George Cockburn Quotes

Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned?

At the time Cockburn was the 2nd in command of the British Fleet and had attacked Washington in the War of 1812. The British troops had taken the capitol and Cockburn was seated in the chair of the Speaker of the House with the British officers in the House itself. The reason he raised the question is that the attack on Washington was in retaliation of the American invasion of Canada and the attack on York (Toronto). The American troops were somewhat out of control and burned private and government non-armed buildings which was against the then rules of civilized warfare. The British fleet was ordered to attack Washington to retaliate, but the specifics of the retaliation were left to the officers discretion. The officers responded in the affirmative, and Washington buildings including the White House was burned. Most Americans are unaware that we invaded Canada and do not know why Washington was burned.
George Cockburn
George Cockburn
  • Born: April 22, 1772
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Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet, GCB, FRS (22 April 1772 – 19 August 1853) was a Royal Navy officer. As a captain he was present at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in February 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars and commanded the naval support at the reduction of Martinique in February 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars. He also directed the capture and Burning of Washington on 24 August 1814 as an advisor to Major General Robert Ross during the War of 1812. He went on to be First Naval Lord and in that capacity sought to improve the standards of gunnery in the fleet, forming a gunnery school at Portsmouth; later he ensured that the Navy had latest steam and screw technology and put emphasis of the ability to manage seamen without the need to resort to physical punishment.

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