Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Inside the Visitor Center, there's a presentation on how Key came to be a temporary prisoner of the British. It tells of his tension at not knowing the outcome of the battle, and then as dawn approached, he saw the flag.

They start playing the "Star Spangled Banner."

The projection screen goes up to expose a huge picture window.
And there it is. The fort, the flag.

Goosebumps the size of basketballs.
15 stars and 15 stripes. After this, it was decided that adding a new stripe for every state would get cumbersome, so a new star would be added for new states, but the stripes would remain fixed at 13.

Below: a demonstration of how big the flag really is. This is not the full-sized flag. The real one is bigger.

Artillery Demonstration

Left and above: the officer in charge here, whom I had the pleasure of talking to, is a real retired Army lieutenant colonel.
No, not a British spy. The uniform color denotes his role. The little wagon carried powder and shot for the cannon

The Fort

Fort McHenry is a typical star fort of the era. During the battle, both sides were aware the other could do real damage, so the Britsh fleet stood off and fired at long range, and of cours the fort did likewise, so damage and casualties were minimal.

If you're going to fight someone, the British can be about as civilized an opponent you can have. Just don't get them mad. You won't like them when they're mad.

Baltimore Harbor

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Created 22 June 2007, Last Update 04 June 2020