Photo Tour

Historic Sites in Baltimore: The War of 1812 Photo Tour

Baltimore and the War of 1812

After years of friction over US maritime rights, affairs between the US and Great Britain came to a head in the spring of 1812, when President James Madison declared war. The War of 1812 had raged on for almost two years before a fiercely fought battle at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine brought the people of Baltimore together to defend the city.

Come see how this war inspired influential historical events in Baltimore, including the creation of our flag and national anthem.

The War Comes to Baltimore

Though the fighting during the war’s first year was confined to the north along the Canadian border, in spring 1813, the British decided to bring the war “home” to Americans living along the coast. The following year, British forces marched on Washington, setting fire to several public buildings, including the President’s House and the Capitol. They then turned their eyes towards Baltimore.

A Fight for National Existence

From this point, the War of 1812 became more than just a fight over free trade; it became a fight for national existence. To demonstrate this national pride, the commander at Fort McHenry commissioned Mrs. Mary Young Pickersgill to make a flag that would fly over Fort McHenry and could be easily seen from the water. A special window display at Baltimore's Star-Spangled Banner Flag House depicts a replica of this first flag that flew over Fort McHenry.

Visit the Home of The Star-Spangled Banner

At the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, you can also learn more about the Battle of Baltimore, as well as the life of Mary Pickersgill, who lived and worked in the house when she sewed the famous Star Spangled Banner flag.

The Inspiration for the National Anthem

It was this very flag that inspired amateur poet Francis Scott Key to pen a poem which later became our national anthem. Today you can see a copy of the original poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry," at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

Historic Sites in Baltimore: The War of 1812 Photo Tour Places to Visit