9.27.2014

Report of Admiral Cochrane on the Battle of Bladensburg & burning of Washington


September 27, 1814
London Gazette newspaper report:
Admiralty – office Sept. 27 – Captain Wainwright, of the Tonnant, arrived this morning with dispatches from vice-Adm. The Hon. Sir A. Cochrane, of which the following are copies:
Tonnant, in the Patuxent, September 2
Sir, I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of my Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty, of the proceedings of his Majesty’s Combined Sea and Land Forces since my arrival with the fleet within the Capes of Virginia; and I beg leave to offer my congratulations to their Lordships upon the successful termination of an Expedition, in which the whole of the Enemy’s flotilla, under Commodore Barney, has been captured or destroyed; his army, though greatly superior in number, and strongly posted, with cannon, defeated at Bladensburg – the city of Washington taken, the capital, with all the public buildings, military arsenals, dock yard and the rest of their naval establishments, together with a vast quantity of naval and military stores, a frigate of the largest class ready to launch and a sloop of war afloat, either blown up or reduced to ashes. – Such a series of successes in the centre of an Enemy’s country, surrounded by a numerous population, could not be acquired without loss; …..but, considering the difficulties the forces had to contend with, the extreme heat of the climate and their coming into action at the end of a long march, our casualties are astonishingly few. ….. the Rear Admiral joined me on the 17th, and as I had gained information from Read –adm. Cockburn, whom I found in the Potowmack, that commodore Barney, with the Baltimore flotilla, had taken shelter at the head of the Patuxent, this afforded a pretext for ascending that river to attack him near its source, above Pig Point, while the ultimate destination of the combined force was Washington, should it be found that the attempt might be made with any prospect of success…..I send a sketch of the country upon which the movements of the army and navy are portrayed; …will observe that the best approach to Washington is by Port Tobacco upon the Potowmack, and Benedict upon the Patuxent, from both of which are direct and good roads to that city, and their distances nearly alike………Previously to my entering the Patuxent, I detached Capt. Gordon, of his Majesty’s ship Seahorse, with that ship, and the ships and bombs named…. up the Potowmack, to bombard fort Washington…..with a view of destroying that fort…..
Capt. Sir Peter Parker, in the Menelaus, with some small vessels, was sent up the Chesapeake, above Baltimore, to divert the attention of the Enemy in that quarter; and I proceeded with the remainder of the naval force and the troops up this river and landed the army upon the 19th and 20th at Benedict…… Ross moved toward Nottingham, while our flotilla,…under the command of Rear admiral Cockburn, passed up the river…Calvert County, which secured a safe retreat to the ships, should it be judged necessary. – The army reached Nottingham upon the 21st, and on the following day arrived at Marlborough; the flotilla continued advancing toward the station of Commodore Barney, about three miles above Pig Point, who, although much superior in force to that sent against him, did not wait an attack, but at the appearance of our boats, set fire to his flotilla, and the whole of his vessels, excepting one, were blown up. For the particulars of this well-executed service, I must refer their Lordships to read adm Cockburn’s report No. 1…  I have not yet received any return from the ships employed in the Potowmack, the winds having been unfavorable to their coming down; but by the information I gain from the country people, they have completely succeeded in the capture and destruction of Fort Washington, which has been blown up…..
Alex. Cochrane, vice Admiral and Commander in chief

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