By Tim Hunt
Fort McHenry is interesting historical tourUploaded: Oct 27, 2016
While staying with friends near Lancaster, PA, we continued our U.S. history lessons with a visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. The fort was the key installation protecting Baltimore during the War of 1812.
An overwhelming British fleet shelled the fort overnight while young lawyer Francis Scott Key, who had sailed out to negotiate the release of a prisoner with the British, watched from the water. When the British finally halted the bombardment, the soldiers raised a huge American flag (40x32 feet) that had been ordered by commander Maj. George Armistead.
That prompted Scott to write the words to the Star Spangled Banner, which became America’s national anthem. It was published in a Baltimore newspaper that week and rapidly spread across the nation.
The British, once the flag was flying, abandoned their attack and sailed away. The attacking fleet had remained just out of range of the fort’s canons, a distance that the U.S. artillery crews kept clear by firing throughout the night.
The park service offered a history of the fort over two centuries (it was a major U.S. military hospital in World War I) as well as a prison during the Civil War. Baltimore was the key city north of Washington D.C. during the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus during the war to arrest suspected Southern supporters.
Among those jailed, ironically, was Francis Scott Key’s grandson. He was jailed and his newspaper closed for articles he published.
Having spent nearly two weeks on the East Coast, I now understand even more clearly why Stanford’s all-purpose back Christian McCaffery did not win the Heisman Trophy last year. More than half of Stanford’s games started at 7:30 p.m. on the West Coast or 10:30 on the East Coast. The prime time 5 p.m. games here kickoff at 8 p.m. in the East.
I tuned into the streaming version of the Oregon-Cal game last Friday night. I went to bed at 12:20 a.m. after the first half ended. With the overtime, the game went until midnight West Coast time or 3 a.m. in the East. I cannot imagine Heisman voters or many other folks other than total red-hot fans staying up until that hour to watch a game.
I had the opposite experience flying back direct to Oakland from Baltimore on Southwest. The six-hour flight went by quite pleasantly as I streamed two live football games on the wireless connection. The mid-afternoon departure coincided nicely with the kickoff of both the Alabama and UCLA-Utah games.