Captain Barney reports on the Battle of Bladensburg:
CAPTAIN JOSHUA BARNEY, FLOTILLA SERVICE, TO SECRETARY OF THE NAVY JONES
Farm at Elk ridge August 29th 1814
Farm at Elk ridge August 29th 1814
This is the first moment I have had it in my power to make a report of the proceedings of the forces under my command since I had the honor of seeing you on Tuesday the 23d at the Camp at the "Old fields," on the afternoon of that day we were informed that the Enemy was advancing upon us.
General Winder came to my Quarters and we made some arrangements. In the morning I received a note from General Winder and waited upon him, he requested me to take command, and place my Artillery to defend the passage of the Bridge on the Eastern Branch as the enemy was approaching the City in that direction, I immediately put my guns in Position, leaving the Marines & the rest of my men at the Barracks to wait further orders.
I was in this situation when I had the honor to meet you, with the President & heads of Departments, when it was determined I should draw off my Guns & men and proceed towards Bladensburgh, which was Immediately put into execution; on our way I was informed the enemy was within a mile of Bladensburgh. We hurried on, The day was hot, and my men very much crippled from the severe marches we had experienced the preceding days before, many of them being without (?), which I had replaced that morning, I preceded the men and when I arrived at the line which separates the District from Maryland the Battle began. I sent an officer back to hurry on my men, they came up in a trot, we took our position on the rising ground, put the pieces in Battery, posted the Marines under Capt, Miller and the flotilla men who were to act as Infantry under their own officers, on my right to support the pieces, and waited the approach of the Enemy.
During this period the engagement continued the enemy advancing,— our own Army retreating before them apparently in much disorder, at length the enemy made his appearance on the main road, in force, and in front of my Battery, and on seeing us made a halt, I reserved our fire, in a few minutes the enemy again advanced, when I ordered an 18 lb. to be fired, which completely cleared the road, shortly after a second and a third attempt was made by the enemy to come forward but all were destroyed.
The enemy then crossed over into an Open field and attempted to flank our right, he was there met by three twelve pounders, the Marines under Capt. Miller and my men acting as Infantry, and again was totally cut up. By this time not a Vestige of the American Army remained except a body of 5 or 600 posted on a height on my right from whom I expected much support, from their fine situation, The Enemy from this period never appeared in force in front of us, they pushed forward their sharp shooters, one of which shot my horse under me, who fell dead between two of my Guns; The enemy who had been kept in check by our fire for nearly half an hour now began to out flank upon the right, our guns were turned that way, he pushed up the Hill, about 2 or 300 towards the Corps of Americans stationed as above described, who, to my great mortification made no resistance, giving a fire or two and retired.
In this situation we had the whole army of the Enemy to contend with; Our Ammunition was expended, and unfortunately the drivers of my Ammunition Wagons had gone off in the General Panic, at this time I received a severe wound in my thigh, Capt. Miller, was Wounded, Sailing Master Warner Killed, acting Sailing Master Martin Killed, & sailing Master Martin wounded, but to the honour of my officers & men, as fast as their Companions & mess mates fell at the guns they were instantly replaced from the Infantry. Finding the enemy now completely in our rear and no means of defence I gave orders to my officers and men to retire.
Three of my officers assisted me to get off a Short distance—but the great loss of blood occasioned such a weakness that I was compelled to lie down. I requested my officers to leave me, which they obstinately refused, but upon being Ordered they obeyed, one only remained. In a short time I observed a British soldier and had him called, and directed him to seek an officer. In a few minutes an officer came, on learning who I was, brought General Ross & Admiral Cockburn to me.
Those officers behaved to me with the most marked Attention, respect, and Politeness, had a Surgeon brought and my wound dressed immediately, After a few minutes conversation the General Informed me, (after paying me a handsome compliment) that I was paroled and at liberty to proceed to Washington or Bladensburgh, as also Mr. Huffington who had remained with me, offering me every assistance in his power, giving orders for a litter to be brought in which I was carried to Bladensburgh;
Capt. Wainwright first Capt. to Admiral Cochrane remained with me and behaved to me as if I was a brother.
During the stay of the enemy at Bladensburgh I received the most polite attention from the officers of the Navy & Army.
My wound is deep, but I flatter myself not dangerous, the Ball is not yet extracted. I fondly hope a few weeks will restore me to health, and that an exchange will take place, that I may resume my Command or any other, that you and the President may think proper to honour me with.