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The War of 1812
Rising from the Ruins The Burning of Washington, Part 2



Rising from the Ruins The Burning of Washington, Part 2
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.62

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    armstrong, degradation, freakish, tri-cornered, standing, uncanny, downpour, invasion, republic, ablaze, full-length, overrun, charred, encouraging, reconstruction, philadelphia
     content words:    General Ross, Admiral Cochrane, Yankee Doodle, President Madison, State James Monroe, President James Monroe, George Washington, Dolley Madison


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Rising from the Ruins The Burning of Washington, Part 2
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     The capital of the American republic was swarming with redcoats. The main buildings of the U.S. government were in flames, set ablaze by British torches. It was late evening. The British moved on to the president's house. The dining table there was set for a grand dinner. The British took advantage of the spread. They ate, drank, and toasted their king.
 
2     Soldiers and officers alike plundered the beautiful house. James Madison's tri-cornered hat was bandied about on the tip of a bayonet. General Ross slipped into his pocket a packet of James and Dolley Madison's love letters. The soldiers left the house a shambles. As the triumphant force departed, the elegant home was put to the torch. The next day, other buildings suffered the same fate. The British reveled in the degradation of the American capital.
 
3     Their glee was destined to be tempered, however, by the powerful hand of nature. By early afternoon, the sky above the devastated city darkened. Suddenly, the area was struck by a freakish hurricane. Lightning flashed again and again through the black sky. The fury of the wind and rain beat at the British soldiers. They were forced to seek shelter.
 
4     A couple of hours later, the hurricane was followed by a tornado. The black funnel shrieked through Washington. The wind howled. Its deadly force flung debris everywhere. Cannons carried by the invasion force were lifted off the ground. Soldiers threw themselves face down in the mud to avoid being carried away. As if a stratospheric ocean had been ripped open, the skies poured water for over two hours. The downpour put out most of the fires set by the British. It also devastated the British column.
 
5     When the weather finally returned to normal, the British troops headed back to their ships. They were shaken by the freakish storms. The enemy losses from the uncanny weather were greater than at the Battle of Bladensburg. The bruised and dazed British troops finally boarded their ships. Admiral Cochrane had his sights set on Baltimore. The fleet headed north.

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