8.30.2014

British return to, and sail from, St. Benedicts, MD


30 August 1814
British soldier G.R. Gleig recounts:

“…(return to St. Benedict’s and) ...the boats of the fleet being ready to receive us, the regiments, one by one, marched down to the beach. We found the shore covered with sailors from the different ships of war, who welcomed our arrival with loud cheers; and having contrived to bring up a larger flotilla than had been employed in the disembarkation, they removed us within a few hours, and without the occurrence of any accident, to our respective vessels.

We cannot deny to General Ross the praise which is his due, of having planned and successfully accomplished an expedition (to overpower Washington) which none but a sagacious mind could have devised, and none but a gallant spirit carried into execution. Among the many important transactions which then occupied the public attention, the campaign at Washington was, I believe, but little spoken of; and even now, it is overwhelmed in the recollections of the all-engrossing Waterloo; but the time will probably come, when he who at the head of four thousand men penetrated upwards of sixty miles into an enemy’s country; overthrew an army more than double his own in point of numbers; took possession of the capital of a great nation, and having held it as long as it suited his own purposes to hold it, returned again in triumph to his fleet, will be ranked, as he deserves to be ranked, among the number of those who have most successfully contributed to elevate Great Britain to the height of military glory on which she now stands…

It has been said that the entire merit of this …is due, not so much to the brave man who conducted it, as to Sir George Cockburn, at whose suggestion it was undertaken. To the great gallantry and high talents of(Cockburn) no one who served within the compass of the Bay of Chesapeake will refuse to bear testimony…. But with whomsoever the idea first originated, to General Ross belongs the undivided (praise)of having carried it into effect. From Sir George Cockburn, and indeed from the whole fleet, the army received every assistance which it was in the power of the fleet to bestow; but had not Ross been at the head of the land forces, the capital of the United States would have suffered no insult.”

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