200th Anniversary of War of 1812 Battle of Bladensburg

or How the Washington Glass School is Tied to the War of 1812, The Brits Sacking the White House & The Star Spangled Banner.

This is a re-run of a Blog Post from 2012 – as the Bicentennial of the 1814 Battle of Bladensburg is this August 24th – it is a fitting reminder of where we began.

The British burn the President's Mansion 1814
The British burn the President’s Mansion 1814

One of the beauties of being in Washington, DC is the sense of history that surrounds the place. Growing up in northwest suburban Chicago, history seemed to have started after WWII, with suburban subdivisions overtaking farmland. Here, the area is so steeped with the history that appears in grade school books, that important – but deemed lesser – sites can be forgotten; the scurf of yesterdays. As the Maryland area celebrates the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, it is interesting to note that the Washington Glass School building sits atop an important battlefield – one of the key parts in the Battle of Bladensburg. With the US loss at this battle, British forces swept into Capitol Hill and burned the White House, the Capitol and the Treasury.
Since there are no signs on this site – this blog will act as a virtual ‘historical marker”.

Historical Overview

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the United States of America and the British Empire. In these battles, the British set off their new weapon – the Congreve rocket – a rocket carrying about one pound of powder that could travel almost 1,000 yards and their success had a tremendous impact on modern warfare.

After the defeat and exile of Napoleon in April 1814, the British were able to send newly available troops and ships to the war with the United States. On August 20, 1814, over 4,500 seasoned British troops landed at the little town of Benedict, MD and marched fifty miles towards Capitol Hill.

Artists Rendering of the Battle of Bladensburg (Gerry Embleton-Courtesy NPS/Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail)

Artists Rendering of the Battle of Bladensburg
(Gerry Embleton-Courtesy NPS/Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail)

What Went Wrong

Incorrect deductions that were drawn gave the Americans the impression that Baltimore was their destination. General Armstrong could not be convinced that Washington would be the target of the invasion and not Baltimore, an important center of commerce. There was much confusion trying to outguess the British.  In Bladensburg,MD, American troops began to be assembled by Brigadier General William Winder, the Secretary of War, John Armstrong, as well as the Secretary of State, James Monroe. General Smith, another American commander, used his aide – Francis Scott Key – to assemble his troops. Calvary units were positioned to the right of the main road (now called Bladensburg Ave.), while the first and second American lines were positioned nearly a 1/2 mile apart from each other. The organization (and constant second guessing by commanders) of the troops, the general concern about the size of the British army, and the lack of preparation by the rag-tag militia would eventually lead to the undoing of the hastily assembled group.

Current day map showing US troop positions in Battle of Bladensburg

Current day map showing US troop positions in Battle of Bladensburg

As the British entered the town, they were greeted by the American troops firing the first volleys across the Eastern Branch of the Potomac (now called Anacostia River). The British initially fell back and moved behind the masonry buildings in Bladensburg. Soon though, the British set off their new weapon – the Congreve rocket. These rockets would eventually become the famous “rocket’s red glare.” British troops began to return fire as the rockets burst above the Americans. American leaders on the first line, unclear on their support from the second line, ordered retreat. American soldiers began to fall back and leave the field via the Georgetown Pike (now Bunker Hill Road). The second line, (positioned approximately at the modern 40th - 38th Avenue) and the members of the Cabinet left the field of battle at or before this point. Cannons were left behind, soldiers moved in haphazard movements responding to the need to fight and the orders for retreat. General chaos reigned across the field of battle.

Commodore Joshua Barney - painted by Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827)

Commodore Joshua Barney – painted by Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827)

The strongest attack against the British was made by Commodore Joshua Barney and his seasoned Floatillamen. At Dueling Creek, Kramer’s Militia (troops from Montgomery and Prince George’s County) fought hard against the British but eventually retreated up the hill past Commodore Barney’s men.  Barney’s men were valiant fighters, however, the authorities in Washington “forgot” Barney for several days. Without orders, he and his men arrived in the midst of the battle. Combined with Captain Miller’s Marines, Barney fired down the hill toward the British, causing significant British casualties. British troops were ordered into a single file line, flanking  Barney’s troop placement and overtaking them. Commodore Barney, after having had his horse killed under him in battle, was severely wounded by a musket ball “near a living fountain of water on the estate of the late Mr. Rives, which was later known as Barney’s Spring“ Benson Lossing, Field-book of the War 0f 1812, Chapter 39, 1869

General Winder ordered a general retreat. The retreat order was never passed to Barney’s command, but with no ammunition, flanked on the right and deserted on the left, the Commodore knew that the end had come. He ordered the guns spiked and the men to retreat. The officers and men who were able to march effected the retreat; but the Commodore’s wound rendered him unable to move, and he was made prisoner. He died shortly after; but not before he was able to have influence on Francis Scott Key in his efforts to compose the Star Spangled Banner.

The building that houses the Washington Glass School is located on the site (now near the intersection of Oak and Otis Street).

Then & Today Left inset: Engraving (ca. 1860) of battlefield site where Joshua Barney fell by Benson Lossing in "Field Book of the War of 1812 " ; Right: Washington Glass School on the same site. Over the past 200 years, the topography has been modified and changed tremendously - the creek now flows under the concrete pathway opposite the Glass School.

Then & Today
Left inset: Engraving (ca. 1860) of battlefield site where Joshua Barney fell by Benson Lossing in “Field Book of the War of 1812 ” ; Right: Washington Glass School on the same site. Over the past 200 years, the topography has been modified and changed tremendously – the creek now flows under the concrete pathway opposite the Glass School.

Immediately after the battle, the British sent an advance guard of soldiers to Capitol Hill. The President’s house was burned, and the British raised their Union Flag over Washington.

The Brits pillage the White House.

The Brits pillage the White House.

The First Lady Dolley Madison remained behind to organize the slaves and staff to save valuables from the British.  The buildings housing the Senate and House of Representatives were set ablaze not long after. The interiors of both buildings, which held the Library of Congress, were destroyed, although their thick walls and a torrential rainfall that was caused by a hurricane the following day preserved the exteriors.

During the war of 1812 when the British attacked Washington DC, The First Lady, Dolley Madison stayed behind in the White House to save the artifacts and symbols of America. The engraving above shows her saving the Declaration of Independence.

During the war of 1812 when the British attacked Washington DC, The First Lady, Dolley Madison stayed behind in the White House to save the artifacts and symbols of America. The engraving above shows her saving the Declaration of Independence.

With their mission accomplished, the British feared the Americans would reassemble their forces and attack while they were in the vulnerable position of being a long distance from their fleet. The men were miserable in the sweltering temperatures. They were tired, ill and wounded. At dusk the troops quietly withdrew from the city. The troops were so exhausted that many died of fatigue on the four day march back to the ships, several deserted, but the body of men marched on. 

wgs.4th.julySeveral of the British stragglers and deserters were arrested by citizens in Maryland. When the British commanders learned of the incident, they sent a small force back to arrest William Beanes, a well respected doctor and town elder. Following his arrest, Georgetownlawyer Francis Scott Key and U.S. Agent for Prisoner Exchange John S. Skinner went to secure Bean’s release from the British. They brought with them letters from British troops who testified as to the compassion that they received while in Bladensburg after the battle.  Brought on board one of the British vessels, Francis Scott Key would see the battle in Baltimore raging on and the flag standing at the end of the battle, leading to the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Times have changed, and we now rely on the Brits as an important and trusted ally – however -the next time representatives from DC Sister City - Sunderland, England comes for a visit to the Glass School, they have some ‘splaining to do.For more info – check out the book A Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.

Shelfworks: Art Exhibition in the Reading Room

ShelfWorks is an art exhibition curated by Molly Ruppert that will take place within the shelves of the Reading Room at Petworth Citizen. Reception with the artists on Thursday, August 14th.

Featured Artists Include: Beth Baldwin, Joseph Barbaccia, Jessica Beels, The Cliff Group. Cynthia Connolly, Mary Early, Eve Hennessa, Linda Hesh, Matt Hollis, Michael Janis, F Steven Kijek, Bridget Sue Lambert, Laura Lukaszewski, David Mordini, Peter Alexander Romero, Ira Tattelman, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Karen Joan Topping, Jenny Walton, and Ellyn Weiss.petworth.citizen.logo

ShelfWorks Exhibition Dates:
August 14-Aug 31st, 2014
Opening reception Thursday Aug 14 6-9pm
Gallery Hours Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays 6-8pm

upshur

Petworth Citizen; 829 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

Oğuzhan Tuğrul : In Memoriam

Oguzhan.tugrul

Oğuzhan Tuğrul 1955 – 2014

Saddened to learn that Turkish glass and mosaic artist Oguzhan Tugrul has passed away. “Oz” often represented Turkish Arts Organizations internationally and he would visit the Glass School while in in Washington, DC. He also came to Istanbul‘s Glass Furnace when Tim Tate and Michael Janis were teaching there in the summer of 2007.

Oguzhan Tugrul and his family visit Tim Tate & Michael Janis at Istanbul's Glass Furnace, 2007.

Oguzhan Tugrul and his family visit Tim Tate & Michael Janis at Istanbul’s Glass Furnace, 2007.

oz.glass

Oz loved fused glass and in this demonstration he explained in excellent English that his fused glass had broken. He tried to re-fuse it but it refused and so the art work was now refuse. What a brilliantly clever man and so brave at the end of his life. An example to us all.

Oğuzhan Tuğrul started glass studies in antique window restoration in Canada in 1974. He taught western stained glass techniques in Turkey in the 80′s. This was followed by his research of 16th century Ottoman decorated tucco window making techniques. The new and advanced technique of glass fusion calligraphy was the result of his publication of traditional Turkish Islamic calligraphy with acid etching techniques on flash-glass.

In the late 1990′s Oz incorporated papermaking into his media skills. Moving on to further uncharted territory, Tuğrul designed 3D windows for futuristic architecture projects.

Oz chats with Erwin Timmers during a 2012 visit to Washington, DC.

Oz chats with Erwin Timmers during a 2012 visit to Washington, DC.

We hope Oz’s legacy of  glass art and paper making and his many other craft skills will long continue.

Spoilt For Choice: Which Gallery Opening Tonite?

Looking for a big hit of Art tonight? Where you are can determine what you should see. August 1, 2014 has many great options!

AFP15.dccah.1

In Washington DC? The DC Commission on the Arts + Humanities opens its exhibit of artwork by DC artists that are up for a Fellowship Grant. AFP 15 in the Gallery at 200 I Street. The collection of these artworks captures the broad scope of DC’s dynamic art scene and provides an opportunity for artists to express their visions to the public. The Washington Glass School is represented with works by Sean Hennessey, Michael Janis and Tim Tate. The exhibit runs through September 1, 2014. The Gallery at 200 i Street; Opening Reception Aug 1, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

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next.gen

In the Norfolk, VA area? Virginia’s Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center (near Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum) joins with the TCC Visual Art Center to host a series of glass exhibits and programming that celebrate the studio glass movement. PACC, 400 High Street, Portsmouth, VA ; Opening Reception  Aug 1, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

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audrey.wilson.bender_gallery.NC

In Asheville, NC? Asheville’s Bender Gallery is hosting Artifacts and Contraptions, a two person exhibition featuring glass and mixed media sculptures by artists Peter Wright and Audrey Wilson. Opening Reception Aug 1, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm in conjunction with downtown Asheville’s First Friday Art Walk.

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Out West? Check out Habatat Galleries space at ArtAspen in Colorado! This is the fifth edition of ArtAspen, thru Aug. 3 at the Aspen Ice Garden and the fair is expanding its reach into other cultural disciplines, in efforts to attract first time art buyers and to surpass last year’s record art sales and attendance. On Friday Night, 5-7pm, ArtAspen celebrates the Golden Anniversary of the Aspen Ice Garden. Fair organizers will provide open wine bar and celebratory birthday cake for all attendees.

There is a quick roundup of tonight’s events – get your LBD on (or jeans…. whatever) and get going!