Fort McHenry Banner

view of Fort McHenry with Baltimore in the distance

Fort McHenry located on the tip of a peninsula in Maryland's Baltimore Harbor, held a wide variety of prisoners during the Civil War. Amongst the prisoners were Baltimore's Board of Police Commissioners, Southern sympathizers, officers previously in the U.S. Army or Navy who had left to bare arms against the United States, Fort McHenry also held 110 Rebel surgeons and 10 chaplains.

Prisoners were treated well at Fort McHenry. Those with money were allowed to buy goods from the sutler. Local female sympathizers were allowed to visit, but a Union guard was always within earshot. The physicians and chaplains met nightly for a debate club, and also conducted classes in French, German, and Spanish. One guard was occasionally bribed by some prisoners to let them go to Baltimore for a night of fun before returning undetected early in the morning.

This is the same Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key watched being bombarded by the British on the nights of September 13-14, 1814, during the War of 1812 and caused him to write "The Star Spangled Banner", which was first published under the title "Defence of Fort M'Henry."