EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. - DUSK
The sun sets as 4,500 BRITISH REDCOATS march onto Washington.
AUGUST 24, 1814
The British soldiers are a sight to behold. Professional,
well-trained, orderly. Several haphazardly-dressed AMERICAN
MILITIA run from the capital, not even bothering to fire back
in defense. The sound of BRITISH WAR DRUMS fills the city.
GENERAL SIR EDWARD PACKENHAM (36) rides forward on his horse.
Handsome and strong, Packenham has earned the respect of his
veteran troops. He comments after the retreating militia --
Such cowardice! Their bellies are
as yellow as their teeth!
The men cheer. Packenham eyes the surrounding buildings --
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, THE CAPITOL, and in the far distance
across a great field, THE WHITE HOUSE...
GENERAL PACKENHAM (CONT’D)
Captain, fire your torches! All
public buildings, we shall burn
them straight to the ground!
EXT. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS - DUSK
The British troops approach lighting TORCHES. Several
LIBRARY WORKERS are pulled out the front of the building.
Around back, the matronly LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS meets with an
OLD FARMER in the alley. The farmer has a line of PRODUCE
CARTS pulled by a tired donkey.
LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS
For the Patterson farm in Manassas.
The librarian hands over a STACK OF PAPERS. The farmer
unceremoniously places the stack in a cart full of apples.
And as the farmer covers the cart with a tarp, we see these
aren’t just any old papers -- these are the original copies
of THE CONSTITUTION and the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
The farmer pulls away. The building burns.
INT. THE WHITE HOUSE - HALLWAY - DUSK
A SERVANT uses a LOOKING GLASS to survey the chaos across the
city. The redcoats turn toward the White House.
Mrs. Madison, we best be leaving!
The servant hightails it down a hall and into -
INT. THE WHITE HOUSE - MEETING ROOM - DUSK
Where FIRST LADY DOLLEY MADISON (46) is supervising a quick
collection of important items from the house.
With care, gentlemen! Let’s keep
it a painting worth our efforts.
Two WORKERS cut out a full-length OIL PAINTING of GEORGE
WASHINGTON from its frame hanging on the wall. Other workers
carry in sacks full of silver and other wares.
Mrs. Madison, the redcoats.
(to the workers)
Carry everything we can. Who knows
what they’ll see fit to pillage.
Dinner’s already been served ma’am.
Then leave it for them. May it be
the last hospitality they receive.
EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE - FRONT DOOR - NIGHT
Packenham watches as the redcoats use a BATTERING RAM to
break down the FRONT DOOR. The British storm the castle.
INT. THE WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT
The redcoats move from room to room, ransacking as they go.
No table is left unturned, no artifact intact.
INT. THE WHITE HOUSE - DINING ROOM - NIGHT
Packenham arrives at the STATE DINING ROOM. He gives pause --
indeed, a full DINNER has been left served on the table.
The soldiers wait as Packenham tries the soup...
A fouler meal never tasted so well.
Shame to let it waste.
The soldiers help themselves. Packenham finishes his soup,
revealing a victorious scene from THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
etched on the bowl bottom. Packenham SMILES at the irony.
EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. - NIGHT
The city is on FIRE. Flames climb high into the sky. The
British abandon the WHITE HOUSE and light the exterior walls.
It’s unlike anything we’ve seen... and it actually happened.
Packenham overlooks the carnage from atop his horse. And as
a BRITISH UNION JACK is raised over the American capital --