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The Fall of Fort McHenry by Steve Payne

Author says: what if the British had captured Fort McHenry? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 1814, at the Indian Queen Hotel in Baltimore, thirty-five year old amateur author Francis Scott Key (pictured) scribbled the words to his famous poem "Fall of Fort McHenry" on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket; ironically the lyrics were set to the tune of a popular British drinking song becoming the rebel anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Vice President Elbridge Gerry had sent Key and his colleague John Stuart Skinner to appeal for the safe return of President James Madison who had been arrested by British Redcoats at Bladensburg as he fled the burning White House. They boarded the British flagship HMS Tonnant in Chesapeake Bay and spoke with Major General Robert Ross and then-Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane over dinner.

"Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light"However Ross and Cochrane were fully engaged in their war plans and Kay and Skinner were moved to the aptly named HMS Surprise where they witnessed British gunboats slipping past the Fort McHenry and effecting a landing in a cove to the west of it. Despite a determined defence by troops from Fort Covington, once the shell and Congreve rocket barrage had stopped, Key observed that the Union Jack had been hoisted in place of the fort's smaller "storm flag".

Author says original content has been repurposed from Wikipedia.

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Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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