September 17, 1814
Three days after the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Isaac Monroe, editor of the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, and a private in the Baltimore U.S. volunteers, the Baltimore Fencibles, wrote a letter to a fellow editor of The [Boston] Yankee. In these extracts from his letter, Monroe described the attack on Fort McHenry as he witnessed it:
“I will give you an account of the approach of the enemy before this place, so far as it came under my observation…while we were marching to town, the enemy tacked about, and just at dusk were seen under press of sail, with a fair wind, approaching the town. There movements were closely watched at the fort…We were all immediately rallied, and arrived at the Fort before 12, although the rain poured down in torrents. On our arrival we found the matches burning, the furnaces heated and vomiting red hot shot, and everything ready for a gallant defense…Tuesday morning, at which time they had advanced to within two and a half mile of the Fort, arranged in most elegant order, all at anchor, forming a half circle, with four bomb vessels and a rocket ship…
…two of their headmost frigates opened upon us, but finding their shot not reaching us, they ceased and advanced up a little nearer. The moment they had taken their position, Major Armistead mounted the parapet and ordered a battery of 24 pounders to be opened upon them; immediately after a battery of 42′s followed, when the whole fort let drive at them. We could see the shot strike the frigates in several instances, when every heart was gladdened, and we gave three cheers, the music playing Yankee Doodle….
…The bomb vessels advanced a little, and commenced a tremendous bombardment, which lasted all day and all night…the most tremendous bombardment ever known in this country, without means of resisting it, upwards of 1500 bombs having fallen in and around the Fort…”
“…till dawn of day [on September 14], when they appeared to be disposed to decline the unprofitable contest. At this time, our morning gun was fired, the flag hoisted, Yankee Doodle played, and we all appeared in full view [upon the ramparts] of a formidable and mortified enemy, who calculated upon our surrender in 20 minutes after the commencement of the action.”