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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  August 24, 2016 2:02pm-2:39pm EDT

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construction work is confined to structures incident of the program being carried out. barracks and administration buildings are usually built for them before they arrive in camp. this garage with their tractors, trucks and so on is for conservation core construction. much of the trail and road work being done requires nothing more than the good old pick and shovel and in some instances the most modern of motorized equipment is being used. there are seasons of the year when the big sur becomes quite unruly and an important part of the work is on the riverbed easing the flow water at flood tide. with 200 active young americans on hand good baseball is an almost inevitable result. miles of babbling brooks, just the sort of place people from the coast like so well.
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>> roads and trails open up new spots frequently require retaining walls and bridges. unfortunate circumstance at cuyamaca, and to keep steam shovels and trucks busy for days. useful and attractive incense cedar, careful choice of the trees which are already dead or are being crowded to death is helping, not hurting the forests. cedar is comparatively easy, splitting into good, clean rails which have splendid, lasting qualities.
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the fence you see being erected is near the core calf. grasshopper is in the beautiful meadows which abound in the park. they are effectively stopped with the diet of poisoned brand. here are the boys who are doing the job, answering the bugle or assembly before the day's work begins. on the ancient pile known as morro rock the old club is being expanded and developed in a manner that will make it attractive and useful to everybody. the conservation core camp will be established near the site of the old cabrillo country club colony. a fine, natural beach is being improved for bathing and the old wooden pier is being replaced with a new pier of modern,
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masonry construction. roads near the beach are being relocated to provide picnic grounds and parking areas. there will be the usual outdoor ovens, freshwater outlets, tables and benches. the state park commission is interested in a purely conservation measure. the development of a wild refuge. banks are being built to shut out the organizations that criss-cross in inlets in the bay and they will make small lakes and lagoons to attract water fowl. russian goats in mendocino county is another of california's parks fronting on the pacific. the shoreline is sharply cut by inlets in which ocean tides lash wildly to create ever-changing water spectacles.
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conservation core boys are policing the beach, clearing it of ocean records that come from the tides from nowhere with the full enjoyment of the south seawater. deep in the forests, they're modifying nature's handiwork in accordance with modern civilization's requirements and roads and trails are being made safe and easy for motor cars and they're making many a sluggish brook and an even more delightful hunt for the clear waters and fallen timber that is a fire hazard are being removed and areas for picnickers are being provided. housing of the conservation core has called for a considerable
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amount of construction in the park. the boys at russian gullch are fond of the manly art and a number of surprisingly expert boxers have been part of the regularly organized tournaments which are held. these lads, worthwhile work outdoors and the fresh air and sunshine, good food, plenty of sleep and an easy mind. looks like a real goal. a well-constructed square circle, gloves light enough to feel the sting of a punch and the gently worn bathrobes. a cheering and enthusiastic audience. these trophies paid for by the boys themselves will recall some of the happiest days in the lads of these fine young americans. ♪
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1 million unemployed young men and war veterans were enrolled in the civilian conservation corps in the first two years of its existence. enrollees are taken from the states on a population per state basis. the country's most experienced organization for a task of such magnitude. each state park corps camp is set up according to a carefully organized plan. a superintendent employed by the state park division of the national park service is in charge of the work. skilled workmen from the vicinity of each camp conduct all work that requires supervision, enrollees serving as helpers. the base pay is $30 a month, $25 of which is mailed to the declared dependents. everything is supplied him. doctors are in regular attendance. direction of this unique and
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fundamentally sound program to preserve and develop a nation's resources by means of a plan that places high value on manpower is in the hands of some of the country's most important individuals. headed by president roosevelt, the man who conceived it and put it into action. ♪ 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 berth of the star-spangled banner. 2014 marks the 200 anniversary of the bombardment of the fort during the war of 1812. the raising of the garrison flag on the fort in the morning after the barrage inspired francis scott key to write the words
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that later became our national anthem. >> that's a huge flag! >> that's huge. >> welcome to fort mchenry. i'm vince vaise. chief of interpretation here. at nighttime we fly a small modern flag. during the day, we fly the 15 star, 15 stripe flag, the same style as the one inspired francis scott key to write the national anthem. key saw that flag at a unique time in american history, a time where american morale was really, really low. a turning point in the war of 1812. a lot of americans don't know much about the war of 1812, so let's explore the war of 1812 and why it was important for francis scott key to see that flag and how it inspired him to write those words that became our national anthem. we're here on the gun deck of fort mchenry, the water battery. this would have been the main line of defense against the
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british ships. why did the british come to baltimore? what a lot of people find surprising is that really the war of 1812 was one of america's most unpopular wars. and i think that's because the causes were so complex, and on one side you can say the united states had a totally good reason to go to war. the british were seizing american ships, dictating who we should trade with, who we could not trade with, stealing american sailers and forcing them into the british navy, and it was deeper than just making up manpower shortage in the british navy. there was a whole question of citizenship that went with that. you know. in the united states, we believed that you could come from a foreign country, say great britain, and come here and live for five years and then you could become a naturalized citizen. however, over in great britain, they believed once a subject always a subject. so a lot of our states men at the time, they were saying, you know, the british are trying to define what an american citizen is. and if we allow them to do that, then we're no better than like
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we were, say, when we were a colony. a lot of americans at that time thought that they had something to live up to, they saw that previous generation like the revolutionary war generation, the founding fathers generation, the spirit of 76, something to live up to. and so a lot of americans say, this war of 1812 is our second war of independence. certainly those who were pro war or the war hawks as they were called, you know, use that language to invoke that spirit of the revolution. they saw the native american issues on the frontier as a powerful reason, saying, hey, the british are inciting the native americans or they called them the savages on the frontier, to shoot american settlers. so for issues about national honor, freedom of trade, rights for sailors or free trade and sailor rights as they said, as well as protection of our own frontier, we have to go to war with great britain, we tried the embargoes, kind of like economic sanctions and it didn't work. the only thing left is to
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declare war against great britain. on june 18th, 1812, the united states declared war against the british. let me give you the british side. one, the british were involved in a bigger war against napoleonic france. they were trying to free europe from the rule of napoleon bonaparte. they needed every sailor they could get to man that royal navy. the british were dominant at see, the french were dominant on land. they had to maintain sea lanes. there were thousands of british sailors who were jumping ship and trying to melt into that american melting pot. though were only getting their own people back. as far as the native american
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issues on the frontier, the united states didn't always live up to the agreements they made with some of the native american nations out there. and so they -- the native americans, a lot were angry at the united states. there were some hot headed american states men who wanted an excuse to take over british canada. and so for some even francis scott key himself said i will not harm the poor unoffending canadians. and key really epitomized many americans, they said, you know what, i don't like what the british are doing. but invading canada is wrong. and so really to this day, the war of 1812 was the most narrowly declared of any american war in which our congress sat to vote to declare that war. here the united states goes into the war of 1812, divided at the home front, unprepared militarily. a lot of our generals were aging hold overs from the revolution, the supplies weren't worked out,
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there was a hope that taking canada would be easy, even the former president thomas jefferson said a mere matter of marching and that was wrong. didn't work out. the first battles in the war of 1812 were all american defeats. and at the end of the year 1812, there were american army soldiers in canada, all prisoners. and so it is not long before the war of 1812 moves into 1813 and behind me is the river that flows into the chesapeake bay. the british were able to use their large 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 for a lot of reasons. one, pennsylvania, maryland, delaware, and virginia were the bread basket of the united states. you bottle up the chesapeake bay, a lot of the goods, the wheat that was exported, that doesn't get to sea. in addition, you have the important sea ports and cities
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of annapolis, baltimore, the new capital washington, d.c., alexandria, virginia, all of those become -- the british are blockading the bay hoping that we would pull our troops out of canada and use them to guard targets closer to home. and also, recognizing that the war being unpopular amongst our own people, if they could get the americans angry at their own government, you know, because the economy isn't doing so well, then that might help end this war of 1812. for the british, the war of 1812 is a distraction. the big wars in europe, all this is but a side show. so 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 seized the royal navy against towns living in the bay. any town that surrendered without a fight would be spared. however, even a small resistance
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that would be burned. to the north of here, a town called havre degrace. the militia put up a quick resistance. but when the royal marines landed, the militia ran away except for one guy. and the british captured him and went into the town and burned those buildings. on the eastern shore of maryland, two little towns, one called fredericktown, one called georgetown. not one near washington, d.c. those towns were burned by the british. also on the eastern shore, the town of st. michaels defended itself pretty well, actually, and drove the british you have. but the british shelled that town and bombarded st. michaels during the war of 1812. so there are a lot of battles, skirmishes and engagements all up and down the chesapeake bay at this time. but in addition to the british and these bombardments and the -- and all that, there was a lot of fear. and the greatest fear was the
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fear of a slave uprising. only recently are historians really talking about the impact of slavery during the war of 1812. and here in maryland, you really had a divided state. the state was divided into support or not to support the war amongst the african-american population. and baltimore city, you had the highest percentage of free african-americans. and a lot of them are supporting the war effort. however, in southern maryland and on the eastern shore of maryland on those tobacco and wheat plantations, you had enslaved african-americans. and the british were 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 and 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 call the colonial core.
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and these were like royal marines. they were trained as royal marines, and 200 of them, some say 400 of them would become part of this colonial corps. this prompted fear that this might prompt a massive slave uprising in this area prompted by the british. it never happened, but there was a fear it could happen. there was a fear that there would be this uprising, a fear that the british could show up any day and bombard your hamlet or small town. and this is the context. it's not surprising that someone like francis scott key who initially opposed the war takes a more active role in the war. key was a slave holder himself. a high-powered lawyer out of georgetown, outside of the district of columbia. francis scott key had respect for the british. he respected british law and british culture.
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however, he was also angered at the declarations the british were doing in the region. any marylander between 18 and 45 years of age, he had to belong to the maryland militia. and if called up, he had to go. and so he was part of the georgetown militia. i have a cannon right here, a field gun. this is the type of field artillery that francis scott key would have been familiar with as part of a georgetown artillery. this is a field cannon as opposed to some of the red guns behind us here who are naval guns. a field gun like this is meant 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'm going to walk around here to the other side.
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>> so coming around to the front of the water battery, just kind of coming into the shade here, i want to talk a little bit about francis scott key's brief military career and the events that really led up to the bombardment of ft. mchenry and the use of this water battery. france 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 drilled and trained periodically. key's big combat experience comes on august 24th at the battle of bladensburg. a small town, only a few miles outside of washington, d.c. in august of 1814, the british sent reinforcements against the united states to really turn the heat up a little bit. at that time, there were negotiators for both the british and the americans meeting -- against belgium, both trying to find common ground to end the war of 1812. on the united states side, we really wanted to get out of the
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war with our honor intact. by this time, the treasury was running out of money, the invasions into canada, all appeared to be failures. we lost a lot of men. and it was really unlikely that we were going to take over canada. however, we didn't want to retreat from our demands about the british laying off our sailors and confiscating our merchant ships. we couldn't back off on that one. the british were also intimating they wanted us to give up the indiana and illinois territories. we weren't going to let that happen. by the same token, the british by the way of turning up the heat realizing by 1814, napoleon had been defeated in europe were able to send some reinforcements from europe to shore up the defenses of canada and also turn up the heat in the chesapeake bay. so thousands of british soldiers landed in southern maryland in late august. they march toward washington, d.c. or washington city as they
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called it at the time, figuring if they could capture our capital, that could bolster their position at the negotiation table. the americans, though, weren't entirely caught off guard, the americans called up the militia from around washington, including georgetown. so francis scott key were there. a few thousand soldiers marched south and hundreds of virginians came up as well as units from the army, united states marine corps and the united states navy. and americans were able to put around 5,000 men on the field at bladensburg. on the 24th of august, a confused battle erupts. the british attack with a few thousand men 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 receive some training, but not as much training as professional soldiers and certainly not nearly as much training as
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battle tested british regular army soldiers. and so they didn't really hold up too well. francis scott key. some say he relied some misorders to some of the american high command. others say he just packed up with the artillery unit and retreated in great haste along with everyone else. who could blame them? so many people were running. one african-american said, quote, the american militia ran like sheep chased by dogs. it was perhaps one of the most disgraceful battles in american military history. the british really won it in a matter of a couple of hours. they did sustain some casualties, but at the close of the day, they were entirely in possession of the field. and in a way, you can say that kind of ends francis scott key's brief military experience. but in a way, francis scott key's journey really begins at that point. the british did sustain about over 300 men killed and wounded
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in the battle. later that night, the british march into washington, d.c., where they take possession of the government buildings. the white house would be burned by the british, house of representatives, senate, burned by the british, the treasury building, burned by the british. but interesting enough, the individual homes of the common folk would be spared. the british also spared the patent office since it was dedicated to science. but standing where i am now, if you look over my shoulder, you see a tree line in the distance and that direction is south. on the night of the 24th of august, residents from baltimore city and soldiers on the fort could see a dim glow in the sky when the government buildings were being burned. no competing light at that point. you could really see that, and everyone knew that it was the capital that had been taken by the british and only a matter of time before the british would
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come to baltimore. the british didn't stay in washington, but more the next day and they soon marched out on the 25th of august to rejoin their fleet. they got what they came from. interesting enough, documents that you can almost consider sacred to our history, the declaration of independence, the constitution. who got those documents out only a day or two before the british take possession of the capitol. even the declaration may have been burned had it been left there. the british, though, marched back to their ships and sailed away. they have to leave their wounded behind. this begins an interesting human story. a local resident named dr. william beans lived in a town called upper marlboro. which isn't too far away from washington, d.c. as the british were moving through his town, a few british stragglers decided to raid his
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hen house and create mischief in town. perhaps they were only supplementing their rations with local poultry. however, dr. william beans, a feisty man in his 70s took a few of them prisoner. one of them managed to escape and reported this to the british high command. only days prior as the british advance through upper marlboro, he put on a phenomenal act pretending he was pro-british, saying he was educated in great britain, which he may have been. certainly given 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 report seemed to indicate he was putting up a front and the british were very angry. they saw him as misrepresenting himself or perhaps even worse, breaking his word as a gentleman. and the british went and took him prisoner and brought him
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down to the fleet. and this news spread like wildfire. dr. william beans was a respected citizen. some say the leading citizen of upper marlboro. dr. william beans 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, seen as something out of the ordinary. and so the federal government sends john skinner, the prison of war exchange agent to try to negotiate the release of dr. william beans. however, beans also had a friend in the man of francis scott key. francis scott key receives word of dr. beans being apprehended by the british and volunteers to go to help negotiate the release. i have a lot of respect for key for this because, first, he volunteered to do it. second, when he volunteered, who
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knows how long this negotiation process would take. and if the british took one civilian prisoner, who's to say that key might not be the prisoner. left behind a law practice that's not doing very well. and in 1814, key was also considering going into the ministry, perhaps being a episcopalian minister. he also considered, perhaps, becoming a newspaper editor. so even key was still deciding what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. a lot of soul searching for key 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 dr. beans released. he meets some of the british wounded who were taken at the battle of bladensburg and recovering at bladensburg and were nursed by other doctors and gets letters of testimony saying that other doctors in good faith nursed the wounded on both sides. with those letters, he was able
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to go back to negotiate with the british showing that, hey, you know, maybe this doctor misrepresented himself but other american doctors certainly helped your guys. in early september, key and skinner, right, if you look at the body of water behind me here, this is the upper part of the river where it flows into the inner harbor of baltimore city. and really on this body of water if you were standing here, you would see a small ship, a packet ship going down the river to rendezvous with the british. a few days later, they rendezvous with a huge british armada of about 50 ships coming up the bay, under a flag of truce, the british negotiate with the british high command. key and skinner are allowed into the admiral's cabin. there's a negotiation no doubt over some fine meal and port wine for dessert.
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in the course of negotiation, perhaps gave key and skinner a hard time. but they ultimately relented and let dr. beans go free. however, on one condition that they had to witness the bombardment of ft. mchenry and the attack on baltimore. because as these negotiations were taking place, the british high command figured that key and beans or key and skinner had seen too much of their preparations to attack baltimore. they wanted to make sure they didn't go back and tell all they knew. and so now the stage is set for key to be an eyewitness to the bombardment of ft. mchenry and the british attack on baltimore. again, this is coming only about 2 1/2 weeks after the destruction of the government buildings in washington, d.c., a time in our nation where there were numerous battlefield defeats in canada. a time where the war had not been going well, where the treasure was bankrupt. and many people thought that baltimore would 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
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and look out over that water battery. and i'll show you exactly where the british ships were when they were spied on september 11th, 1814. so we're up here on the water battery, the main gun deck, the main weapons of ft. mchenry's defense system in 1814. these are the guns that won the battle. these are the guns that are going to fend off the british ships during ft. mchenry's finest hour. on september 11th, if we look through this here, looking down the river, the modern bridge, the francis scott key bridge, about where that bridge is, just beyond it is where you would see an armada. something like a forest of masts, white sails, 50 british ships right here where the river
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flows into the chesapeake bay. amongst that armada is one small packet ship bearing francis scott key, john skinner, and dr. william beans. the attack on baltimore is going to begin. looking down the river, if you look to the left, you'll see a small land mass, that's north point. and on the early morning hours of the 12th of september, about 5,000 british soldiers have dropped off at north point. and their goal was to march overland to take the city by land. it starts off like they took washington, a land assault. they run into an american advance guard of about 2,600 militia men, about five miles as the crow flies. this is called the battle of north point. and it was a pretty good battle. the americans fire, fall back, fire. it's about two hour long battle, the british lose about 310 men
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killed, the americans lose over 200, and the americans pull back. but the americans give as good as they got. they killed one of the british generals, major general robert ross and withdrew to defenses closer to the city. on the outskirts of the city of baltimore, americans dug about a mile worth of entrenchments. and you would have seen free african-americans, richest gentlemen, women bringing jugs of water down to refresh everybody. some of the enslaved. it was really a herculean effort to get those defenses ready in time. militia came in from all over the state, northern virginia and southern pennsylvania. so when the british closed into the outskirts of the city, they could see that there were 15,000 american defenders waiting for them. and those defenders were dug in, backed up by artillery similar to the cannon i'm standing next to now. so the british realized very quick that taking the city by land may very well prove suicidal.
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they chose 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 closed into bombard ft. mchenry. about 15 ships peel off and come up. you can see a large black tanker, that's where the british bombardment squadron was coming on. this cannon is p mounted with a naval gun. and this is the type of cannon ball that it would shoot. this is an 18-pound solid shot. so this cannon would fire this cannon ball weighing about 18 pounds and hurdle it over a mile. it travels at a little over 900 miles an hour. but it does not blow up. it's solid. solid shot. or as they called it at the time, shot. whether it slammed into a wooden hull of a ship or the brick wall of a fort or cut a person in half.
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those cannon balls could smash into things. and in addition to that, they had brick ovens behind the guns. but it does not blow up. it's solid. solid shot. or as they called it at the time, shot. whether it slammed into a wooden hull of a ship or the brick wall of a fort or cut a person in half. those cannon balls could smash into things. and in addition to that, they had brick ovens behind the guns. hot shot furnaces where they could heat the cannon balls up until they were almost glowing hot, ram down the bag of gun powder, wet rags and a block of wood or some mud. so in the early morning hours, around 6:00 in the morning, to really about 7:00, 8:00, the british and the guns here at the fort are trading shot to shot. the british had cannons very similar to this. if you see where the tug boats are beyond the tug boats is where the squadron would have been. just a little further away. and one man said it sounded like thunder when the fort's cannons fired. one militia man said i could see
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a number of our shots strike them in many instances. you could probably see geysers of water kicking up around the ships where there were misses. but the british were getting the worst of it. by 10:30, the british high demand on sea realized and it would be very unlikely they could support the land forces. that didn't stop the british from trying. they changed their tactics. they backed off beyond the range of the fort's guns, and began a long range bombardment. i'll share a little story about major george armestad. his frustration. let's come to the back of this cannon and i'll show you. if you come around here to the back of the cannon. you see these wedges that are called coins. this is how you elevate and depress the cannon barrel. as they were pulling away from the fort, the commander of this fort gave the orders that these wedges were to be taken out of the guns.
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so the barrels were hiked up as high as they could go. and for twice the amount of the gun powder to be rammed into the barrels to try to eke out more range of the shot that these guns would fire. after a couple of guns flip over backwards this dangerous practice is done with. basically the british were simply too far away and even the guns that didn't flip over, they could see the cannon balls splashing in the water. reluctantly the order is passed down to cease fire. armestad did something, though, 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 early 19th century and ft. mchenry is no exception. there would also be a smaller flag, 17 by 25 feet. these flags were made in the city of baltimore by mary g


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