Nova Scotia Archives

A Nova Scotian Observer at the Burning of Washington, August 1814

Letter from Dr. John Fox, Assistant Surgeon, HMS Majestic, Chesapeake Bay, to his father, Cornelius Fox.  5 September 1814. — Page 1 of 4: 27 x 34 cm.   Nova Scotia Archvies MG 100 vol. 35 no. 105 (accession no. 1983-279).

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On Board HM Ship Majestic —            
Patuxent River Chesapeake Bay 5th Septr 1814

Hond Father —

                                    A subject Presenting Itself with A safe Conveyance from Halifax (by HM Brig Espoir) I embrace the first opportunity to address you —

                                    The last letter I wrote you was by Mr Jno Cummings from Halifax and being hurried away at almost A moments warning had not time to write one of A later Date, Nothing of moment Transpired during the Remainder of our stay at Halifax — the Dragon arrived the night Previous to the Intended day of our Sailing which Protracted our Stay five days longer. We saild from Halifax on the 6th Augt and made Boston Bay, which is Blockaded by Two 74s from which place we run down all the American coast, until we Joind the Blockading Squadron off New London Consisting of two seventy fours 2 Frigates 2 Brigs & the — Terror Bomb — our Boats went in with the Brigs & Bomb & Effectually Batter’d down and destroyed A small place call’d Stonington — The Terror had 12 Killed and Wounded we then parted with the Squadron and directed our Course for the Chesapeake when we arrived on the 24th we found the Squadron consisting of Admirals Cochrane, Malcomb, and Coburne, with 5 Sail of the line — 6 Frigates 6 Troopers about A dozen Transports 7 Brigs & Bombs Exclusive of Tenders & Gun Boats all together about 45 Sail about 100 miles up this River which is in some places not more than A mile Wide

transcribed by Nova Scotia Archives staff 2014



Dr. John Fox, a native of Cornwallis Township, Nova Scotia, was Assistant Surgeon on HMS Majestic. The Majestic joined the squadron of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochran in Chesapeake Bay for the attack on Washington, D.C., by British forces commanded by Major-General Robert Ross. A large part of the city was burned on 24 August 1814.