tv American Artifacts CSPAN September 20, 2014 10:00am-10:51am EDT
presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. lectures in history, with top college professor delving into america's past and our new series, reel america featuring archival films from the 19 raised through the 70's. c-span3 -- created by the local -- by the cable tv industry. watch us on tv, follow us on facebook and twitter. >> each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. next, we visit fort mchenry national monument and historic shrine in baltimore to learn about the birth of the "star spangled banner." 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the british bombardment of
the fort during the war of 1812. the raising of the garrison flag over the fort on the morning after inspired francis scott key to write the words that became our national anthem. >> welcome to fort mchenry, the birthplace of "the star spangled banner." at night time, we fly a small modern flag. during the day, a 15-star, 15-stripe flag, the same style that inspired francis scott key. he saw that flag at a time where american morale was really low. a turning point in the war of 1812. a lot of americans do not know much about the war of 1812. let's explore why it was important for francis scott key to have seen that flag and how that inspired him to write those words that became our national anthem.
we're now here on the gun deck of fort mchenry. we also call it the water battery. as would have been the main line of defense against the british ships. the war of 1812 was one of america's most unpopular wars. that is because the causes were complex. on the one said, you could say the united states had a totally good reason to go to war. the british were dictating who we should trade with, stealing american sailors and forcing them into the british navy. it was deeper than just making up the manpower shortage in the british navy. there was a question of citizenship. in the united states, we believe that if you come from a foreign country, say great britain, and come here to live for five years and then you become a naturalized citizen. over in great britain, they believe once a subject, always a subject. so a lot of our statement at the time were saying, the british are trying to define what an american citizen is. if we allow that, then we are no better than we were as a colony. a lot of americans at that time
thought that had something to live up to. they saw that previous generation, like the revolutionary war generation, the founding fathers, the spirit of 1776, as something to live up to. a lot of americans, this war of 1812 is our second war of independence. those who were the war hawks use that language to invoke that spirit of the revolution. they saw the native american issues on the frontier as a powerful reason. "hey, the british are inciting the native americans, or as they called them the savages, to shoot american settlers." for issues of national honor, freedom of trade, rights for sailors or free trade in sailors rights, as well as protection of our own frontier. we had to go to war with great britain. we tried embargoes, kind of like economic sanctions. it did not work.
they tried sending statements -- statesmen over to negotiate. that did not work. the only thing left was to declare war. on june 18, 1812, the united states declared war against the british. let me give you the british side. that is one, the british were involved in a bigger war against the napoleonic france. the way the british saw themselves, they were liberators. they were the ones trying to free europe from the role of napoleon bonaparte. here they needed every sailor they could get to man that royal navy. the british were dominant at sea, the french were dominant on land. for the british to win the napoleonic wars, they had to
maintain a sea lanes. there were thousands of british sailors that were jumping ship. so in some cases they really were only getting their own people back. as far as the native american issues on the frontier, the united states did not always live up to the agreements they made with some of the native american nations out there. so the native americans, a lot of them were angry at the united states. there were some hotheaded americans he wanted an excuse to take over british canada. for some, all these other reasons were just a red herring, an excuse to go and invade canada and acquired some land to the north. even francis scott key himself said, i will not harm the poor, unoffending canadians. and key epitomizes many americans. i do not like what the british are doing, but invading canada is wrong. so really to this day, the war of 1812 was the most narrowly declared of any american war in
which our congress set to vote to declare that war. united states goes into the war of 1812, divided at the home front, unprepared militarily. a lot of our generals were aging holdovers from the revolution. the supplies were not worked out. there was a hope that taking candidate would be easy, even the former president, thomas jefferson, set, "a mere matter of marching." that was totally wrong. the first battles of the war of 1812 for all american defeat. at the end of the year 1812, there were american army soldiers in canada. they were all prisoners. so, it is not long before the war of 1812 moves into 1813. behind me is the patapsco river and that flows into the chesapeake bay. the british were able to use their navy to blockade a lot of the east coast of the united states, turned the chesapeake bay into a british lake. the chesapeake bay was important. one, pennsylvania, maryland, delaware, and virginia where the bread basket of the united states. you bottle up the chesapeake
bay, a lot of the goods, the wheat, does not get to sea. in addition, you have the important seaports and cities of annapolis, baltimore, the new capital washington, d.c. alexandria, virginia. all of those become bottled up when you blockade the chesapeake bay. so the british are blockading the bay hoping we would pull our troops out of canada and use them to guard targets closer to home. and also recognizing that the war would be unpopular amongst our own people, if they could get the americans angry at their own government, because the economy is not doing so well, then that i help end the -- might help end the war. for the british, the war of 1812 is a distraction. the big war is in europe. they want to bring the war of 1812 to a conclusion as quickly as they can. the war of 1812 here in the chesapeake bay really sees the royal navy against the number of small towns. the british had a proclamation, any town that surrendered without a fight would be spared. however, even the small resistance that town would be
burned. to the north, there is a town called havre de grace. that town was burned. the militia put above quick resistance. when the royal marines landed, the militia ran away except for only one guy. and the british captured him and went into the town and burned those buildings. on the eastern shore of maryland, two towns, one called frederick town, one called georgetown -- not the one near washington, d.c. those towns were burned. in the eastern shore, the town of saint michaels defended itself pretty well. and drove the british off. but the british bombarded st. michael's during the war of 1812. so there are a lot of addled skirmishes and engagements up and down the chesapeake bay. in addition to the british, and these apartments and all that,
-- bombardments and all that, there was a lot of fear. and the greatest fear was the fear of a slave uprising. only recently our historian talking about the impacts of slavery during the war of 1812. and here in maryland, you had a divided state. the state was divided into support or not support the war. amongst the african-american population in baltimore city . you had the highest percentage of free african-americans. a lot of them are supporting the war effort. in southern maryland, and on the eastern shore of maryland, on those tobacco and wheat plantations, you had slaves. and the bridge for offering freedom to any enslaved african american who would come over to their side. and especially a year later, in 1814, thousands of african-americans are now coming over to the british. the british are giving them their freedom. most of them were younger guys who could escape, and they had
the option of belonging to what they called the colonial corps. these were trained as royal marines. about 200 of them, some say 400, would be calm part of this colonial corps. this prompted fears among slaveholders that this might prompt a massive slave uprising prompted by the british. it never happened. but there was a fear that it could happen. so there was a fear that there would be an uprising, a fear that the british could show up any day and bombard your town. and this is the context. it is not surprising that someone like francis scott key, who initially opposed the war, takes a more active role. key was a slave holder. he was a high-powered lawyer out of georgetown. just outside of the district of columbia. francis scott key has respect for the british, respective british law and culture.
however, he was also angered at the depredations that the british were doing in the chesapeake bay. like any marylander between 18 and 45 years of age had to belong to the maryland militia. if called up, he had to go. he was part of the georgetown militia. this is a field gun. this is the type of field artillery that francis scott key would have been familiar with as part of the georgetown artillery. this is a field cannon, as opposed to some of the red guns who are naval guns. a field gun is expected to be highly mobile. francis scott key would see a little bit of combat during the war of 1812, and talk about that combat. i will walk around here to the other side. >> fire!
>> so, coming around to the front of the water battery and coming into the shade, i want to talk a little bit about francis scott key's military career and the events that led up to the bombardment of fort mchenry and the use of this water battery. francis scott key was part of the georgetown artillery militia unit, citizen soldiers. he would've had a uniform, and during the summer of 1814 they would have trained periodically. key's combat experience comes on august 24 at the battle of bladensburg. in august of 1814, the british have sent reinforcements against the united states to turn the heat up a bit. at that time, there were negotiators meeting in belgium to find common ground to end the
war of 1812. on the united states side, we really wanted to get out of the war with our honor intact. by this time, the treasury was running out of money. the invasions into canada all seemed to be failures. we lost a lot of men. it was unlikely that we were going to take over canada. however, we did not want to retreat from our demands about the british laying off our sailors and confiscating our merchant ships. so we could not back off on that one. the british were also intimating that they wanted us to give up the indiana territory. we were not going to let that happen. by the same token, the reddish in the way of turning up the heat realizing that by 1814 napoleon had been defeated in
europe, were able to send some reinforcements from europe to shore up the defense to canada and also turn up the heat in the chesapeake bay. so thousands of british soldiers landed in southern maryland in late august. they marched overland towards washington, d.c. or washington city, as they called it that the time. figuring if they could capture our capital, that could holster their position as negotiation table. the americans were not entirely caught off guard. the americans called up the initial from around washington, including georgetown. so francis scott key was there. a few thousand soldiers from baltimore city marched south to help defend. and hundreds of virginians came up as well as units of the regular army, the united states were corps and navy. the americans were able to put around 5000 men on the field at bladensburg. the british attack with 2009, and the americans are almost instantly thrown into disarray.
the president of the united states himself, james madison, gallops away from the battlefield. some of the american positions are quickly overrun. and whole american units break and run away. american militia units received some training but not as much training as professional soldiers and certainly not as much as battle tested british regular army soldiers. so, they did not really hold up too well. francis scott key, some say that he relayed some misorders. others say that he packed up with the artillery unit and retreated along with everyone else. who can blame him? one african-american, an american sailor named charles ball said, "the american militia ran like she chased by dogs." it was one of the most disgraceful battles in american military history. the british won in a matter of a couple of hours. they did sustain casualties, but at the close of the day, they were entirely in possession of the field.
in a way, you can say that ends francis scott key's brief military experience. but in a way, francis scott key's journey to fort mchenry begins at that point. the british did sustain over 300 men killed and wounded in the battle. later that night, the british marched into washington, d.c. where they took possession of the government buildings. the white house was burned by the british. the house of representatives, senate burned. the treasury building burned by the british. interestingly enough, the individual homes would be spared. the british also spared the patent office. standing where i am now, if you look over my shoulder, you can see a tree line in the distance. that direction is south. on the night of 24 of august, residents from baltimore city and soldiers on duty at the fort could see a glow in the sky. no competing lights at that point. you can really see that, and everyone knew that it was the
capital that had been taken by the british, and that it was only a matter of time before the british would come to baltimore. the british did not stay in washington, but more then the next day, and they soon marched out on the 25 of august to rejoin their fleet. they got what they came for. interestingly enough, documents that you can almost consider sacred to our history, the declaration of independence, the constitution, narrowly saved by some american government clerk who got those documents out only a day or two before the british took possession of the capital. even the declaration may have been burnt had it been left there. the british marched back to their ships and sailed away. they had to leave their wounded behind. this begins a rather interesting human story. a local resident, a man named
dr. william beanes, he lived in upper marlboro. as the british were moving through his town, a few british stragglers decided to raid his penthouse and create mischief in the town. perhaps they wanted to desert from the british or there were only supplementing their rations with local poultry. dr. william beanes' a feisty man in his 70's it took a few of them prisoner. one of them managed to escape and reported this to the british high command. only days as the british advance to upper marlboro, dr. beanes pretended he was pro-british, saying he was educated in great britain, which he may have been, but certainly giving the illusion that his sentiments tended to lean more with the british and not with the americans in spite of where he was living. however, this seemed to indicate that dr. beanes was putting up a front. they saw him as breaking his
word as a gentleman. and the british went and took him down to the fleet. this news spread like wildfire. dr. william beanes was a leading citizen. he was also a civilian. and while it was considered normal for both sides to apprehend sailors and soldiers as prisoners, taking civilians as a prisoner was seen as not really part of what the war was about. something out of the ordinary. and so, the federal government sends john skinner, the prisoner of war exchange agent, to try to negotiate the release. however, beanes had a friend in francis scott key. francis scott key receives word of dr. beanes being apprehended, and he volunteers to negotiate the release. i have a lot of respect for key. first, he volunteered to do it.
second, when he volunteered, who knows how long the negotiation process would take? if the british took one civilian prisoner, who is to say that key might not be the next? he left behind a wife and six children. key left behind a law practice that was not doing very well. in 1814, key was considering going into the ministry, perhaps being an episcopalian minister. he also consider perhaps becoming a newspaper editor. so even key was still decided what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. a lot of soul-searching at that time. a lot of soul-searching for our nation at that time. and key does perhaps one of the greatest things to help get the release. he meets some of the british wounded who were taken at the battle of bladensburg, and gets letters of testimony saying that other american doctors in good faith nursed the wounded on both sides cared with those letters,
he was able to go back to negotiate with the british, showing that, maybe this dr. representative -- mis representative self but other american doctors helped your guys. if you look at the body of water behind me, this is the upper part of the patapsco river where it flows into the inner harbor baltimore third if you were standing here in early september, 1814, you would see a small ship bearing key and skinner going down the river to rendezvous with the british. a few days later they rendezvous with 50 ships coming up the bay. the british negotiate with a high command. key and skinner are allowed in the admiral's cabin. there is a negotiation -- in the course of negotiation,
perhaps the british gave key and skinner a hard time and they ultimately let dr. beanes go free on one condition, that they had to witness the bombardment of fort mchenry and the attack on baltimore. because as the negotiations were taking place, the british high command figured that key and skinner had seen too much of their preparations to attack baltimore. so they wanted to make sure they did not go back and tell all they knew. so now the stage is set for key to be an eyewitness to the bombardment to the british attack on baltimore. this is coming to an half weeks after the destruction of the government buildings and washington, d.c., a time in our nation where there were numerous battlefields in canada. a time where the war had not been going well. the treasure was bankrupt. many people thought that baltimore would just be another one of a long string of defeats. who knows? perhaps we would have to concede
other concessions to the british in order to get out of the war of 1812. let's go up to the water battery and look out over that water battery, and i'll show exactly where the british ships were when they were spied on september 11, 1814. so, we are up here on the water battery, the main gun deck. the main weapons of fort mchenry's defense system. these are the guns that won the battle. they'll fend off ships during fort mchenry's finest hour. september 11, if we looked at this embrasure here, looking down the river, the modern bridge, the key bridge, just beyond it, is where you would see an armada. white sails all along the
horizon. 50 british ships where the patapsco river flows into the chesapeake bay. in that armada is one ship bearing francis scott key, john skinner, and dr. william beanes. the attack on baltimore is going to begin. looking down the river, if you look to the left, that is northpoint. on the early morning hours of the 12th of september, about 5000 british soldiers dropped off at north point. they are going to march overland to take the city by land. really, it starts off very much like they took washington, a land assault. they run into an american advance guard of 2600 militiamen, about five miles as the crow flies. this is called the battle of northport. the americans fall back and fire. it is about two hours long. the british lose 310 men. the americans lose 200. and the americans pull back.
but the americans gave is good as they got. they killed one of the british generals, major general robert ross. the americans withdrew two defenses closer to the city. on the outskirts of the city of baltimore, americans dug a mile worth of entrenchment. you would have seen free african americans, some of the richest gentlemen of the city, white guys, digging. women bringing jugs of water down to refresh everybody. some of the slaves. so when the british closed into the outskirts of the city, they could see that there were 15,000 american defenders waiting. those defenders were dug in backed up by our artillery. so, the british realize very quick that taking the city by land may very well prove
suicidal. so they chose to plan b, and that was to take the city by sea. and on the early morning hours of the 13th of september, the british ships began to bombard fort mchenry. 15 ships peel off. you can see a large cargo ships sitting in the middle -- that is where the british bombardment squadron was coming off. this cannon is mounted like a naval gun. and this is the type of cannonball it was you. this is an 18 pound solid shot. this cannon would fire this cannon ball weighing 18 pounds and heard a little over a mile. it travels a little over 900 miles an hour, but it does not blow up. it is solid shot. whether it slammed into a hull
of a ship or cut a person in half, those cannonballs could smash into things. in addition, they had brick ovens behind the guns, furnaces where they could heat the cannonballs until they were glowing hot. slip in the red-hot cannonball. boom, when you touch the gun off. now that shot can embed itself in the hull of a ship and set the ship on fire. around 6:00 in the morning to 7:00 or 8:00, the british and the guns at the fort are trading shots. the see where those tugboats are. just beyond this where the british bombardment squadron would have been. one man said it sounded like thunder when the cannons fired. one militiamen, private douglas, said, i could see a number of our shots strike their frigates.
you could see geysers of water kicking up around the ships. but the british were getting the worst of it. by 10:30, the high command on sea realizes that the defense was strong and sent a message that it would be very unlikely that they could support the land forces. but that did not stop the british from trying. they changed their tactics. they backed off the on the range of the fort's guns and began a long-range bombardment. i will share a story about major george armistead. his frustration. let's come around here to the back of this cannon and i will show you. you see these wedges. this is how you elevate and depress the cannon barrel. as the british ships were pulling away from the fort,
armistead, the commander, gave the order these wedges were to be taken out of the guns. and for twice the amount of gunpowder, he tried to eke out more range of the shot these guns would fire. after a couple of the guns flip over, this practice is done with. basically the british were too far away, and even the guns did not flip over, they could see the cannonballs splashing into the water. so reluctantly, the order is passed down to cease-fire. armistead did something that was also very important to our story, and that is he had ordered a year prior a huge american flag, one measuring 30 feet high and 42 feet long. big flags were really popular in the 19th century, and fort mchenry is no exception. there would also be a smaller flag, 17 x 25 feet. they were made in the city of baltimore by mary young pickersgill.
her 13 year old daughter and grace, an african american indentured servant, and the help of some nieces were laboring on this huge flag, fixing it during the hot summer of 1813. those flags were delivered here. the larger of the two flags, we will call "star spangled banner." when the battle began, the big flat was on the pole on the fort. it was overcast. it started to rain. as the british are withdrawn, and as these coins are taken out. and the order was passed to cease-fire, it starts to rain. armistead orders the flags to be changed. the smaller flag is hoisted up. even those flags made of wool, the smaller of the two flags would hang limp after half an
hour. this is where we come to the high point of the bombardment. there had to be an abject feeling of hopelessness amongst the defenders, because with these special orders, the british could throw these 200 pound bombs into the fort. so, by the way, wanted to show you that this water battery was the main line of defense. this was the largest cannon that was here. we were down at 18 pounds before. this barrow was original to the war of 1812. you can see the casting date of 1809. these guns were cast in europe. prior to the war of 1812, some of these guns were in the french consulate's warehouse. not long before the battle, they were installed at fort mchenry.
a cannon this massive will fire 36 pound ball over a mile. so, no wonder the british never wanted to get very close. if you look down here at the cannonball, you can see a difference between me 18 pound shot the fort fired, and the 36 pound spot. if i was the royal navy, i would not want to get that close to that. which meant that to win the battle, they had to conduct a long-range bombardment. if you think this 36 pound shot is big, wait until i show you the bridge bombs that burst in air. let's see those. one more thing before we go into the fort is how strong these defenses were and why the british chose a long-range bombardment instead of trying to take the fort straight on. if you look behind me, you will see a lighthouse. that was not there at the time. at that neck of the channel, the
american strong up the chain-link boon. imagine telephone poles chain together. that's blocked the channel. behind that, americans had a rowboat with canon. behind that, the americans sunk ships. for the british to win the battle and get their vessels into the port of baltimore to destroy the city, they would have had to have knocked out that chain, saw through it, fight off the american boats, raise the sunken ship, and knock out all of the cannons of fort mchenry. it was tough. so the british decided on a long-range bombardment, hoping they can knock out the guns of the fort, maybe scare the americans. that is why they chose to rely on the five ships that could fire a 200-pound shell two miles. everyone knew that the cannons of the time are only good for a
little more than one mile. they anchor halfway to the bridge. the british had one rocket ship. a british rocket is as big as we are. they look like fiery fingers in the night sky. or during the day they look like a jet plane. [whistles] they would come in, boom and explode in and around the fort. they were not that accurate, but if you have never seen one before and if you are a defender and it is your first battle, it was like shock of awe of 1814. let's go take a look at that shell. so there's a bomb that did not
burst in air. this is the first bomb that was thrown in. this is a witness. basically, it weighs 200 pounds. and then it's so heavy, with 13 pounds of black powder. how do they get into the mortar barrel to shoot. there was a crane to come down. they would have hooks. winch it up like a wrecking ball and lower it down into the chamber. boom, they would shoot it off in that millisecond out of the barrel. the fuse would go in here. flame would lick around and ignite the fuse.
the fuse is burning down. when it's rooftop high, boom, the whole things breaks apart like an eggshell. that is how it is supposed to work. now if the fuse is cut too short, it will burst in air over the water. it was raining that night of the battle. that could have been what happened to this shell. keep in mind, that even if it is a dud, if it lands on you, it will crush you like a bug. if it hits the side of a building, it could take the whole wall down. they said, you could feel the ground shake when a bomb would explode over the fort. there were some direct hits on this fort. one direct hit hit the wall of this building and struck at a glancing blow. 300 barrels of gunpowder were in
this building during the battle. a shell hit on the side of the building. it did not go off. it had everyone. if that went inside, it would've been like an atomic bomb going off in the fort and change the outcome of the battle. during the night of the battle, guys were running into the magazine and taking barrels of gunpowder. but there were some direct hits, and i think they show the types of defenders who were here. there is one hit that landed on a bastion. there's a guy, levi, he was an officer, a lieutenant of the militia. very prominent businessman. and private douglas wrote, "i saw a shell burst behind the man next to me, sending a piece of iron through his neck and came out his stomach.
killed him instantly. it shows you the power of one shell. he had full-blown military funeral. his name was on a special monument known as the battle monument in downtown baltimore. for a long time, people remembered that guy. not too much further away at fort mchenry behind the fort were infantry soldiers, guys armed with muskets. one of those soldiers, a private, his name was frederick -- but he was born in slave, he changes his name. joins the american army and then his regiment is sent to fort mchenry. a shell very much like this one explodes near him, and probably a piece of the shell tears into his right leg. he will linger on for two weeks, and then he dies of infection. no one would remember that guy.
we found that out more recently through research. so here you had one of the richest guys in the city, and here another guy was dirt poor, a slave. you could argue that the guy was not even regarded as a citizen, and yet he dies, too. it shows you the diversity of defenders who came together to defend the flag. the famous and not so famous. however, most of the shells are overshooting or undershooting the fort. the british are choosing to say so far away -- to stay so far way of figuring that we do not care if most of the shells do not hit the target. but the lucky ones were not lucky enough. hour after hour, they are wasting ammunition carried in
the afternoon, the british ships, and closer and then the fort's cannons, the defenders wait for the british to come within range and they open up again. one of the ships is hit five times. the rocket ship has to be towed out of range. they suffered some damage and pulled back. and continue the long-range bombardment into the night. around midnight, the british tried a sneak attack behind the fort, a diversion. almost like in football, if you cannot win by going on a blitz, maybe you try an end run, especially if the defense -- has -- we are going to up on the rampart, and i will show you where the british tried to make that end run. then we will talk about what francis scott key saw. we are going up on the rampart. o'er the ramparts we watch.
there is a new word, rampart. what's he talking about. a fancy word for wall. we are standing on top of the rampart. the top is known as the parapet. that's the mindset of what it's like to be at these points. these points are called bastion. the last bastion of defense, standing over the rampart. here it is the night of the 13th, early morning hours of the 14 of september. these bastions would have been flanked. a deck on the back of the house. cannons would've been mounted. defenders up here. pouring rain. the british tried a diversion. what the diversion, they will send a squadron of gunboats to get in behind the fort. they are to bring 1000 or 1200 guys. it is primarily a diversion.
if they get lucky, they can get it to do the city and create mayhem, but it is mainly a diversion. and the idea is that they will bring their gunboats down this way, so you see that orange ship there. go down that branch of the river. and setting off at midnight, they hug that bank over there, a squadron of barges. so some get lost. half of them go in this direction. if you look that way, you can see interstate 95. that's near a cove. there is a factory to the left. a cove there. the british sailed those gunboats into that cove. what they did not know is that cove was guarded by three forts. there is a battle back there. i wonder what it was like to be here that night into the sky light up. boom, boom. some of the gunboats are sunk.
you can hear the screams of the royal marines as the cannonball splinter into the barges going men and ladies of the other side. the americans are well defended. some americans panicked. two of them run into the city of baltimore. one guy screams out, "all is lost. all forts have surrendered." cooler heads prevail. the bombardment continues to the early hours, and by dawn's early light, the bombardment gradually tapers off. so, it is really around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, it's really quiet. if you look in that direction over there, you can see the modern high-rise buildings of the city of baltimore. old baltimore is pretty much behind all that. but you would've had the trees. so you could see the fort. some people were on the rooftop on the holiday street theatre.
by dawns early light, they could see the british ships, they could see the fort. they could see the battle was over, but the question they had and the question francis scott key had is who won? whose flag is going to be seen on the pole? you cannot see the flag too well by dawn. it had been raining all night. it is hanging totally limp. at 9:00 in the morning, major george armistead, the commander of this fort, gave the orders to change the flag. the small wet flag is hauled down. if you look at this flag, this is the size of the huge 40 x 42 foot -- 30 x 42 foot flag. as the band played "yankee doodle." the british realize they are not going to win the battle.
the channel was too well guarded. they did not want to keep wasting their ammunition. they did not want to come in closer. the only thing left to do was to break off and sail away. they would say they created a grand diversion, that they scared the baltimorians. they did that, but they did not get what they came for. the last british ship was sailing away is when the huge flag went up. one british eyewitness, robert barrett, standing on the stirred of a british -- on the stern of the artist for good, wrote "at 9:00, the americans hoisted a superb ensign." the most important american is francis scott key. look under the bridge, and you
will see a cargo ship here that is about where francis scott key's ship was. he's straining through a spyglass. you can see the red, white, blue spec on the horizon which is the 30 x 42 foot flag. at five miles away, it looks pretty small. but the point is he saw the flag and it was still there. key realize that an important morale victory had been won. he gets a rush of emotion. it is the romantic period in which it was ok for guys to write poetry. so key will write a poem describing his feelings about everything that he experienced leading up to this moment. he'll express his anger at the british, and the british withdrawn, saying their blood has washed out there foul footsteps. key will express his anxiety at not seeing the flag.
oh, say, can you see? does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? he will answer in the second verse, on the shore, we see through the midst of the deep. he will say in full glory reflected, it shines on the stream. 'tis the star-spangled banner. he does see the flag. he sees it the morning after. key puts puts into words what everyone felt in their heart. private douglas described that september morning about the flag. another private, isaac monroe, said that "yankee doodle" played as the star-spangled banner was hoisted over the fort as the garrison sheared. it was a feeling that an important morale victory had
been won. what did it mean? when word got out to the peace negotiators in gent, that the americans held in baltimore, that almost canceled out our defeat of having lost our capital two weeks before hand. in this sense, we had a terrible defeat, but now we had a great victory to balance it out. a few months later, february 16, 1815, the war of 1812 officially ends. the treaty of gent a signed on christmas eve, 1814. it takes a while to get here. it's signed off on the 16th. the war officially ends. the war ends as a tie. we never took over canada. so the canadians and the british can say they one of the war of 1812. but not entirely. they had hoped that they could gain perhaps illinois and
indiana, and they do not gain that. we can legitimately say that we held our own. the united states gained what they hoped to gain, a sense of honor, a sense of respect from other nations. and we certainly did not win the british hands down, but we certainly fall into a tie. that was respectable. it was a war that is united us, but in the last few minutes, united everyone suddenly and the perception of victory. it's that confidence, the two great symbols we got -- the national anthem and the american flag -- it came from the war of 1812, and from the events that happened right here at fort mchenry. the way we see the flag today was born on these ramparts in, september 1814, through the words of francis scott key. every american should visit fort mchenry and you'll feel different when you sing "star spangled banner." >> you can watch this and other
"american artifacts programs anytime by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. tv, a trip tory fort mchenry in baltimore for a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the star-spangled banner with remarks from former secretary of state colin powell, and a flag-raising at the exact time to hundred years ago that francis got key -- francis scott key saw the writing of the american flag. moment, september 14, 1814, inspired key to compose what later became the national anthem and the american victory became a turning point in the war of 1812.