August 25, 1814
Excerpts from the National Intelligencer concerning Admiral Cockburn’s activities before leaving Washington:
“After breakfast… A detachment of (British) troops marched from the Capitol Hill to the War Office, which they burned. Then they returned to the post office …the Patent Office was then under the post office roof…Dr. Thornton, then chief of the Patent Office, accompanied the detachment to the locked door of the repository, the key having been taken away by another clerk watching out of night. Axes and other implements …were used to break in, Thornton entreating…and finally prevailing on (British) Major Waters, superintending the destruction, to postpone until Thornton could see Colonel Jones, then engaged with Admiral Cockburn in destroying the office of the National Intelligencer…Colonel Jones had declared that it was not designed to destroy private property, which Dr. Thornton assured Major Waters, most of that in the patent office was. A curious musical instrument …saved the seat of government from removal for want of any building…Hundreds of models of the useful arts preserved in the office were of no avail to save it; but music softened the ruggedest breasts of the least musical of civilized people. Major Waters agreed at least to respite the patents and the musical instruments till his return from Greenleaf’s Point, where other objects were to be laid in ruins.
The Admiral (Cockburn) was merry in his grotesque rambles about Washington, mounted on a white…mare…in which caricature of horsemanship that harlequin of havoc paraded the streets and laughed at the terrified women…”Never fear,” said he to them, “you shall be much safer under my administration than Madison’s.” Aware that the editors of the National Intelligencer…were obnoxious to British vengeance…(Admiral Cockburn went to the office of the National Intelligencer) and, as at every other incendiary act, presided with characteristic brutality; not aware that the types were then set for a proclamation, intending to be issued by General Winder, denouncing British barbarities and rousing the people in mass to rally… and inflict that punishment on such inhuman enemies as the general himself failed to enforce. “Be sure,” said the admiral, superintending the destruction of the types with Vandal vengeance, “ that all the C’s are destroyed, so that the rascals can have no further means of abusing my name as they have done.” Then, nearly quoting language applied by the Federal Republican newspaper to the senior editor of the National Intelligencer, Joseph Gales, Esq., “I’ll punish Madison’s man, Joe,” said the Admiral, ”as I have his master, Jim (Madison).”