Before setting off on your adventure, check out KeyCam and the War of 1812 Interactive Battlefield Maps
two interactive experiences whose purpose is to educate a wide audience about Francis Scott Key, significant War of 1812 battles in the Chesapeake region, and the upcoming 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Star-Spangled 200 Celebration is a three-year state-wide commemoration that kicked-off with an international maritime festival in June 2012. The festivities will reach a crescendo in September 2014, when Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine takes center stage in a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of a nation and the birth of the National Anthem.
Return to the crucial, waning days of the War of 1812, also known as “America’s Second War of Independence,” by following a 100-mile route between Solomons and Baltimore. Along the way, you’ll learn about decisive stands made by American troops against the British invaders, and discover what inspired our National Anthem. Many of these destinations are also part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, which means that bay-based recreational opportunities are easily accessible just beyond the historic landmarks. And from Baltimore, you’re welcome to extend your trip in order to dig deeper into the life of “Star-Spangled Banner” writer Francis Scott Key.
1. Begin in Solomons, a fishing village with fine seafood dining, a sculpture garden and sites offering information about the War of 1812 Chesapeake Campaign. Among these are the Calvert Marine Museum and Solomons Regional Information Center.
2. The largest naval battle in Maryland's history was between Commodore Joshua Barney's "Chesapeake Flotilla" and British blockaders and took place off the shore of the present-day Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard. This 500-acre park hosts re-enactments and has a discovery room where you can learn more about its role in the War of 1812.
BREAK TIME: Golfing, fishing and fossil hunting are favorite Southern Maryland pastimes.
3. In August 1814, more than 4,000 enemy troops sailed up the Patuxent River in search of a landing spot. Ultimately, they decided on Benedict, a town known as much today for its fishing, sailing, and seafood as it is for its War of 1812 history.
4. The British Army and Navy linked for the first time in Upper Marlboro to prepare an attack on Washington, D.C. While you're here, treat yourself to an incredible view at Patuxent River Park or a relaxing horseback ride at Rosaryville State Park.
BREAK TIME: Concerts, fairs and sporting events all take place at the versatile Prince George’s Equestrian Center/Show Place Arena, based in Upper Marlboro.
5. Sidetrack east into Annapolis, where the Maryland State House dome was used as an observation station. This state capitol offers many ways to reconnect with the past; you can browse war artifacts at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum or visit Francis Scott Key's alma mater, St. John’s College and the Chase-Lloyd House, where he married Maryland native Mary Tayloe Lloyd.
6. An ill-prepared American force fought a brave but futile rear-guard action in the vicinity of what is now a waterfront park in Bladensburg.
BREAK TIME: Available along the Anacostia River in Bladensburg are pontoon boat tours and canoe, kayak and rowboat rentals, as well as a public fishing pier.
7. After the Battle of Bladensburg, a woman from Riverdale Park volunteered slaves to bury the dead. Today, Riversdale, as the woman’s Federal-period plantation home is known, offers docent-guided tours and holds special events.
8. Your route runs around the nation's capitol (which fell without any more fighting), taking you past National Historic Landmarks that are part of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area. Be sure to stop by the Montpelier Mansion in Laurel for a look at 18-th century artifacts and an arts center.
BREAK TIME: Cultural outlets in the College Park, Greenbelt, and Beltsville areas range from performing arts venues to an agricultural research center.
9. In September 1814, British troops came ashore at Fort Howard but were beaten back along what has been aptly named the Defender's Trail.
10. A day later, the British Navy attacking Baltimore was unable to dislodge the courageous soldiers occupying Fort McHenry. It was the sight of these American soldiers struggling "by the dawn's early light" that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." In Baltimore, you'll find sites that hold Key's original manuscript and celebrate the maker of the flag that flew defiantly inside the fort.
BREAK TIME: The historic maritime community of Fells Point is famous for its friendly taverns and fine dining.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP:
Francis Scott Key made his home west of Baltimore, in Frederick. Look for a monument near Key’s gravesite at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, or tour a museum dedicated to both Key and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. If you plan on swinging around to the Eastern Shore, don't forget to stop by St. Michaels – “The Town that Fooled the British.” Residents of this Victorian, waterfront village supposedly avoided destruction during a nighttime naval bombing by hanging lanterns in trees north of town, which caused enemy guns to overshoot their targets. Star-Spangled Banner Trail Brochure (Maryland)
Established by Congress in 2008, the Star-Spangled Banner Trail is one of 19 national historic trails administered by the National Park Service and one of 30 trails in the National Trails System, which includes the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and Appalachian Trail.
At 560 miles long, this land and water route connecting historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia tells the story of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Region and commemorates the events leading up to the Battle for Baltimore, the aftermath of which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the National Anthem. It traces American and British troop movements, introduces visitors to communities affected by the war, and highlights the Chesapeake region's distinctive landscapes and waterways.