In 1814, the small community of Long Old Fields boasted about five houses, a post office, three taverns, a race track, polling house, and a church. On the night of August 22, 1814, American troops, of about 3,200 men, camped at Long Old Fields (now called Forestville). It was a location chosen by General William Winder because it covered the main road to Washington and allowed for a fast response to a British advance from any direction.
According to Major General James Wilkinson the camp was "open all night as a race-field, and the sailors and militia were as noisy as if it was a fair." At about two in the morning, the camp was awakened by a false alarm as cattle, supposedly donated by Major Oden of Bellefields, were driven in.
On the morning of August 23, President Madison and three members of his cabinet arrived at Long Old Fields to inspect the troops.
After this inspection, General Winder ordered his troops to withdraw to the Washington Navy Yard with some troops stationed at the Eastern Branch bridge.
The British troops under Major Ross rested briefly at this same spot on their march to Bladensburg on the morning of August 24, 1814. The British accounts reported that the American camp's fires were still smoldering and other evidence that "considerable bodies of troops had passed the night."