Stars and Strips Colored Postcard
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag or the Great Garrison Flag flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Francis Scott Key "Defence of Fort McHenry" __________________________________________________________ Before the Battle __________________________________________________________ The War of 1812 had been a particularly nasty conflict with the British. They had burned down the Capitol and the White House in Washington, and were set on taking the port of Baltimore, which was protected in part by Fort McHenry, just to the south. __________________________________________________________ On September 7th, 1814, during the build-up to the attack on Baltimore, two Americans, Colonel John Skinner and a lawyer and part-time poet by the name of Francis Scott Key, had gone out to one of the British ships. They had come to negotiate the release of Dr William Beanes, a friend of Key who had been seized following the attack on Washington. The British agreed, but all three had learned too much about the forthcoming attack on Baltimore and so were detained by the British on board the frigate Surprise until it was over. __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ The Defense of Fort McHenry __________________________________________________________ The attack started on September 12th, 1814, and after an initial exchange of fire, the fleet withdrew to form an arc just outside the range of Fort McHenry's fire. __________________________________________________________ Skinner, Beanes and Key watched much of the bombardment from the British deck. The major attack started in heavy rain on the morning of September 13th. Just under three miles in the distance the three men caught glimpses of the star-shaped fort with its huge flag - 42ft long, with 8 red stripes, 7 white stripes and 15 white stars, and specially commissioned to be big enough that the British could not possibly fail to see it from a distance. __________________________________________________________ In the dark of the night of the 13th, the shelling suddenly stopped. Through the darkness they couldn't tell whether the British forces had been defeated, or the fort had fallen. __________________________________________________________ As the rain cleared, and the sun began to rise, Key peered through the lifting darkness anxious to see if the flag they had seen the night before was still flying. And so it was that he scribbled on the back of an envelope the first lines of a poem he called Defense of Fort M'Henry: __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ O, say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming __________________________________________________________ What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? __________________________________________________________ 'Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.