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Home > History > The Siege of Baltimore

The Siege of Baltimore

This articles describes the Siege of Baltimore in the War of 1812.

Fort McHenry

Siege of Baltimore

A Turning Point

The siege and bombardment at Baltimore in 1814 was the turning point in the War of 1812. After routing American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg, and subsequently burning Washington to the ground, British land and naval forces hoped to further demoralize the Americans by destroying port of Baltimore.

The British Attack Baltimore Harbor

The well-fortified city of Baltimore was under the command of Samuel Smith. The British initially chose to attack by land, but American defenses were much stronger than anticipated. Furthermore, British Commander Robert Ross was killed during the British excursion, and the decision to attack Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor was made. American forces concentrated in and around Fort McHenry to prepare to defend it against the impending attack. Before the battle, commander of the fort George Armistead, ordered the sinking of a line of American merchant ships to prevent British ships from gaining access to the harbor.

The Americans Refuse to Surrender

On the night of September 13, 1814, British naval forces began firing shells and rockets at Fort McHenry. The bombardment continued for more than 27 hours. During the bombardment, Francis Scott Key, who was a temporary British prisoner, became inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner on the back of an envelope. He originally named his poem "Defense of Fort McHenry." When it became apparent the Americans would not surrender the fort, British forces withdrew from the region and set their sights on New Orleans.

War of 1812 Battles

November 7th, 1811 - Battle of Tippecanoe
July 17, 1812 - Battle of Fort Mackinac
August 15, 1812 - Massacre at Fort Dearborn
October 13, 1812 - Battle of Queenston's Heights
January 22, 1813 - Battle of Frenchtown
March 30, 1813 - Battle of Lacolle Mills
April 27, 1813 - Battle of York
May 1-9, 1813 - Siege at Fort Meigs
August 15-16, 1813 - Surrender of Fort Detroit
September 10, 1813 - Battle of Lake Erie
October 5, 1813 - Battle of Thames
1813-1814 - Creek War
July 5- 1814 - Battle of Chippawa
July 25, 1814 - Battle of Lundy's Lane
August 24, 1814 - Battle of Bladensburg
August 25, 1814 - The Razing of Washington
September 6-11, 1814 - Battle of Plattsburgh
September 12-14, 1814 - Siege of Baltimore
November 11, 1814 - Battle of Crysler's Farm
January 8, 1815 - Battle of New Orleans

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