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The Baltimore Experience > Virtual Itineraries > War of 1812 Sites and Attractions

A Star-Spangled Journey

Only 30 years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the United States once again found itself in open conflict with Great Britain. The War of 1812 tested the young nation’s sovereignty and self-confidence, and no place was the fight for America’s freedom more dramatic than in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s most noted landmark, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, is directly linked to the September 1814 Battle of Baltimore and to Francis Scott Key’s writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other sites and attractions in Baltimore provide insights on the city’s role in the larger conflict and how the war affected the lives of everyday residents.


Not-To-Miss War of 1812 Sites and Attractions 

  • Begin your exploration of the War of 1812 with a visit to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. A 10-minute orientation film helps visitors understand the critical role of the fort and the city in the War of 1812. NPS ranger talks and living history presentations add context and depth to a tour of the fort.  
  • The 1812 experience continues at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, the home of seamstress Mary Pickersgill. In 1813, the commanding officer of Fort McHenry commissioned Pickersgill to create two American flags to fly over the fort. It was these flags that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem. The museum next door to the 1793 house contains 1812 exhibits and activity stations for kids.
  • The Maryland Historical Society is home to “In Full Glory Reflected,” a comprehensive exhibit on Baltimore and the War of 1812. A highlight of the exhibit is the oldest known surviving manuscript of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Along with this national icon, the exhibit showcases paintings and artifacts.
  • At the time of the war, Fell's Point was the city’s commercial heart—a bustling port with many shipbuilders and maritime facilities. Fell’s Point was also home to the privateers, privately owned ships authorized by the government to attack and capture British ships. Even today the neighborhood is noted for its narrow streets and Colonial architecture. Stop by the Fell's Point Visitor Center ran by the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point. Housed in a former horse car barn, the center has exhibits on the neighborhood history. The society also conducts tours of the Robert Long House, believed to be the oldest surviving urban residence in Baltimore. The Historic Fell's Point Trail winds through the community, highlighting places related to the War of 1812, including the home of shipbuilder Thomas Kemp and the site of 1812-era shipyards.
  • The expansive Patterson Park lies northeast of Fell’s Point. A defensive line of earthworks ran through the park to defend the city against a ground attack by British troops. Hampstead Hill, where the Patterson Park Pagoda stands, offers a commanding view of the park from the site of the former defenses.


Off-the-Beaten Path (but Worth a Look)

  • The oldest and grandest example of Georgian architecture in the city, the Mount Clare Museum House was once the center of the Georgia Plantation. The house was also the home of James Carroll, Jr., an American militiaman. In August 1814, the Maryland militia marched past the house on their way to face the British at Bladensburg. Both the burning of Washington, DC and the bombardment of Fort McHenry could have been seen from the home’s second-story windows. In 1841, Mount Clare hosted a national encampment featuring surviving soldiers and sailors from the War of 1812. Today the home, a National Historic Landmark, is a house museum located in the expansive Carroll Park.
  • Amid the hustle and bustle of west Baltimore’s hospital district, Westminster Hall Burying Ground is a quiet oasis for reflection and the resting place of several War of 1812 heroes. Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith (commander of the Baltimore defenses) and Brig. Gen. John Stricker (commander of American forces at North Point) are buried here, as is John Stuart Skinner, who accompanied Francis Scott Key to the British fleet.
  • As a high point at the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill served as an observation post and signal station during the war. A one-gun battery on the hill sounded alerts to the city. When the British bombarded Fort McHenry, many citizens watched from the hill. Today several monuments stand in the park in honor of War of 1812 heroes, including Lt. Col. George Armistead and Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith.
  • Erected in 1911, the Francis Scott Key Monument depicts Key’s return to Baltimore after the perilous fight. He stands holding his manuscript up to a figure of Columbia. At the base of the monument are bas relief sculptures of the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
  • A modest plaque honoring the site of Francis Scott Key’s death is steps away from Baltimore’s Washington Monument, affixed to the front façade of the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. Key died in a house located at the current site of the church.
  • Baltimore merchant Henry Thompson built the original two-story farmhouse, today known as Clifton Mansion, in 1803. Thompson led the First Baltimore Horse Artillery, which served as the personal guard for Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith, the commander of the American forces in Baltimore. Philanthropist Johns Hopkins purchased the house and surrounding property after Thompson’s death and transformed the farmhouse into the Italianate villa that stands today. The mansion stands at a high point in the city’s Clifton Park.
  • Loudon Park Cemetery is the city’s largest public cemetery. Seamstress Mary Pickersgill is buried here; a monument to her stands at the entrance to the Garden of Military Honor. Several War of 1812 veterans are also buried at the cemetery, which was established in 1852.
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