September 17 1814: Napoleon Report

On September 17 1814, Neil Campbell writes to Lord Castlereagh about his interview with Napoleon the date before on the Island of Elba. Continue reading

September 17 1814: Lord Byron is Engaged to Miss Milbanke

On September 17 1814, Lord Byron receives Annabella Milbanke’s letter accepting his marriage proposal. Her letter reads:

I have your second letter—and am almost too agitated to write—but you will understand. It would be absurd to suppress anything—I am and have long been pledged to myself to make your happiness my first object in life. If I can make you happy, I have no other consideration. I will trust to you for all I should look up to—all I can love. The fear of not realizing your expectations is the only one I now feel.

Convince me—it is all I wish—that my affection may supply what is wanting in my character to form your happiness. This is a moment of joy which I have too much despaired of ever experiencing—I dared not believe it possible, and I have painfully supported a determination founded in fact on the belief that you did not wish it removed—that its removal would not be for your good. There has in reality been scarcely a change in my sentiments. More of this I will defer. I wrote by last post—with what different feelings! Let me be grateful for those with which I now acknowledge myself Most affectly yours.

Continue reading

September 16 1814: Francis Scott Key and An American Anthem

On September 16 1814, the British marines guarding Francis Scott Key leave his sloop and he is able to return, with his companions, to Baltimore. Key takes a room in the Indian Queen Hotel at the southeast corner of Hanover and Baltimore Streets. He has with him the notes and lines for the poem that he was moved to write on seeing the American flag yet waiving over the ramparts of Fort McHenry on September 14 1814. He will revise and copy his poem at the hotel. He will first call it the Defence of Fort McHenry. Later, it will be known as the Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem. The image above may be a copy of the poem written by him. Continue reading

September 14 1814: Birth of an Anthem

“All through the night, Armistead’s men continued to hold the fort, refusing to surrender. That night British attempts at a diversionary attack also failed, and by dawn they had given up hope of taking the city.  At 7:30 on the morning of September 14, Admiral Cochrane called an end to the bombardment, and the British fleet withdrew. The successful defense of Baltimore marked a turning point in the War of 1812. Three months later, on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent formally ended the war. Continue reading

September 13 1814: Battle of Baltimore

Brooke decided that his men were too few, the defenders too many, and their earthworks too strong, so he halted his advance and called on the navy to push into the harbor and destroy its waterfront defenses, principally Fort McHenry. On the night of September 13–14, Cochrane’s ships bombarded the fort with rockets, mortars, and cannon. “The portals of hell appeared to have been thrown open,” Moore wrote from the terror-stricken city. But the fort held, suffering surprisingly little damage as most of the enemy shots proved loud but errant. In the morning the admirals dismissed further bombardment as futile, so they withdrew their ships down the river after evacuating Brooke’s troops from North Point. The British losses included four Colonial Marines. As they sailed away, the naval officers sought to restore shaken discipline by hanging two white sailors convicted of trying to desert to the enemy.

— Alan Taylor’s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832