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The British enter a deserted White House, feasting on food and wine before setting the building ablaze. Read by Jamie Parker.

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.

When the British enter the White House they find it deserted. They feast on President Madison's food and wine before setting they building ablaze. They then turn their attention to other important symbols of American government - and the city is saved only by a timely thunderstorm.

Read by Jamie Parker

Producer: David Roper
A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

15 minutes

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