While British naval forces commanded by Captain James A. Gordon
continued to confiscate goods and load them aboard the prize merchant
vessels at Alexandria, Virginia Militia under Brigadier General John
P. Hungerford and sailors and marines of Captain David Porter’s
command were preparing a battery position on the bluff at White House
Plantation (modern day Fort Belvoir).
The Americans intended to fire on Gordon’s squadron, whose ships’ deck
guns would be unable to elevate sufficiently to return fire, as it
worked its way back down the river. On August 31 the brig HMS Fairy,
carrying a message telling Gordon to rejoin the fleet, came into
view. Hungerford rushed two militia field guns to the unfinished
position and opened fire. The shots caused some damage, and prompted
Captain Gordon to hasten his departure.
On September 1, Gordon sent the brig and bomb vessel Meteor to fire on
the battery to impede its completion, but by evening the Americans had
five naval long guns and eight artillery field pieces in place. The
British spent most of the next day getting their ships and prizes in
position to run the gantlet while working to free the bomb ship
Devastation, which had run aground, and waiting favorable winds.
History of the White House Battery:
Photographs from the recent 195th commemoration:
12th US Infantry