British ships launched an attack on Fort McHenry early on September 13, 1814. The fort defended the water approach to the city of Baltimore. The future of the city and possibly the United States depended on the outcome. After the American defeat at Bladensburg, and the British capture and partial burning of Washington, D.C. a loss here would be devastating.
Francis Scott Key witnessed the 25-hour bombardment. At "dawn's early light" on September 14th, the shelling stopped; the British attack had failed. As the enemy fleet withdrew down the Patapsco River, the defenders hoisted a huge 30x42-foot American flag. The sight of the flag inspired Key to write the words that would become America's national anthem.
"And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Third stanza "The Star Spangled Banner"
The Star Spangled Banner, circa 1913 Percy Moran
Throughout Baltimore you can find links to people and events that helped turn the tide of the War of 1812:
* Maryland Historical Society Museum — 1812 exhibits; original manuscript of "The Star Spangled Banner"
* Inner Harbor Visitor Center — Exhibits; information about Baltimore War of 1812 sites
* Here at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine — Tour the visitor center (exhibits and film); explore the grounds and daily activities
* Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum — Programs about the flag that inspired the national anthem
* Fells Point Visitor Center, 1724-26 Thames Street — Self guiding walking tour brochure of historic seaport