During the War of 1812, British forces sailed to Baltimore, Maryland, intent on attacking the city. But Baltimore was defended by Fort McHenry--a star-shaped fort perfectly situated on a point jutting into Baltimore Harbor. On the morning of September 13, 1814, the British navy attacked and bombed the fort for 25 hours.
Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment from a ship in Baltimore harbor. After a day of intense bombing, the attack ended. Key looked anxiously for the American flag over the fort. Had the fort been taken? To his relief, he saw the American flag flying above the fort--proof that the British had been repelled. Baltimore and its important port were saved from the threat of a British invasion.
Key immediately expressed his gratitude in a poem—a poem that became "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem.
Preserving Fort McHenry
In 1925, Congress established Fort McHenry National Park, and the U.S. Army began restoring it to its mid-nineteenth century appearance. This work continued through the 1930s as a project of the Works Progress Administration. By executive order in 1933, Fort McHenry was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior, and in 1939 it was redesignated a national monument and historic shrine.
With more than 50 national parks in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the National Park Service is responsible for protecting some of our nation’s most sacred natural, cultural, and historic places. However, underfunding our national parks threatens what is needed for rangers, interpretation, and other services. Contact your senators and representative and urge them to support full funding of our national parks.
Every action taken helps preserve the national parks of the Chesapeake landscape for future generations. Click here to find additional information, events, and volunteer opportunities.