Archive for the ‘Fort McHenry’ Category
On September 12, 1914, during the citywide centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Baltimore dedicated Fort McHenry as a public park. 6500 school children were arranged on a grandstand in the form of a massive human flag. The children, accompanied by a 250 piece marching band, sang Francis Scott Key’s historic anthem, a song inspired and written during the Battle of Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner would finally become the nation’s official anthem in 1931. Edward Berge’s George Armistead Monument was unveiled during the day’s festivities.
Within Fort McHenry’s Constellation Plaza (Street View)
GPS: 39° 15′ 50.91″ N 76° 34′ 54.75″ W
This larger-than-life monument depicts the Greek mythological hero of music and poetry, Orpheus with his lyre. Around the base are depictions of Francis Scott Key and the muses celebrating the victory of the American defenders of Fort McHenry against the British in the War of 1812. Key (1779-1843) penned the words to the Star-Spangled Banner (which were subsequently put to a British drinking song) after having watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British vessel, where he was negotiating the release of Dr. William Beanes, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This magnificent piece by sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus was dedicated on June 14, 1922 and was originally situated in the middle of the entrance road to the fort, being moved to its current location in 1962. This monument is one of many in Baltimore commemorating Francis Scott Key. Two others are located in Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon Place, respectively.
In person, this monument is immense and sits quite imposingly against the open landscape on the south edge of Fort McHenry. In the distance to the south lies the windswept water. Small trees have been planted in the vicinity in honor of George Washington and other heroes. Interestingly, though Key wrote the words to the song in 1814, it was only in 1931 that a law was finally passed making the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem of the United States of America. At the dedication of this monument in 1922, President Harding became the first American president to be broadcast on coast-to-coast radio. The pedestal contains a time capsule that holds historic documents.
Next to Visitors Center of Ft. McHenry (Street View)
GPS: 39° 15′ 52.55″ N 76° 34′ 47.34″ W
Col. George Armistead (1780-1818) was a Virginia-born artillery officer who served as commander of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore. Armistead is most well-known for ordering a massive American flag to be installed at the fortress, measuring forty-two feet by thirty feet, “a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” The flag contained fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, was crafted by Mary Pickersgill and later became the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem of the United States of America. Armistead is buried in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery, alongside his nephew Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead. This monument was dedicated on the twelfth of September in 1914, one hundred years after the Battle of Baltimore. Artist: Edward Berge.
This monument stands outside the entrance to the visitor’s center at Fort McHenry, which itself is considered a National Monument and Historic Shrine. It is one of two monuments to this military hero in the city, the other located on the crest of Federal Hill, overlooking the Inner Harbor. During WWII, Fort McHenry served as a Coast Guard base.