7 Unbelievable Images of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry Where the National Anthem Was Written

The Bombardment of Fort McHenry became an important stand for American soldiers against the British in the War of 1812.

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Walter Martin Baumhofer’s The Star Spangled Banner

Walter Martin Baumhofer is mostly known for his work in pulp magazines but he depicted the bombardment of Fort McHenry with this painting. Presumably that’s Francis Scott Key in the center of the painting since he was detained on a British ship while the bombardment took place. He watched the whole affair from the British ship and the next morning when we saw the American flag still waving, it inspired him to write a poem about the experience. Do you know these 10 fun flag facts?

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Bombardment of Fort McHenry

L. Kenneth Townsend created this illustration to depict what the battle might have looked like. British ships floated off the shore and bombarded the fort for 25 hours. American soldiers thwarted the attack and the British later sailed away to Jamaica before embarking on an attack on New Orleans, which they also lost. That battle proved the last major battle in the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson led the American forces against the British in New Orleans and later became president of the United States. You’ve seen the elegant presidential homes before but have you seen the incredibly bland presidential homes?

New York Public Library

The Flag that Inspired The Star-Spangled Banner 

Maj. George Armistead served as commander of Fort McHenry and the story goes that he wanted the flag large enough that the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance. That size might have made a difference in Francis Scott Key being able to see it so well, too. The flag, designed by Mary Pickersgill, measured 42 by 30 feet. It’s now displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Do you know the history of each state flag? Many of them will surprise you.

Bombardment of Fort McHenryNew York Public Library

Naval History

This image in the New York Public Library comes from 1845, just a few decades removed from the War of 1812. Though there is definitely not a scale used for the picture, it’s interesting to try to picture a scene of ships firing cannons at a fort. Key captured the scene with his words and later put music to them when it was set to a popular British song To Anacreon in HeavenThe Star-Spangled Banner actually has four stanzas, though only the first gets sung these days. Find out some more surprising U.S. history facts, like why the bald eagle wasn’t supposed to be the national bird.

New York Public Library

Bombardment of Fort M’Henry

With this image of the bombardment of Fort McHenry it’s a little easier to see where Key found lines like “the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air.” See how you should fly your flag at home and learn proper flag etiquette.

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“Our Flag Was Still There”

Artist Don Troiani is known for his authenticity in his work, saying that if a historical painting is not reasonably accurate, then it’s worthless both as art and as a historical document. In this work he’s set out to depict the defense of Fort McHenry by displaying American soldiers manning the guns in the upper water battery at the height of the bombardment.

Everett Historical/Shutterstock

“By Dawn’s Early Light”

Artist Percy Moran created this painting of Francis Scott Key to recreate the moment when Key saw the American flag still wavering the morning after the bombardment. Even in 1912 The Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t yet recognized as the national anthem. It wasn’t until 1931 when Herbert Hoover signed the bill to make it the national anthem. Previously it had been used by the Navy at official ceremonies and just started getting played at sporting events in 1918 at the World Series to drum up patriotic spirit as World War I took place.

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