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Re: [WarOf1812] Star Spangled Banner

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  • Steve Abolt
    Dear List, Must heartily concur with John Gilmour s observation, mostly from personal experience with this particular Color. Last year I had the honor of
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 1, 2000
      Dear List,
      Must heartily concur with John Gilmour's observation,
      mostly from personal experience with this particular
      Color. Last year I had the honor of commanding Ft.
      McHenry. This "superb ensign" is indeed a bear in
      even modest weather. During morning Colors we used
      our prescribed ceremony for the 7th Infantry to raise
      it into position. This works well with our standard
      garrison color of 13' on hoist and 21' on the fly. It
      didn't work here. We discovered, right during the
      middle of the ceremony, that only one man, #37 Joel
      Dale, was raising the Color to the top of the
      masthead. The rest of the Color guard which consited
      of men from the 7th and 25th Infantries were at
      attention. To Joel's credit he single handedly
      "bulled" the ensign to its position at the top of the
      masthead. We still don't know how he did it.
      Needless to say he was pretty well shot for the next
      hour or so, but he did feel a great sense of
      accomplishment.

      We also discovered that our standard way of pleating
      and rolling the Color would not work. Instead the Ft.
      McHenry staff feeds the Color into a large sail bag as
      it comes down. It is much easier to handle in this
      fashion. They all have horror stories of being picked
      up in high winds while attempting to retrieve the
      Color and being slammed against the fort walls.

      It is pretty well agreed that the large flag did not
      fly during the bombardment, but rather the smaller
      "storm flag." This is a fact some do find hard to
      believe as was observed in an earlier post.

      As to viewing the smaller "storm flag" at a distance I
      offer the following personal experience.

      As stated earlier the 7th Infantry has a large 26 star
      Color. (Measurements listed in earlier paragraph.)
      This was completely handsewn by members of our
      organization in 1995. In 1996 we flew it from the
      masthead at Ft. Morgan in Mobile Bay, AL. Ft. Morgan
      sits on the approx. location of Ft. Bowyer built
      during the War of 1812. Across the mouth of the bay,
      4 miles away, sits Ft. Gaines. We called over to the
      fort and asked if they could see the Color. They said
      they could clearly do so with the naked eye, no
      spyglass needed. Granted it was broad daylight and no
      powder smoke, but still visible none the less. The
      size is also smaller than the Ft. McHenry "storm flag"
      At Ft. Osage in Missouri it was said the American
      ensign could be seen for six miles in either direction
      on the Missouri River as one approached the
      fort/factory. Its exact size is unknown.

      Hope to see many of you at Ft. Erie this August!

      All the best,
      Steve Abolt
      7th USILHA
      visit our webite at www.cottonbalers.lynchburg.net

      --- JGIL1812@... wrote:

      > To All,
      >
      > If you have ever handled the flag at Fort McHenry
      > during a modest wind you
      > would know that the storm flag was flying at the
      > time of the bombardment.
      >
      > The large flag is taken down before the wind reached
      > 20 knots because it
      > becomes unmanageable and down right ugly take down.
      > It will snap the flag
      > pole in winds over that.
      >
      > I've seen volunteers get picked up off the ground
      > and tossed around like a
      > piece of paper trying to get it down. Just my
      > personal observations.
      >
      > JG/RE
      >


      =====
      Cottonbalers, By God!

      visit our website at www.cottonbalers.lynchburg.net

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    • Scott Jeznach
      ... Thanks for the input, Steve. My response to this information is two issues: 1. It s been determined that Key was some NINE miles away from Fort McHenry.
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 1, 2000
        >As to viewing the smaller "storm flag" at a distance I
        >offer the following personal experience.
        >
        >As stated earlier the 7th Infantry has a large 26 star
        >Color. (Measurements listed in earlier paragraph.)
        >This was completely handsewn by members of our
        >organization in 1995. In 1996 we flew it from the
        >masthead at Ft. Morgan in Mobile Bay, AL. Ft. Morgan
        >sits on the approx. location of Ft. Bowyer built
        >during the War of 1812. Across the mouth of the bay,
        >4 miles away, sits Ft. Gaines. We called over to the
        >fort and asked if they could see the Color. They said
        >they could clearly do so with the naked eye, no
        >spyglass needed. Granted it was broad daylight and no
        >powder smoke, but still visible none the less. The
        >size is also smaller than the Ft. McHenry "storm flag"
        > At Ft. Osage in Missouri it was said the American
        >ensign could be seen for six miles in either direction
        >on the Missouri River as one approached the
        >fort/factory. Its exact size is unknown.


        Thanks for the input, Steve.

        My response to this information is two issues:

        1. It's been determined that Key was some NINE miles away from Fort
        McHenry. The bombardment was in the dark of night, during a rainstorm.

        2. His original poem asks the question "Oh say does that Star-Spangled
        Banner yet wave?" He also states that his only proof was "The bombs
        bursting in the air." This indicates that his only proof that the fort's
        colors weren't struck was the fact the British were still bombing the fort.

        I love this kind of give and take discussion.

        Scott J.
        Royal Marines
      • Steve Abolt
        Scott, Excellent observations! If Key was indeed nine miles, I thought it 3.5, away then I find it difficult to believe he could actually see the Color,
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 1, 2000
          Scott,
          Excellent observations! If Key was indeed nine miles,
          I thought it 3.5, away then I find it difficult to
          believe he could actually see the Color, accounting
          for smoke, dark of night, air quality, etc.

          Sometimes we fail to read closely the grammar in which
          reports, orders, poems etc. are written. A comma or
          period out of place here or there can definitely
          change meaning. For example one order written to 7th
          Infantry and Rifle Regiment recruits while in depot in
          Knoxville, TN during 1813 stated as follows: "You will
          cease bathing in the river and exposing yourselves to
          the women of the town during daylight hours." There
          are two ways to interpret this as any enterprising
          enlisted man would know!! And since much discussion
          has been made of Uncle Larry Lozon the King of Canadia
          as not recognizing an officer if he saw one, being
          just a lowly EM, perhaps he would like to comment???
          (Funny, I have seen Uncle Lar in officer's kit.
          Nothing like Timothy P's full dress "Fighting
          Coat"---but how it got that nickname is another
          story!)

          All the best,
          Steve Abolt

          --- Scott Jeznach <scottj@...> wrote:
          > Thanks for the input, Steve.
          >
          > My response to this information is two issues:
          >
          > 1. It's been determined that Key was some NINE
          > miles away from Fort
          > McHenry. The bombardment was in the dark of night,
          > during a rainstorm.
          >
          > 2. His original poem asks the question "Oh say does
          > that Star-Spangled
          > Banner yet wave?" He also states that his only
          > proof was "The bombs
          > bursting in the air." This indicates that his only
          > proof that the fort's
          > colors weren't struck was the fact the British were
          > still bombing the fort.
          >
          > I love this kind of give and take discussion.
          >
          > Scott J.
          > Royal Marines
          >
          >


          =====
          Cottonbalers, By God!

          visit our website at www.cottonbalers.lynchburg.net

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        • Scott Jeznach
          ... In the spirit of giving credit when credit is due, I must admit my observations were originally pointed out by LCPL Ed Seufert. When speaking with him
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 1, 2000
            >Scott,
            >Excellent observations! If Key was indeed nine miles,
            >I thought it 3.5, away then I find it difficult to
            >believe he could actually see the Color, accounting
            >for smoke, dark of night, air quality, etc.


            In the spirit of giving credit when credit is due, I must admit my
            observations were originally pointed out by LCPL Ed Seufert. When speaking
            with him this morning, he re-iterated those observations.

            Ed also corrected me by stating F.S. Key actually had "On Anacreon In
            Heaven" in mind as he penned his poem. Something to do with the long and
            rambling pentameters lending itself to longer verse lines. It was probably
            only a year after the poem first saw light in printed hand-bills that it was
            joined with the popular melody.

            Scott J.
            Royal Marines
          • easeufe@aol.com
            In a message dated 6/1/00 12:50:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, scottj@carr.org ... Awwww, shucks. Thanks Scott! (Mutual Admiration Society co-member) The
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 1, 2000
              In a message dated 6/1/00 12:50:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, scottj@...
              writes:

              > In the spirit of giving credit when credit is due, I must admit my
              > observations were originally pointed out by LCPL Ed Seufert.

              Awwww, shucks.

              Thanks Scott! (Mutual Admiration Society co-member)

              The transports that landed Ross's army would have anchored in Old Roads
              Bay, a tributary of the Patapsco, approximately 8-9 miles from Ft McHenry.
              The vessel carrying Key and his companions would have been among the
              transports. Further upriver, about 5 miles from the fort, were the frigates
              and
              lighter vessels. The bomb and rocket ships were beyond these, anchored
              2-2.5 miles from their intended target. For Key to have seen the flag at
              night,
              he would have had to stare into a rainy horizon, through a forest of masts
              and
              through a veil of smoke punctuated by explosions from the bomb and rocket
              ships and the bombs themselves.

              As already put forth, the flag that would have flown over the fort during the
              bombardment was the storm flag. It was not until morning of the 14th with the
              rain clearing AND the Royal Navy retiring down river that the "Star Spangled
              Banner" was raised. The flag supposedly remained the property of the
              Armistead family (Major Armistead, the fort's commander). The 'battle damage'
              sustained by the flag was caused by pieces being torn off and presented to
              defenders of the fort. The inverted "V" was reported to be an attempt to sew
              the
              name of 'Armistead' onto one of the white stripes.

              When we talk to the public, we ask them to think about the words of the
              National Anthem. (Of the 4 verses, most people only know of the first.) Key
              starts off by asking a question "Oh say can you see......." because it is
              obvious that he can't, due to the distance and conditions. His next
              statement
              also admits that he can't see the flag because "And the rockets red glare;
              the bombs bursting in air gave PROOF......our flag was still there". Again,
              with the
              last stanza, he questions "O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave"
              because of his not being able to see the fort.

              To be fair to Key, there was a lull in the bombardment around midnight to
              allow for the diversionary attack up the south branch to get in place. This
              was
              was probably an anxious moment for him and his companions.

              Ed Seufert, LCpl
              1812 Royal Marines
              (The Royal Navy's Friend)
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