Nearly 200 years ago, Britain attacked the heartland of the United States. The President and his wife had just enough time to pack their belongings and flee the White House before the British army entered and set fire to the building. From here, the British army turned its sights to Baltimore.
Peter Snow tells the story of this extraordinary confrontation between Britain and the United States, the outcome of which inspired America's national anthem. Using eyewitness accounts, Peter describes the colourful personalities on both sides of this astonishing battle - from Britain's fiery Admiral Cockburn, to the cautious but widely popular army commander Robert Ross and the beleaguered President James Madison whose nation was besieged by a greater military force.
In the final episode, the British attack on Baltimore has failed and they retreat to their ships. To celebrate victory, a young American poet Francis Scott Key writes a poem - The Star Spangled Banner.
Read by Jamie Parker
Producer: David Roper
A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.