Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry stands strong in Baltimore, Maryland, just as it did so many years ago during the War of 1812. Originally Fort Whestone, Fort McHenry replaced it before the war and became a part of the East Coast defense system. The British came to Baltimore after they burned Washington, D.C. and tried to attack and invade the city. Unable to do so because of Fort McHenry's defense, the British gave up, and retreated. Francis Scott key was in the Baltimore harbor on an American ship during the battle, and saw the American flag waving above the fort. This gave him the desire to write the "Star Spangled Banner," our national anthem. Fort McHenry is a great contribution to America's victory in the War of 1812.

Building Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry was being built by the Baltimore Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. It was built between 1794 and 1803. Designed by a Frenchman named Jean Fonic, the fort has five points, making it look like a star. It is named after James McHenry, a Secretary of War during 1796 to 1800. The fort was used to stop the British from invading Baltimore. It was later used during the civil war for a military prison. It is now a national park, attracting eager tourists everywhere.

Fort Mchenry today
Fort Mchenry today
Events Then and Today

The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key on September 13, 1814. It was written during the Battle of Baltimore. Key had gone to Baltimore to release his friend, Dr. William Beanes, from captivity. Dr. Beanes had been taken by the British during or shortly after the burning of Washington D.C. Beanes was released, but Key had to stay on a ship in the Chesapeake Bay overnight. During this time, Fort McHenry was defending Baltimore, and in the morning Key looked up and saw the flag standing boldly. This inspired him to write our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Originally a poem, the Star Spangled Banner was published, and people began to sing it instead of read it. It was popular all over the country. Finally, in 1931, Congress decided to make it the official national anthem.

Battle of Baltimore

The battle of Baltimore was fought from September 13-14, 1814, during the War of 1812. Baltimore was a large target for the British because they were many proponents of war there. Citizens of Baltimore had also directly attacked British ships, making the town responsible for thirty percent of all British ship attacks. This is why after the burning of Washington, the British headed straight for Baltimore. Apon their arrival, they began firing at Fort McHenry. The battle lasted for 25 hours, leaving five Americans dead and 24 wounded. Towards the end of the Battle, the British began to come closer to the fort, and Americans began firing back. The British realized that they had failed to defeat Mchenry's defense, and sailed away, leaving Americans to celebrate their victory.

Today: A National Monument

In Baltimore, Maryland, you can still see Fort McHenry today. It is now a National Monument. People can learn about what went on during the battle by seeing exhibits, participating in outdoor activities, watching a movie, and more. Also, during May, the "Living in America Flag" is created by nearly 4,000 students. A cannon is also fired for tourists on the weekends in the summer, and there is even an Independence Day firework celebration. Fort McHenry is a now a place where you can learn about the fort, the battle, the Star Spangled Banner, and more.

The flag still proudly flew over Fort McHenry after the battle.
The flag still proudly flew over Fort McHenry after the battle.

The Significance of Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry is a very important place. A great contributer to the War of 1812, the fort defended the city of Baltimore from British forces. Our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was written at Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key. Fort Mchenry is a very important part of national history.


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"The Star Spangled Banner". 2007. Information Please. 29 March 2009.