Usually when I’m looking for something to blog about (if I’m not feeling in a particularly opinionated mood) I go to such sources as Chambers Book of Days (great for obscure saints and oddities) or History UK, from which I learned that yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth (the defeat of Richard III and the beginning of the Tudors) and today is the anniversary of the London blitz in World War II.
But this day in 1812 was the day most of the inhabitants of Washington DC fled the city. Why? The British were coming and tomorrow marks the anniversary of one of the most humiliating defeats in American history, the Battle of Bladensburg. Earlier that year America declared war on Britain, following Britain’s efforts to restrict trade with the French. Other grievances included the Brits’ high-handed press-ganging of Americans into the navy and British support for native Americans against American settlers. In August of 1812 the British landed at Baltimore and marched south toward Washington.
Dolley Madison, the first lady, was one of the panicked residents who fled the city, but she had the foresight to take with her several of the valuables from the White House, including the portrait above of George Washington.
And sure enough, the British did march on Washington after the battle the next day, meeting with very little resistance. After dining at the White House on the presidential silver and glassware, they set fire to it and to the rest of the city.
So my question to you is this: I hope you’ll never have to grab your possessions and flee your home, but if you did, what would you take with you?
How to instruct your servants on moving valuable possessions and stop them running from the enemy–just one of the informative topics covered in the Riskies newsletter. Subscribe at firstname.lastname@example.org with NEWSLETTER in the subject line.
Oh geez, ah. . . my computer. . . my cat. . . hopefully a good part of the books that I really love. . . my first rubber duckie. . . I think I’m loosing it now. LOL 🙂
Useless, irreplaceable things — a red tie-dyed gown my son wore when he was a week old, the novel he wrote as a second-grade project called The All-new Space Adventures. Photographs, especially the ones Michael took in Tokyo and during our first trip to Paris.
Hm. I wouldn’t have to take the computer, since I use gmail to back up my manuscripts. First, I’d grab the box of letters my husband and I wrote each other when we were dating long-distance in England (this was 1997-98, but we didn’t have regular net access). I’d take the box of family pictures I would’ve put into an album by now if I were any other woman in my family (for someone with two X chromosomes, I suck at crafts and am baffled by the whole concept of scrapbooking). Also the Peninsular War campaign token my husband gave me for my birthday two years ago. The smocked dresses my mom made for my daughter, plus two quilts she made and a blanket my grandmother crocheted. Everything else, however precious, is replaceable.
My sanity, my computer, and my parents ashes.
My laptop, of course. My RITA (grin). The print that’s been in my family for a brazillion years. The hand painted china pieces done by a great aunt. My 1815 La Belle Assemblee and my collection of 19th century prints.
My 1810 to 1820 Annual Registers. Some books…
How much time do I have???
Hmmm-all my books? 🙂
My pets (number one!), my old baby quilt my grandmother made. I guess since I started out in life with that quilt, I could start again with it, too. 🙂
My list would include:
the basket of baby memorabilia (including my daughter’s first drawing and her little hospital newborn hat, aaaaw–she’s now 22, btw) and all the framed photos.
I guess pets and other humans are a given.
I just hope that hypothetical fire never happens, because I have a lot of stuff I’d hate to lose. 🙂 But if I had to…my laptop; my most important documents; irreplaceable photos; maybe a few books and prints that couldn’t be replaced.
I think I’m going to run out and buy a fire extinguisher. 🙂