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The War of 1812
Running for Dear Life The Battle of Bladensburg



Running for Dear Life The Battle of Bladensburg
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.26

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    anti-British, hampering, indifference, determined, rallying, hotbed, rout, confer, imminent, best, republic, consequently, vigor, sentiment, tactics, point-blank
     content words:    From Europe, War John Armstrong, Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River, State James Monroe, President Madison, William Windor, But General Windor, Commodore Joshua Barney


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Running for Dear Life The Battle of Bladensburg
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     It was summertime in Washington, D.C. The capital of the new U.S. republic was suffering through a hot, dusty season. In 1814, the "city" was more of a village. The new government buildings springing up in the tiny, dusty town seemed a little out of place. It was here that officials of the young republic conducted its business.
 
2     At the moment, they were concerned with war. America's second war with Britain was now two years old. It had been a challenge to the new nation in many ways. Battles raged on the border of Canada and in the Atlantic. But these fronts were miles away. So far, the war had seemed rather distant. The British blockade of the east coast brought the conflict closer to home. The defeat of France had infused the blockade with new vigor. U.S. trade was severely affected. The navy was bottled up in U.S. harbors. Americans sighed over the hardships of war.
 
3     Still, the actual battle seemed a long way off. There were signs, though, that the war's front lines were about to change. British newspapers had discussed Washington, D.C., as a target for British troops. From Europe, U.S. officials began to send home warnings. Hundreds of British ships and thousands of troops were freed up by the end of hostilities with France. Where might the redirected resources be deployed?
 
4     Secretary of War John Armstrong was certain he knew the answer. Armstrong was largely responsible for management of the U.S. war effort. It was he who received the warning rumbles of intelligence from overseas. It was he who prioritized American response. When the commander of Washington's militia became alarmed at the thought of a British attack, Armstrong scoffed. "What the devil will they do here? No! No!" he insisted. "Baltimore is the place, Sir. That is of so much more consequence." Preparations for the defense of Baltimore were begun.
 
5     The British hated Baltimore. It wasn't because they didn't like the scenery. It was because the city was a hotbed of American privateering. Privateers had roamed as far as the British coast, seizing ships and generally hampering British shipping. Besides that, Baltimore had long been a source of strong anti-British sentiment. A British attack on the city would come as a surprise to no one.

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