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Letter to Patrick Magruder, Clerk of the House of Representatives, from S. Burch and J.T. Frost, September 15, 1814

Writing to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, who was absent during the British attack, his deputies S. Burch and J.T. Frost described their attempt to save the House records. With only an ox cart at their disposal, they had to abandon many records. The Secret Journal of Congress was among the items destroyed in the fire.

On the 21st the first of the undersigned Clerks was furloughed…for the purpose of returning to the City to take care of and save such part of the Books and papers of the Clerk’s office as he might be able to effect in case the Enemy should get possession of the place....

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Letter to Patrick Magruder, Clerk of the House of Representatives, from S. Burch and J.T. Frost, September 15, 1814 On the 21st the first of the undersigned Clerks was furloughed…for the purpose of returning to the City to take care of and save such part of the Books and papers of the Clerk’s office as he might be able to effect in case the Enemy should get possession of the place....

War of 1812: Congress Investigates

On August 24, 1814, under the command of General Robert Ross and Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, British troops took control of the capital and proceeded to burn the President’s House, the Capitol (including the Library of Congress), the Navy Yard, and American warships. Embarrassed and furious over the circumstances, Congress began an investigation to determine how the British were able to capture the city. On November 29, 1814, the House of Representatives issued its report, which was inconclusive. There was no further investigation.