Monday, April 23, 2012

Fort McHenry

This has been on our list of places to see for a while, and last weekend we felt up to getting out of the house and doing a little sightseeing. So we headed up to Baltimore to see Fort McHenry. In 1814, during The War of 1812, the British attacked Baltimore. Fort McHenry sits at the front of Baltimore Harbor and was the first water defense of the city. 
Francis Scott Key had been trying to leave Baltimore by boat, but his boat was detained by the British on the way out of the port. So during the attack Francis Scott Key sat on his boat in the harbor watching as the British bombarded the fort. In the morning after the bombing had stopped, Key struggled to see through the morning fog whose flag now waved above the fort. He strained to see if the British had taken the fort and if there was a British flag above the fort, or if the Americans had held the fort. He was able to make out our American "star spangled banner."

And that event inspired Key to pen a few lines about the event, eventually becoming the poem that we know today as our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." The original flag from that night is in the National Museum of American History here in Washington D.C., so we have seen the flag. Now we have also seen the fort.
The flag that was flying the day we went was tiny compared to the original flag. The ranger said this flag would barely cover the blue section on the original flag. He also said this is one of the few places where the flag is always flying because of an order from the president. 
We also got to explore the inside of the fort, including the jail. Julia had a little too much fun running around the fort.
Afterwards we went to Baltimore harbor and looked at the cool old ships they have in the harbor. This is the USS Constellation, the last Civil War era U.S. Naval ship. It was beautifully restored and does not look over 150 years old. 




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