"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light," a large red, white and blue banner? "Whose broad stripes and bright stars . . . were so gallantly streaming!" over the star-shaped Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814. The valiant defense of the fort by 1,000 dedicated Americans inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." Regardless of the "rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air" the defenders of Fort McHenry stopped the British advance on Baltimore and helped to preserve the United States of America - "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Following the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, the fort never again came under attack. However, it remained an active military post off and on for the next 100 years.
It became an area administered by the National Park Service in 1933, two years after Key's poem became this country's National Anthem. Of all the areas in the National Park System, Fort McHenry is the only one designated a National Monument and Historic Shrine.