small Collection at George Washington University provides less detail on structures, but does provide a better sense of the topography and the direction of the Congreve rockets used by the British.
Small 1814
In 1849, Edward D. Ingraham's A Sketch of the Events which Preceded the Capture of Washington, by the British, on the Twenty-Fourth of August, 1814 was published by Cary & Hart of Philadelphia.  This map of the battlefield continues to show the fortified house.

Ingraham 1849

In 1857, John S. Williams published his History of the Invasion and Capture of Washington, and the Events which Preceded and Followed with this map of the battlefield.

William 1857

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