Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
The Battle of the White House Gun Battery, September 1-5, 1814, was the first military action in the region after the British attack on Washington. Named for a nearby white house, the battery was located at today's Fort Belvoir.
It was hastily erected in a futile attempt to impede the British warships as they withdrew down the Potomac after occupying Alexandria. The battery was on a bluff above a narrow deed channel in the river, which forced the British squadron to hug the Virginia shore.
After three days of nearly constant exchange of fire, Americans evacuated the battery, and the British continued down the river.
"The battery erected at the white house under the command of Com. (David) Porter, promises to embarrass, if not impede the progress of the enemy down the day"
-Secretary of the State James Monroe to Commodore John Rodgers, September 2, 1814
Americans set ships ablaze and sent them to impede the British withdrawing down the Potomac.
Captain David Porter, Jr., who commanded the battery at the White House, was among American officials meeting near Alexandria to plan ways to harass the enemy.
Nearby places to explore the historic Potomac River:
· Mason Neck State Park
- Hike the trails located a short distance south of the White House gun battery site.
· Leesylvania State Park - Launch a boat or paddlecraft to explore a stretch of Potomac where the British and Americans fought in 1814.
· Mount Vernon - Visit George Washington's home and view the Potomac where the British squadron assembled before descending the river.
War in the Chesapeake
During the War of 1812
the young United States was embroiled in conflict with Great Britain. From 1812 to 1815 Americans fought to protect their rights and economic independence. They faced superior enemy forces on the homefront and the high seas.
The strategically important Chesapeake Bay region felt the brunt of the war, choked by shipping blockades and ravaged by enemy raids. The events in this region were crucial to the outcome of the war.
Though there was no clear victor at the end of the war, the United States protected its democracy and emerged with heightened stature on the world stage.
Explore this pivotal time in American history along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail