An artist’s rendition of Key discovering the flag still flying above Fort McHenry “by the dawn’s early light”
The United States went to war with Great Britain again in 1812. The Redcoats won many of the engagements, but with their simultaneous war against Napoleon in Europe and on the oceans of the world, they were unable to concentrate the forces necessary to soundly defeat the Americans. In August of 1814, the British landed an army just fourteen miles from the U.S. Capitol of Washington D.C., defeated an American army at Bladensburg, Maryland, and chased out the government in Washington, burning several of the most important government buildings. From there, they marched north to capture Baltimore, the third largest city in the United States.
Following their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg, the British entered Washington D.C. and burned many U.S. government and military buildings
Sixty-five year old William Beanes, a patriot doctor who cared for both British and American casualties in several battles, joined with several American officials in arresting enemy deserters who were burning and looting homes in Southern Maryland. Beanes was arrested by order of the British commanding General Robert Ross, who had actually used the doctor’s home as his headquarters, and had him sequestered aboard the British flagship, the Tonnant. Friends of the doctor appealed to the D.C. attorney Francis Scott Key to appeal to the prisoner cartel officers on behalf of Beanes, to try and get him released.
The HMS Tonnant, on which Dr. Beanes was held, and from where Francis Scott Key commemorated his observations of the Battle of Baltimore