Friday, July 16, 2010

The Rockets' Red Glare

Since it is July still and the 4th just recently past did you know:

"The Star-Spangled Banner" lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry" a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. (according to Wiki)

I recently learned in a Podcast (Stuff You Missed in History Class) that Key was in the brig on a British frigate along with John Stuart Skinner, across the harbor while watching this attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The British had a weapon, Congreve rocket, that exploded above the target to cause damage below because the armament were so strong from the front and this is the farthest firing weapon they had. The British had to stay a large distance away (over 1.5 miles) from the Forts weapons so these rockets were the only form of attack with the range of 1.75 miles. The Americans couldn't do anything about it until they were out of rockets, 25 hours later!

The storm flag was flying the during the attack at night. Key didn't know if we survived or not until the sun came back up and they raised their huge American flag that was ordered by Major George Armistead. He expressed desire for a very large flag to fly over the fort, the Great Garrison Flag, the largest battle flag ever flown at the time.

This was a major win at the time considering Washington, D.C. was already taken.

It is sad to know that the flag later caused a family to feud, so it was later cut into pieces so everyone would be happy.

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

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