Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fort McHenry and the American Spirit.

It was a cloudy, stormy day when I visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore last week. Oddly enough, I soon learned that the night of the British bombardment, it was also a stormy night. This tiny fort sits out on a circular peninsula that guards the entrance to Baltimore's harbor. I planned my trip here long before I discovered that the very weekend I intended to go, Fort McHenry was hosting a war reenactment. That's what I call a God moment! If you don't know what happened at this fort, it's a great story that will inspire you and bolster your patriotism.

On the night of September 14th, 1814, The British Navy (The most powerful navy in the world at that time) attacked the tiny port town of Baltimore, both on land and by sea. The British labeled Baltimore a "nest of pirates" because of all the privateers which were launched from there during the war and all the havoc they caused among British merchant ships. Now, the British intended retribution. Once they had Baltimore, they believed they would continue on and conquer the entire nation.
Here's a picture of the fort. It isn't very large.

and the inside

What most people don't know is that after the British burned Washington and our President, Madison was on the run, Baltimore was left completely on it's own. There was no major army there except for around 1000 troops that were comprised of both army and citizen milita. No one as coming to their aid. They were all alone. Off shore, not 2 miles from the fort sat the British fleet--the most powerful navy in the world at that time.

Here is a picture of the cannons which surrounded the fort and pointed out toward the harbor

And here, I got an awesome picture of the Pride of Baltimore sailing by the fort and firing upon them.

The bombardment began on the evening of Sept 14, 1814. For the next 25 hours some 1,800 rockets and cannon bombs were launched at the fort. Unfortunately, the British fleet was out of the Fort's range so all the men could do was duck and cover.

Here's a picture of the marching band at the fort. Their duty was to wake up the troops and play during marching and battle and at special events

Check out this cool shot of a musket firing!

and the men manning the cannons

The miracle of this story is that only a handful of men were killed and a few more injured. As the story goes, a lawyer by the name of Francis Scott Key was on a nearby ship witnesses the bombardment of the fort. When the bombing ceased, he feared the worst--that the fort had fallen. But by dawn's early light, he saw the American Flag still flying above the fort and he was so overcome with emotion that he wrote our Star Spangled Banner.

In Book 3 of in my upcoming series you'll find out much more about Francis Scott Key.

Here is a picture of he and his wife. They were quite personable and willing to answer all of our questions:

All in all, I learned a lot and had a great time!


  1. Wow, love the photos. Though our country is surely struggling and turning away from God, I love to see the places where history was made in this great land. Nothing we are now can destroy the fact that we were once a great nation. And I love the stories that tell of those moments of victory. Thank you so much for sharing these. How awesome that must have been, and surely something that will make your story that much more alive!

  2. Thanks for the photos and history, MaryLu! Okay, gotta kinda give myself a braggard-y moment, but I did kinda know that Baltimore was left more or less on its own. But, not the reason why it was attacked in the first place! I filed away that particular bit of info in my head. That was really interesting. Thanks again!


  3. Wow! Such awesome history you were able to see! Great pictures!

  4. Oh MaryLu those pictures were so cool! I loved the soldiers in their uniforms, that always grabs my attention when im learning about history on wars. Also, the information you got sounds really awesome! I cant wait to learn more about Francis Scott Keys but I will need to read the first 2 books before I get Thank you so much for sharing MaryLu..I'm so glad you had fun. That is something I would totally enjoy!
    God Bless! Is everything working out fine with your next series-do you have enought ideas and info?

  5. Love the photos and I really like history, I love to read and watch on TV all about the history of this old world.


  6. that would have been so cool! i never knew who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. and it's even cooler that you got to see the reenactment, without even knowing it was going to happen!

  7. I'll bet you DID have a great time! You have me quite green with envy and also thrilled--again--to have been born an American. Sounds like a wonderful time and certainly a help with the book research too. Wasn't Francis Scott Key or his wife related to the Lee family of Virginia, or am I remembering something that is totally mistaken? I'll have to check that out.

  8. Sounds like you had lots of fun! We have some friends that moved to Baltimore last year and I look forward to visiting them for even more reasons now.

    Can't wait to read your next book and then the next series.