Having finished smacking down the unruly upstarts, the British began the process of withdrawing from Washington, DC, and returning to their ships in the Patuxant River. Had it not been for the incoherent nature of American leadership at that point, the British were horribly overexposed and could have had a difficult time retreating, a thought very much on General Ross's mind. He had been reluctant of the whole venture, and the Naval commander, Admiral Cockburn had to coax him into it. Fortunately for him, he had little to fear.
On the afternoon of the 25th, a fierce summer storm hit Washington, knocking chimneys off roofs and men off horses. Shredding what little remained of discipline in the Americans, it allowed the British to withdraw without incident, despite the several injuries it caused to their own. So quietly was it done, that many American's thought they had snuck away. Presumably, we were just unused to the difference between "professional army" and "traveling circus".
In their wake, the British left behind a shattered city and an outraged country. As Washingtonians struggled to rebuild, the British set their eyes on the early nineteenth Century's version of Somalia: Baltimore. Eager to rid themselves of what they considered a "nest of pirates", the English planned to destroy the port of Baltimore, guarded, of course, by Ft. McHenry. Furious at the destruction of their Capitol, Americans flooded Baltimore to defend her, and under the able leadership of Major General Samuel Smith, were ultimately successful. You know this part of the story, right? Remember "bombs bursting in air" and "rockets red glare"? Yeah, you don't need my help here.
Part of the enduring popularity of the Star Spangled Banner came from this sense, that after being so humiliatingly defeated at Washington, our defense of Ft. McHenry recaptured some of our pride. It was possible for American soldiers, properly led and inspired to stand up to the British Lion and tweak his tail. But, as this is DC, and not Baltimore, Like a Local what do we care? Because, the Star Spangled Banner is here in DC, of course. The centerpiece of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History; it occupies a new and specially designed gallery directly across the foyer as you come in the Mall Entrance. And, if you catch the timing right, flag creator Mary Pickersgill will take the time to explain how she made it.
But that's all in the future. Back in the summer of 1814, Congress reconvened in Blodgett's Hotel, then the site of the Patent Office. The British had spared it as the head of the Patent Office, Dr. William Thornton, had argued that while the building was public, the patent models inside were private property of the inventors. Impressed with the argument, short of time, and probably just wanting the annoying man to go away, the British spared the building. Congress resisted calls to move the capital elsewhere (New York and Cincinnati were suggested), and rebuilding soon commenced under architect Benjamin Latrobe. Blodgett's Hotel burned many years later (on it's own, without British help) and become the site of the General Post Office, now the Hotel Monaco.
Down Pennsylvania Avenue from the rebuilding Capitol, Jemmy and Dolley were similarly unable to occupy the gutted White House and took up residence in the nearby, and still-standing, Octagon House, also designed by Dr. Thornton. The mansion's owner, Col. John Tayloe (technically his wife), ensured the building's survival by hosting the French Ambassador, thereby making the building, albeit temporarily, a diplomatic residence. It would be in it's study, a year and a half later on February 17th, 1816, that President Madison would sign the Treaty of Ghent, officially ending the increasingly poorly-named War of 1812.