12 September 2014

Maryland celebrates Defenders Day

Today, in Maryland, is Defenders Day. It is a legal holiday in which Maryland residents recall the day in which their ancestors defended the City of Baltimore on 12 September 1814 from the Brits in the War of 1812. The events gave birth to our national anthem as well. This weekend commemorates the 200th anniversary of "The Star Spangled Banner."

On 24 August 2014, the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine unfurled the Star-Spangled Banner Replica at President's Park on the White House Ellipse, located near 15th and E Streets, in Washington, DC.  It was two hundred years to the day that the British burned the White House.

During the War of 1812, British troops captured Washington, DC and burned the White House. This caused President James Madison to flee. Just three weeks later, the British attacked the Baltimore. The British fired more than a thousand rockets and "bombs" on Fort McHenry but Baltimore's defenders stood their ground. The battle was witnessed by Francis Scott Key )at left, from the National Park Service), a lawyer and poet. With some artistic liberty, he described the events in "The Star-Spangled Banner," the song that would become our National Anthem.

"With the British capture of the capital, Americans were looking for a victory. That victory happened three weeks later in Baltimore. The flag represented both a sense of hope during those dark hours as the White House burned and a sense of triumph as the British withdrew from Fort McHenry. The White House and Fort McHenry are linked by this common history," said Vincent Vaise, Chief of Interpretation at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

This weekend, Baltimore invites the nation to a free, city-wide festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of our national anthem. Tall ships, Navy gray hulls and the Blue Angels will come to Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor. There will be living history demonstrations, a family fun-zone, live musical performances, and Chesapeake food and beverage. For more information: www.starspangled200.com.

Was your ancestor a part of history there?
The National Park Service (NPS) includes a database of those who defended Fort McHenry. This database includes known Maryland citizen-soldiers from Maryland as well as federal soldiers who defended Fort McHenry in September 1814. In some cases, individual obituaries, burial sites, and personal notes are included.
I pulled up a random Winters (see right) and found three entries for a Private George Winters. He served under Captain Thomas Quantrill in both the 24th Regiment and the 39th Regiment of the Hagerstown Volunteers.
Sites to explore:
Fort McHenry Guard - http://www.fortmchenryguard.org/
Fort McHenry National Monument - http://www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm
Research Library at Fort McHenry - http://www.fortmchenrylibrary.org/
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.