Tag Archives: Washington

A Tale of 1814

This week’s carrot ranch prompt is.
April 24, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the colour of hope. Who is in need of hope and why? How can you use colour to shape the story? Pick a colour, any colour. Go where the prompt leads!

A Tale of 1814

“No it’s too dangerous. If my men are caught they would be taken prisoner, you would be murdered.”
The tall black man was insistent. “When we saw your colours, it gave us hope. You freed us, my family are no longer slaves. We know what you are planning and can help, we can guide you, we can let you know where the Americans are.”
Admiral Cochrane smiled and nodded.
“You are very brave, any of your men who wish to join us can – sergeant.”
The ex-slaves of the Colonial Marine guided the army to Washington – and burnt it!

Completely true, in 1813 (during the war of 1812) ships of the Royal Navy occupied Chesapeake Bay, where they began to make raids along the coast. Admiral Cochrane ordered “Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage.” By April 1814 hundreds of slaves had escaped, and farmers along the coast were complaining that their farms were failing, as they had no labour.


Eventually Admiral Cochrane and General Ross, commander of the land forces, received permission to attack a major city, in revenge for the destructing and looting of York (now Toronto). Many of the freed slaves wanted to be involved, but at first Cochrane was reluctant to let them as he knew that if they were captured the best they could hope for was torture and re-enslavement. However he finally agreed, and the black troops of the Colonial Marine helped lead the Anglo Canadian force to Washington, where they burnt it.


Many people believe that two lines of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ are a reference to the British strategy of encouraging black Americans to flee slavery.


No refuge could save the hireling and slave.
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.


However they were saved and as many as 6,000 of them sailed away with the Royal Navy, to new lives in Canada.

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Filed under Georgian, Historical tales, Painting, Regency