Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ukraine? You Are Kidding?

There are anniversaries which are celebrated, just remembered and others either forgotten or avoided.  If President Vladimir Putin would care to give his famous sense of humour an airing in negotiations with Hague and Kerry he might remind them of one they would prefer to forget at present.

In August 2014 it is the anniversary, the bicentenary, of the famous victory of the Battle of Bladensburg when the American's made a disorderly retreat leaving Washington DC to the mercy of the Brit's.

This, one of the more foolish and not needed wars of history, began in 1812 over trade and seagoing matters during the British War against Napoleon. 

With Britain committed in the Peninsula some in America thought it a good time to take Canada by force, to reinstate the slave trade in the Caribbean and to assert their support and admiration for the dictatorship and tyranny of Napoleon and the French.

The British expedition to The Chesapeake was the result, a small strike force to punish and pull the Americans back from the border with Canada.  Other matters were less clear. 

One of these was what to do with escaped slaves.  The guidance from the Army's Headquarters, The Horseguards, to the commanders was not helpful.

After torching many of the public buildings, the British moved on to Baltimore where it became unstuck as fatigue, dysentery, lack of artillery and the failure of the Royal Navy to get up river led to embarkation for home. 

The Commander, Major General Robert Ross was killed and his deputy, Colonel Arthur Brooke was in charge of the withdrawal.  Both were Ulstermen who had otherwise distinguished service.  Brooke was of the same family as the later Field Marshall Alan Brooke of World War 2 fame.

Later in 1815, another British force landed by New Orleans in one of the most misguided invasions in British military history.  Trapped in a land of swamp and bogs were defeated by a more organised and equipped American force.

If President Putin does decide to comment on the comings and goings of this untidy and questionable episode in history he will at least remind Hague and Kerry that both the British and the Americans have plenty of form in invading, interfering and attempting to disrupt existing political entities.

One of the buildings burned in 1814 at Washington was the Library of Congress.  Thomas Jefferson was by this time down on his uppers.  One reason was his obsession with books and the immense and very expensive library he had built up.

So he managed to sell it to Congress as the basis for a restored Library of Congress and was able to continue living on his estate at Monticello.

Books do furnish a room. 

1 comment:

  1. Ah...Bladensberg. At least the war of 1812 was such a fiasco for both sides that our respective countries saw fit not to repeat the process.

    As my my many times away Grandfather was taken prisoner by the Brits (He had the unfortunate skill of being and able-bodied seaman who was in the US Army to get away from all that) and died of dysentary later on, this is a tiny bit personal.

    As for your comments about largish countries destabilizing smallish countries, I would be a touch peevish if Kerry and
    hague weren't doing such a thing. After all, this kind of destabilize and control has a proud history in that particular region of the planet. Sythian, Parthians, Huns and other steppe people were treated to such little kindnesses by the caring attentions of Justinian and other Roman Emperors.