Our recent trip to Baltimore provided some interesting historic sites to visit, including Fort McHenry National Monument. It is prominently located on Locust Point and projects into Baltimore Harbour. When it was built in 1798 it provided a strategic defence for Baltimore, which was developing into a busy port.
The Fort’s finest hour was during the war of 1812 against the British. The installation survived a 25 hour bombardment from the 5000-strong British fleet and kept Baltimore harbour safe from attack. During the skirmish a 17′ x 25′ flag was flown over Fort McHenry: this was replaced early on the morning of 14 September 1814 with a larger garrison flag to signal US victory in the Battle of Baltimore.
The larger flag inspired Francis Scott Key, a local man, to write the poem ‘Defence of Fort M’Henry’. This was later set to music and became known as ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, the US National Anthem.
Fort McHenry is a ‘must visit’ when in Baltimore. There is a fantastic visitor’s centre that takes you right through the full history of the Fort. The Fort itself has been restored to its full 1812 splendour. Visitors can walk around to see what it was like to live in the days of 1812.
If you are staying in the Inner Harbor then the Charm City Circulator ‘Banner Route’ bus will take you there and back. This bus service is free and runs about every half an hour. Fort McHenry can also be reached by water taxi. On a sunny day the Fort is fabulous place for a picnic. Unfortunately we visited in February and it was actually snowing lightly! The Fort is a National Monument and also a Historic Shrine: it is also the Birthplace, of course, of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. Just in case you have to ask – Toby did – Fort McHenry was named after the American statesman James McHenry (1753-1816) who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland and a signatory of the Constitution of the United States.
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