On this day in 1794, General “Mad Anthony” Wayne proves that the fragile young republic can counter a military threat when he puts down Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket’s confederacy near present-day Toledo, Ohio, with the newly created 3,000-man strong Legion of the United States at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
On this day in 1914, the second and third of what will be four “Battles of the Frontiers” fought between German and Allied forces on the Western Front during a four-day period in August 1914 begin near Ardennes and Charleroi in northern France.
On this day in 1776, the British arrive at Long Island, between Gravesend and New Utrecht, with “near twenty four thousand men ready to land in a moment,” according to one observer.
On this day in 1862, Allan Pinkerton, head of the new secret service agency of the Federal government, places Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow under house arrest in Washington, D.C.
On this day in 1814, British forces under General Robert Ross overwhelm American militiamen at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, and march unopposed into Washington, D.C. Most congressmen and officials fled the nation’s capital as soon as word came of the American defeat, but President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, escaped just before the invaders arrived. Earlier in the day, President Madison had been present at the Battle of Bladensburg and had at one point actually taken command of one of the few remaining American batteries, thus becoming the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief.
The British army entered Washington in the late afternoon, and General Ross and British officers dined that night at the deserted White House. Meanwhile, the British troops, ecstatic that they had captured their enemy’s capital, began setting the city aflame in revenge for the burning of Canadian government buildings by U.S. troops earlier in the war. The White House, a number of federal buildings, and several private homes were destroyed. The still uncompleted Capitol building was also set on fire, and the House of Representatives and the Library of Congress were gutted before a torrential downpour doused the flames.
On this day in 1945, John Birch, an American missionary to China before the war and a captain in the Army during the war, is killed by Chinese communists days after the surrender of Japan, for no apparent reason.
The stage is set for the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, on this day when Confederate cavalry under General Fitzhugh Lee enter Manassas Junction and capture the rail center. Union General John Pope’s Army of Virginia was soon on its way, and the two armies would clash on August 29.