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Eleanor N.
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  • Recognizing the 200Th Anniversary of the War of 1812 and the Benjamin Harrison Society

    by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

    Posted on 2013-01-02

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    NORTON of the district of columbia in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 2, 2013 Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in recognizing the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the Benjamin Harrison Society's work in bringing attention to the little known involvement of the District of Columbia in the war.

    In the summer of 1814, British troops invaded our nation's capital. The poorly planned [[Page E2037]] campaign ended in the wounding of Joshua Barney and the burning of the capital city-- most major public buildings were burned, including the United States Capitol and the White House. However, a brave navy commodore, Joshua Barney and flotilla of men, militia and marines, stood in the Rives' Farm of Washington, D.C., with two 18 pound cannons and three 12 pound cannons defending the nation's capital until their ammunition was depleted and the wounding of Commodore Barney. In 2009, the Benjamin Harrison Society's lead historian, Acqunetta Anderson, asked volunteer archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution to conduct the archaeological excavation of U.S. Reservation 520 to confirm Barney's artillery position during the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, using historic descriptions, archaeological prospecting, mapping and excavation. The significance of the site, besides providing insight into an example of mid-19th century architecture, was that the Rives' barns provided a reference point for determining the position of Barney's battery during the battle. Barney's two 18 pound cannons and three 12 pound cannons were described as being within several yards of this location. The excavation of the median in Bladensburg Road by the D.C. Department of Transportation in September 2011 added to the investigation. The original turnpike level could be distinguished approximately 23.6 inches below the present road surface and spring water was observed still running across the road opposite Barney's Spring. Brick fragments, presumably emanating from the second Rives' barn, were also found in the median trench, further strengthening Ms. Anderson's theory that the Battle of Bladensburg occurred both in Maryland and Washington, D.C. in Ward 5 on August 24, 1814.

    The Benjamin Harrison Society should be commended for their dedication to the research of the history of Washington, D.C. and the War of 1812, Battle of Bladensburg. Their research revealed that Barney, and his flotilla of men, militia, and marines battled the British in Washington, D.C. during the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814. The archaeological knowledge gained from this project can assist the National Park Service in cultural resource management, as well as the Benjamin Harrison Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Benjamin Harrison Chapter, and the Washington, D.C. War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission with site interpretation of both the Battle of Bladensburg and the Star-Spangled Banner Trail in Washington, D.C. It will help to finalize the Commission's plans for the commemoration of the Battle of Bladensburg and the War of 1812, beginning in 2012.

    I ask the House to join me in recognizing the Benjamin Harrison Society and their involvement in research and commemorating the War of 1812.


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