Joel Achenbach offers a lively narrative review of the War of 1812 and the invasion and burning of Washington, D.C. in the Washington Post today, the two-hundredth anniversary of the attack. He spends an unaccountable number of column inches on the Battle of Bladensburg (?), but has some funny and touching stories towards the end about President James and First Lady Dolly Madison wandering around separately in nearby Virginia and Maryland for the first few days after the invasion and destruction of the President’s House, hoping to find some sympathetic locals to take them in.
Achenbach name checks some famous bro-storians, but for my money the funniest and most entertaining account of the torching of what we now call the White House is Kariann Yokota’s account of it in the closing pages of her 2011 book, Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation, on pages 226-27 at the beginning of her Conclusion. She reviews the elegant supper enjoyed by British officers on imported tableware, washed down with wine from cut-glass decanters, just before they piled up the furniture to burn it to cinders.
Read it and laugh, knowing that the Republic will endure.