Any link between County Antrim and Baltimore, Maryland? We dicovered there were in fact many when we visited Westminster Churchyard and that one of those links was McHenry after whom Fort McHenry is named and Fort McHenry is part and parcel of the Battle of Baltimore and the story of the Star Spangled Banner
and the flag was ordered from a local woman, Mary Pickersgill in 1813 (ironically from English wool bunting) who made flags and pennants for commercial and military vessels from her home – now The Flaghouse museum. Only this flag was of massive proportions and took 15 people 20 minutes to hoist! You can see it takes up the side of a building. That flag is in The Smithsonains (minus about 8 inches that were sold off as souvenirs) and it was the flag that ‘by the dawn’s early light’ inspired the poem that is now the anthem.
The flaghouse museum BaltimoreWhat so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars sewn in rows facing right/left/right in this case - the configuration having not yet been standardised.. thru the perrilous fight'Ore the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. Francis Scott Key was on a British escort ship out in Chesapeake Bay whence they bombarded the Fort throughout the night.Fort McHenry was the last defence
But it was well built – the powder house roof deflected missliles and only one tenth of the building was interior – the rest was insulation!
- The powder house centre
As you can see from this comparison!
Nonetheless the bombardment was relentless and merciless and the Fort did well to withstand
the rocket’s red glare. The bombs bursting in air,
Those bombs were made of thick iron and looked like large cannon balls and they were impresice weapons that exploded sometimes in the air throwing massive chunks of burning metal all over the fort.
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
And therefore the guns were still being manned
- Stategically placed gun positions
And those guns would be within range of any ships trying to enter the Inner Harbour
Not far away!
- view back to Inner Harbour from Fort
Hardly surprising then that the muse (also honoured here) inspired Key to write a passionate poem about the Battle of Baltimore in honour of the men who kept that flag flying. It was set to the music of an English drinking song and in 1931 adopted as the National Anthem of the USA.
And I confess that listening to that anthem looking out a the flag flying over that spot – a tear came to my eye.
within this gatePeople served right up until WWIand this man gave us a first rate show - the whole speil even though there was only the two of us visiting that day! That uniform is pure wool. How he put up with the summer heat wearing that I don't know but he explained well the past duties and hardships of being a seaman. In October some of the exhibits shut down but Fort McHenry is worth visiting any time! You can get there by Water Taxi - which is a good way to arive. officer's quarters