March 14, 2016 – Today, our time machine touches down on one of America’s darkest days: The capture of Washington, DC, and the burning of the White House, Capitol Building and a other public buildings. The man who lit the match? British Major General Robert Ross. A horseman, prankster, loving husband and daring commander who served under Wellington, Ross has fallen into obscurity over the two centuries since the War of 1812.
But with the bicentennial, two authors have resurrected the tale of a man they describe as a “reluctant arsonist.” John McCavitt is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and neighbor of Ross in Rostrevor (a town in Northern Ireland originally owned by the Ross family), and Baltimore’s Christopher T. George, Vice President of the 1812 Consortium and founding editor of the Journal of the War of 1812.
McCavitt and George are co-authors of, The Man Who Captured Washington: Major General Robert Ross and the War of 1812. You can follow them on Twitter @John_McCavitt and @CThompsonGeorge, or visit TheManWhoCapturedWashington.com.
We decided to air this episode the week of St Patrick’s Day, to honor the huge numbers of Irishmen who fought on both the British and the American sides in the war.