The War of 1812 - an army on our shores, the fledgling nation's independence at stake, a future in doubt. Retrace the battles and the bravery that saved the nation and birthed our "Star-Spangled Banner."
Open for Exploration
This idyllic view of the sunrise over Benedict on the Patuxent River decries the chaos of March 1812, when the British landed here to invade Washington, D.C.
BENEDICT TO BALTIMORE
Including MD 381, MD 382, US 301, MD 4, I-495, MD 202 & I-295
The British army and navy met up in Upper Marlboro along the Patuxent River. Visit Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park, where you’ll find a spectacular view and access to the river, as well as exhibits. Upper Marlboro is also popular among equestrians who attend events at The Show Place Arena & Prince George’s Equestrian Center and horseback ride on miles of trails in local parks.
At Battle of Bladensburg Waterfront Park, you can see the Anacostia River Bridge, near the site where British forces crossed to attack American defenses in August 1814. In the battle’s aftermath, Rosalie Calvert volunteered slaves to bury the dead, and then collected weapons and other items. Riversdale, as her Federal-period plantation home is known, now offers docent-guided tours and is a favorite place for special events.
British forces soon marched unopposed into Washington, D.C., and burned many of the public buildings before returning to the town of Benedict to re-embark their ships. This route takes you into the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, past College Park, Greenbelt and Beltsville. Attractions in this area range from performing arts venues and an agricultural research center to a NASA space facility and aviation museum.
Including MD 295
The War of 1812 lit up Baltimore in September 1814. Expecting to cruise into the city’s harbor with little resistance, a British fleet was instead frustrated by Lt. Col. George Armistead and his men defending Fort McHenry. Their courage was witnessed by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who had been detained on board a cartel vessel after facilitating an American prisoner’s release. Throughout the night, the British bombarded the fort with Congreve rockets and mortar shells, but by dawn’s early light, Key saw a large American flag — measuring 42 feet by 30 feet — still waving over the fort’s ramparts.
Visitors to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine can hear Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner” during a presentation at the Visitor Center and walk the ramparts of the star-shaped fort. Meanwhile, the earliest original manuscript version of Key’s poem is housed nearby at the Maryland Historical Society. Also in Baltimore is the home of Star-Spangled Banner flagmaker Mary Pickersgill and the Inner Harbor-based Pride of Baltimore II, a re-creation of an 1812-era topsail schooner used by privateers as a warship to fight the British.
Just prior to the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry, about 5,000 British troops landed at Fort Howard in Baltimore County, southeast of the city, and engaged American troops in a battle on the North Point peninsula. North Point State Park’s Defenders Trail follows the route of the British as they progressed toward Baltimore before confronting the city’s defenses and being compelled to retreat.
Time your visit for the Battle of North Point “Defenders Day” re-enactment that is held at the state park in early September, followed a week later by a “Star-Spangled Banner Weekend” at Fort McHenry.
See the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, the home where young Mary Pickersgill worked alongside others to hand sew the fifteen-star fifteen-stripe flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a Baltimore must-see destination. Scenes of the fort are described in Francis Scott Key's poem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
Hear more about the War of 1812 in Havre de Grace, Annapolis and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. St. Michaels, for instance, has been called "The Town that Fooled the British" ever since a summer night in 1813 when, to misdirect a British naval bombardment, residents supposedly extinguished all of their lights and hung lanterns in trees north of town.
Baltimore’s financial district is a mix of old and modern architecture, with the highlight being Charles Center, a striking metal and glass building designed by modern architectural pioneer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.