By August 1814, the British fleet had been blockading Chesapeake Bay for over a year, intermittently raiding the coastline. The ending of the war with Napoleon enabled the British to reinforce the fleet with additional warships and 2,500 experienced troops under General Ross: it was decided to go on the offensive. While a diversionary raid was made down the Potomac River, the British Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Cochrane ordered his new troops to land at Benedict, whence they advanced and routed the American defence force at the Battle of Bladensburg. Washington was now at their mercy; President Madison was forced to flee, the naval shipyard and all its vessels were destroyed to prevent their capture by the British. After burning Washington, the British turned their attention to Baltimore, but their ground forces met stubborn resistance at Godly Wood, and the town and its forts refused to submit despite ferocious bombardment.
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