Military History - The Battle of Fort McHenry w/ Evan Seale

The Battle of Fort McHenry

Did you know VRB co-founder Evan Seale is also a military history enthusiast? In our first installment of VRB Military History, Evan shares the origin story of "The Star Spangled Banner" and how it relates to The Battle of Fort McHenry. 

Watch the full video here: 

Or if you're more of a reader, here's the full transcript: 

"Today we're going to talk about the battle of Fort McHenry.  That's where the Star Spangled Banner came from.  It was written based on watching a bombardment on Fort McHenry.  An American named Francis Scott Key was actually on the British ships the night prior to the battle of Fort McHenry.  Francis had gone on the ships to negotiate with the British.

That was during the war of 1812, which followed the American Revolution.  20 years later, you're back in conflict with the British.  And, because he had seen the British positions, their armament and all that good stuff, they didn't let him get off the ship at that point.  They held him captive for the day and night as they carried out their attack.

It was a 25 hour bombardment of Fort McHenry.  Fort McHenry, just to give you a picture of it, it's a Pentagonal bastion fort that's surrounded by a dry moat.   Think of a pentagon on the ground.  It's on Locust Point, kind of high up off of the coastline, looking over into the Chesapeake Bay.  And kind of a cool thing, it was built just a few years prior to this event.  It was a very strategic point from a terrain feature aspect.  It had good fields of view and it protected the port from getting into the Baltimore Harbor, which is exactly where the British were trying to get.  They knew that if they could get into the British harbor and control that they could do some really serious damage to the Americans.

I think I saw something that said that their cannons had a range of about two miles and they just laced them with cannon fire all through the night.  And then in the morning, when Francis thought for sure that the entire fort would be just completely demolished, obviously, the fort was still there and the flag was still flying.

Another thing I think was pretty cool is the flag they flew at Fort McHenry was an American storm flag that was 17 by 25 feet, which is pretty freaking massive.  You might have seen one of these giant flags on a highway while you're driving and you see a giant American flag.  But I mean, just to imagine a flag that big is is pretty crazy.

And not to mention that, you know, after the bombardment, you know, that flag got pretty torn up and then the Americans went out and raised an even bigger flag that was 30 by 40 feet, which is just kind of like a slap in the face to the British.  So here they were, launching rockets and cannon at this fort for 25 hours and in the morning it's still standing.  Everyone is good to go and morale is even higher.  It's just a really cool story of the Americans pushing through and holding their ground and being gritty and fighting through challenges to stay the course."