Bucks victory

A scene from the battle

A scene from the battle

First published in News by

The soldiers whose place in history has been tragically overlooked could finally be given the recognition they deserve as a historian takes up the fight to make their story known.

Jon Latimer from Carmarthenshire, Wales is championing the cause of the 85th Light Infantry, the Bucks Volunteers, who were instrumental in capturing the American capital Washington in 1814 during the America War of 1812. According to Mr Latimer, this piece of the county's history is familiar to few due to an unwillingness by American writers to publicise a defeat.

Mr Latimer said: "Something that is a very common problem in American history is that it is always looked at from one perspective. We in Britain are much more willing to acknowledge that we've had a kicking every now and then "I want to bring this obscure piece of history to people's attention."

Mr Latimer said the Bucks Volunteers were a lightly armed force of skirmishers who were at the forefront of the Battle of Bladensburg. Although British forces were outnumbered by nearly three to one - 2,600 men against 6,300 Americans supported by 26 guns - they were successful in winning the battle, and subsequently taking Washington.

"They did very well for what was such a young and inexperienced regiment. The capture of an enemy capital inland by 50 miles is something very spectacular."

Following the defeat the American militia fled through the streets of Washington, leaving the city undefended. British soldiers, including the Bucks Volunteers, were able to easily take the capital, burning many historic buildings along the way.

In Mr Latimer's opinion, few people in Britain know about this event due to more urgent matters that were happening in Europe at the time. Britain was at war against Napoleon's France, and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 eclipsed conflicts elsewhere.

He said: "It is perhaps unsurprising that as Canadian historian William Kingsford noted, events in North America between 1812 and 1815 were not forgotten in Britain, for they have never been known there'."

Mr Latimer's book, pictured, 1812: War With America, is out now, priced £22.95. He said: "Considering the subject matter it's ironic really that it was published by Harvard."

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