Chesapeake Theater Continued (Part Three)
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21230410) 496-4290
Built in the shape of a five-pointed star around the turn of the nineteenth century, Fort McHenry was named for James McHenry, a signer of the U.S. Constitution and Secretary of War under President John Adams. The fort’s heavy guns made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Admiral Cochrane’s fleet to approach Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where they could provide telling support for a ground assault on the city. With Brooke’s troops stalled miles short of their objective, Cochrane knew he would have to capture Fort McHenry or abandon the Baltimore campaign. Beginning at first light on the morning of September 13, 1814 the British fleet pounded Fort McHenry for nearly 25 hours. Fired from as much as 3 miles away, the bombardment did little serious damage, but it must have provided the citizens of Baltimore with a truly impressive fireworks display. When the firing ended just after dawn on September 14, the British gave up their attempt to capture the city and withdrew down the Patapsco River. The old fort still looks much as it did 200 years ago. On the fortress grounds are statues of Major George Armistead, the fort’s commanding officer at the time of the battle, and of Francis Scott Key. A water taxi from the Inner Harbor is a great way to reach the fort.
National Museum of American History
1400 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20560(202) 633-1000(202) 633-5285
A few blocks west along the grassy National Mall from the Capitol Building is the National Museum of American History. Perhaps foremost among its displays is the most famous artifact leftover from the War of 1812—or perhaps any war—the enormous battle flag that flew above Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. It is, of course, known to nearly everyone as the Star-Spangled Banner.
National Museum of History and Technology
1000 Jefferson Drive
Washington, D.C. 20560(202) 633-1000
The National Museum of History and Technology, better known to many visitors as the Smithsonian Castle, offers fascinating artifacts and exhibits related to the burning of Washington and the siege of Baltimore. The castle is located almost directly across the Capital Mall from the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Admission to both museums is free of charge.
801 Front Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23508(757) 640-1720 (Norfolk Historical Society)
During the late 1800s, the Washington Administration ordered construction of 19 coastal forts. The only one that still stands is Fort Norfolk in Virginia. During the War of 1812, when the USS Constellation was trapped here by a British blockade, the crew of the ship joined the garrison. Although largely abandoned during the 19th century, the fort has been handsomely renovated by the Norfolk Historical Society. Located at Colley Avenue and Front Street, the fort is open to the public.