The Baltimore area is filled with historical monuments and landmarks. One of the most important landmarks to the city of Baltimore is Fort McHenry. This weekend, the Marines are invading Fort McHenry! The United States Marine Corps Historical Company will be camping at Fort McHenry on July 27th and 28th to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812. The Marines will lead special events and programs all weekend. There will be displays, historical uniforms, cannon fire, a full military dress parade and living history information. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the War of 1812 and how the Marines and Fort McHenry played a role in protecting the city of Baltimore from British invasion.
Fort McHenry was built between 1799 and 1802 to protect the growing city of Baltimore from invasion and privateers. The fort is built in a 5 pointed star design. The fort played a role in serving and protecting the city during the War of 1812, The Civil War, World War I and World War II. Fort McHenry is best known for being the place where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” after seeing the American flag still flying over the fort during the Battle of Baltimore from September 12 to 15, 1814. The famous flag, now at the Smithsonian National History of America Museum, is the largest garrison flag ever flown. The flag is 30ft high and 42ft long. The flag represented the (at the time) 15 states of the United States with 15 stars and 15 stripes.
The fort continued to be in use throughout the years to World War II. During the Civil War, Fort McHenry served as a Union transfer prison camp for Southern sympathizers and Confederate prisoners of war. At one point during the war, after the Battle of Gettysburg, there were nearly 7,000 prisoners kept at the fort. During World War I, the fort was used as a 3,000 bed receiving hospital. More than 20,000 wounded and sick soldiers from the fields in Europe were treated at Fort McHenry before either being returned to their units for active duty or sent home. The hospital closed in 1923 and the War Department made the fort a national park. In 1942, Fort McHenry was commissioned again to be used as a training ground for the United State Coast Guard during World War II. Temporary buildings were built to house the trainees who were being taught everything from preventing sabotage to policing tactics.
Today, none of the hospital or training buildings survive, but the core 5 star fort building and garrison building still stands. There are daily programs describing the history of the fort to visitors including a twice daily flag changing ceremony. Step back in time and see one of Baltimore’s great landmarks at Fort McHenry.