In the War of 1812, America was again fighting her mother country, Great Britain. Britain had lost the American War of Independence in 1783, but now 29 years later, she was determined to take America back as a British possession.
In Europe, Napoleon had been defeated and all the seasoned British troops were sent en masse to the United States in order to take back the land and its rich tax base.
The initial battles were fought in the north, in and around the Canadian border. But in August of 1814, the British invaded Washington DC, burning and looting the White House, the Capitol, the Treasury, War Department and Navy Yard. President James Madison and the entire U.S. Government had to flee the city and eventually ended up hiding in Brookeville, Maryland.
American troops were demoralized and were easily defeated in successive battles around the Washington area. The British spent several days looting tons of merchandise from city merchants.
It was a dark and pivotal moment for the new Republic. With our capital in Washington destroyed, our government leaders on the run and our troops in disarray, the British turned their sights to Baltimore for a knock-out blow. The British believed victory was at hand.
On September 12, 1814, 5000 British troops headed by land from Washington to Baltimore only 35 miles away. They met 3,000 American troops about five miles outside Baltimore. The Americans initially engaged the British in battle but then retreated as a stalling tactic to allow time for more American troops to arrive.
At the same time, a large flotilla from the British Royal Navy was sailing through the Chesapeake Bay to attack Baltimore from the sea. It included 5 (of 8) massive siege artillery ships Britain had in its navy and used to pulverize cities from the sea.
At this point in the war the British had captured prisoners from the previous battles and held them on a ship about 1000 yards off-shore from Fort McHenry, a small defensive fort guarding the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.
The Americans initiated a meeting to negotiate the release of these prisoners. By rowboat they sent a young lawyer from Baltimore out to the ship where the prisoners were held in order to arrange a prisoner swap.
The lawyer eventually reached an agreement that the prisoners could be exchanged on a “one-for-one” basis. He then was allowed to go below deck to tell the men that he had negotiated their release. The cargo hold was packed tightly with American prisoners in chains.
The lawyer told them, “Tonight I have arranged for your release. Tomorrow morning you will be free.”
When he returned to topside, the British Admiral, who had overheard the declaration to the prisoners said, “We’ll honor our commitment to release these men, but after tonight it won’t matter because 85 war ships of the British Royal Navy are on their way here and will arrive in two or three hours. By tomorrow morning the war will be over.”
From the ship, using a telescope, the lawyer could see the massive fleet sailing up Chesapeake Bay toward the tiny fort. The prospects of repelling such an onslaught were grim, to say the least.
At Fort McHenry, the only port defense for Baltimore, the Americans had proudly hoisted a huge American flag with 13 stars and stripes over the fort’s rampart.
The Admiral explained to the lawyer, “We’ve given an ultimatum that the Americans lay down their arms and take down that flag or we’re going to take out the fort where the flag stands. We will level it.”
The lawyer immediately protested because he knew the fort was not only a military fort but also housed women and children.
The British Admiral answered, “It’s ok. We’ve left them a way of escape. They know that all they have to do is lower the flag and we’ll know they’ve surrendered. We’ll stop the shelling immediately. Once you surrender you’ll then be under British rule again and this war will be over.”
The lawyer went back down to the prisoner hold in the ship and told the American prisoners what was about to take place. The men in the hold asked him to go back up on top and give them a running account of what was happening.
The British fleet arrived and as twilight began to fall, there was a haze over the water, typical of sunsets in Baltimore. The Brits maneuvered their ships into position and began to relentlessly shell the small fort with the large American flag, unleashing their cannons on the helpless occupants.
The lawyer recounted later that the explosive sounds from the British cannons were so deafening that you couldn’t even hear to talk. There was almost no pause from the massive cannon fire as the ships moved one after another into position to fire everything they had at the fort. The sky was pitch black but was lit up by the yellow and red bursting bombs.
Down below deck, when there was any pause in the bombing, the prisoners hollered up to the attorney, “Tell us where the flag is! Is the flag still flying over the rampart?”
Every time a bomb would explode near the flag, you could see the flag and the lawyer would holler down to the prisoners that the flag was still there.
The Admiral came to the lawyer and said, “Your people are insane, what’s the matter with them? Don’t they understand we’ll not stop until the flag is down, even if we have to kill every living soul?”
The lawyer responded by quoting George Washington: “The thing that sets an American Christian apart from all other people in the world is that he will die standing up before he’ll live on his knees.”
The British could see that the flag had taken several direct hits but was still standing. So for the next thee hours the Admiral directed all the cannon fire to focus on the rampart where the huge flag stood in order to take the flag down.
Between the booming sounds of the cannons firing, the lawyer could hear the men below deck praying to God to protect their flag, to allow it to stand tall. The massive shelling continued through the night.
When sunrise came, the lawyer wondered if the British flag would be flying over the fort. There was a heavy mist over the water and the fort in the distance, and as the morning light enveloped the area, even though the flag pole itself listed heavily to the side, you could see the shredded American flag still flying proudly atop.
The lawyer went immediately to the fort to see what happened. What he found out was that each time the flag took a direct hit, men would run out and stand the flag back up, even though they risked sure death from the cannon barrage.
Scores of men died that night holding up that flag. Each time men were killed, more men took their place. By morning, the only thing holding up the flag pole were the bodies of the dead men stacked against it.
In the end, the British concluded the fort could not be breached and therefore moving ships past it to attack Baltimore was impossible. Our American ground troops, inspired by those giving up their lives from the onslaught of the British cannons at Fort McHenry, won a decisive victory and Baltimore was saved.
The British were also dealing with the fact that the American citizens were heavily armed and therefore unmanageable. Since the British troops wore bright red and walked in a straight line, they made easy targets for a well-armed nation who had enough sense to shoot from behind trees and rocks.
This was the turning point in the War of 1812. America has never since been at risk of being conquered by an invasive enemy army.
The lawyer was so moved by those brave men that he wrote a poem titled “Defence of Fort McHenry.”
The first verse of his poem reads:
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light.
What so proudly we hail at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight.
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.
O say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
The lawyer in this story was, of course, Frances Scott Key. And his poem eventually became the words for our national anthem. And do notice that the last line in the first verse ends with a question mark (“?”).
And what revisionist history writers don’t want you to know is the last verse to that original poem because it mentions God’s protection of America, His power that divinely preserved this nation and that God is Who we trust, not ourselves. Fascinatingly it reads:
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand.
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land.
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And do notice that the last verse ends with an exclamation mark (“!”) instead of a question mark “?” like the first verse. The last line of the last verse answered the previous question.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’s” (Psalm 33:12).
As it’s often been said that freedom is not free. Throughout the history of this country, we have paid the price for freedom with the blood of our countrymen. Roughly two million men and women have died in all wars since 1776.
So, praise the Lord that we’ve had the incredible blessings afforded only by the blood of those who fought and died for this country. It is also interesting to note that the number of those who supported the United States over those who supported Great Britain in the War for Independence (1776-1784) were much less than 50 percent. Estimates range from a low of 15 percent to a high of 40 percent.
It’s no wonder the new Constitution made provisions to protect minorities. We were founded as a Republic, not a Democracy!
So don’t take lightly praying for this nation. Satan HATES the United States. He hates Christians, Bible teaching churches, biblical prayers, evangelism, mission work, Christian marriages… basically anything good. He is total evil and he’s doing all he can to mitigate the true believer’s influence.
And never forget that we’re not up against people. It’s not the Muslims we’re fighting against. It’s not liberals. It’s not BHO. It’s not flesh, period. They’re all just duped by the master duper who’s had 6000 years of practice.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
And you can see Satan’s hatred more and more as Americans and Christians are being openly murdered worldwide. And if the Lord tarries, we will most likely see the rights of believers fully erode here in the United States.
But regardless of what the Lord allows to happen in this country, never forget that we’ve already won the battle through Jesus’ blood. Our most important asset is our Bible, our prayers and our personal witness.
As I’ve said often, the only thing that truly matters in this life is who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. So our prayer should be: “Use us, Lord!”
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