I was just researching the story of our national anthem and thought I would share my results with those who have forgotten the story.
Francis Scott Key was a lawyer in Baltimore when the colonies were engaged in a vicious conflict with the British. At that point in time, both sides of the conflict had an abundant amount of prisoners in their camps. The Americans went to the British and tried to negotiate the release of their prisoners who were being held in boats about a thousand yards off shore. They then sent Key out in a row boat to see if he could come up with a mutual exchange. The British then agreed that they would release the prisoners on a one-to-one basis.
Well, Francis Scott Key was jubilant with enthusiasm and went below into the cargo hold of a ship to tell the men that they were once again free men. He told the men that by evening they would be released from their shackles and could leave the filth they were living in. As Key returned top side he was met by the British Admiral who told him that the men's release would be honored, but it would be merely academic after that night. He then told Key that they have laid down an ultimatum. He said "Tonight your people will capitulate and lay down the colors of that flag that you think so much of, or we are going to remove Fort McHenry from the face of the earth." He then pointed Key towards the horizon where he saw hundreds of tiny dots and was told that it was the entire British war fleet. All of the British armament was being called upon to demolish Ft. McHenry. Key explained that Fort McHenry was not a military fort and was filled with women and children. The Admiral explained that if the flag that flew over the ramparts was lowered, the shelling would stop immediately. At that point in time the Americans would have surrendered to British.
At sunset the British war fleet unleashed. The dark skies were suddenly lit and the noise was defining. Below deck the soldiers asked Key to tell them what was happening, and what was the condition of the flag.
After many hours of shelling, the Admiral completely perplexed that the flag would not come down, said that all the attention from that point on would be focused on taking out the flag.
Sunrise came and the flagpole was bent but still standing with a tattered flag still flying. The reason the flag withstood the barrage was due to brave men holding up the flagpole to their death. As each brave soldier died, another took his place so the flag never dropped. Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.