Baltimore Harbor/Fort McHenry

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Sailing ShipsWell, as promised earlier, here are some photos from Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry (click the photo for the entire set). We took a water taxi down the Patapsco River to get to the fort, and Meredith and I were shooting away almost the entire time (click here for her photos).

Fort McHenry, of course, is the site of a famous battle during the War of 1812. In September, 1814, after sacking and burning Washington D.C., the British took it upon themselves to attack Baltimore, and its plunderiffic-wharfs and docks.

Defenses for Baltimore’s Harbor included chains, sunken ships and other devices, but Fort McHenry was the biggest concern. Its star-fort was heavily armored and its guns could cause problems for any British ships trying to reach Baltimore proper.

So, what happened? More than likely, you already know the answer:

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Yep: American defenders at the fort held on after a British naval bombardment, and, the next day, raised the fort’s huge American Flag. Francis Scott Key, who watched the battle from another ship in the harbor, was so moved by the sight he penned a poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” Later, the words were set to a popular English drinking song, and we had our national anthem.

In the photo above, the two sailboats are cruising toward the outlet of the Patapsco River, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay drainage. In the distance is the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

On an interesting-but-unrelated note, I surpassed 5,000 views on my Flickr account sometime last night. Thank you for everybody who has followed the links here to that page. It’s very much appreciated.