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tv   Baltimore and the War of 1812  CSPAN  September 26, 2015 9:00pm-9:37pm EDT

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the first fateful morning passed, and allied troops were holding on french soil. one week after the landing, the commander was able to say to the vast armies under him, your accomplishments in the last seven days of this campaign have exceeded my highest hopes. less than two months after the invasion, the allied forces broke out of the beach perimeter. the breakout was the next step. now began the dramatic pursuit commerce. headed by general patton across the heart of france.
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and then, the grand triumphant march through paris. beyond paris lay the liberation of belgian and the struggle across the german boarder. blocking a steady pursuit of victory led the nazi counteroffensive, known as the battle of the bulge. through several weeks, the enemy, supported by the most devastating of weather conditions, assaulted allied forces.
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in general eisenhower called upon all troops to rise to new heights of courage and effort. the brave men of the beleaguered forces held, and began pressing the enemy back. from that moment onward, they found weakened nazi resistance. the bridge across the river rhine -- one of the sturdiest symbols of war. the heart of the enemy's defenses was cracked. there remained the substantial task of mopping up the enemy west of the river. and accepting his surrender in the droves that began to appear. lay in ruin.ies
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both commander and g.i. found the exultation that comes in victories close. victory came finally with the german surrender in a on may 7, 1945. the return to peace was signaled by the supreme commander. privilege of proud speaking for a victorious army of almost 5 million. ladies and the women who have so faithfully assisted them constitute the forces that have liberated western europe. they have captured or destroyed enemy armies totaling more than their own strength.
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the canadian, french, american, and british forces, i present a picture of the utmost efficiency, skill, loyalty, and devotion to duty. we will remember many others. all of these agree that the selection of the truly heroic joe and hisi. counterpart in the air, the navy, and the merchant marines of everyone of the united nations. he has braved the dangers. he has surmounted charges. way.s fought his he has endured cold, hunger, fatigue. his companion has been endangered. death has dawned his footsteps.
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he and his commanders have given us an example of loyalty, devotion to duty, and courage, that will live in our hearts as long as we admire those qualities in men. >> and now, the happy road home. for dwight eisenhower, the road was paved in the cheers of the people of the allied countries. a his own homeland, the hero's welcome awaited him. america is greeting for his favorite son. the story of dwight d. eisenhower might well have ended on this note of triumph that a claim for a job so splendidly done. america had other tasks waiting for his favorite son. eisenhower succeeded general
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marshall is the army's first postwar chief of staff. belief that one of the greatest pillars of world peace is a strong united states. he visited troops stationed in various parts of the world to show america's growing sense of global responsibility. the firstmain champions of those who seek to lead their lives in peace with their neighbors. on february 7, 1948, the general abileneilene -- from left military assignment. participation -- he accepted an invitation from columbia university to serve as president of that great totitution, enabling him
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devote the remainder of his life to the challenges of education. even of the postwar world dictated otherwise. the urgent necessity for unity in the free world brought into being the nato, and it was evident that only one man could make that complicated organization work, dwight d. eisenhower. at the end of 1950, he answered the country's call. he was on european soil to of thesupreme command land, the sea, and the air forces of a grant defensive alliance against the new threat rising from the soviets. forad to create the will
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europe to defend itself so that freedom would not be lost. for more than one year he labored diligently. reigns turned over the of command to general matthew ridgway, the structure of military unity among free nations on which rested the hope of continued peace was established. once again, with the accomplishment of substantial victory behind him, this might well have been the end of his public career. in a sense, it was. the closing chapter in the story of eisenhower, the soldier. history is recording today the story of eisenhower, the statesman. the stories may be separate, the soldier in a statement are the same -- the soldier in the statesmen are the same man. spokesmen for an symbol of the free world.
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son of abilene. as rich a study this nation has produced from its grassroots. >> the big picture is an official report for the armed forces and the american people. produced by the army pictorial center. presented by the department of the army and cooperation with this theater. the american legion hosted his national convention in baltimore. cheap of interpretation of fort mchenry national monument talks about baltimore's role in the role of 8 -- or of 1812 at its
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historian luncheon. he explores the origins of the star-spangled banner, which was keyten by francis scott after witnessing the battle of baltimore in 1814. this program is 35 minutes. [applause] >> you can call me ranger or ranger vince. i do work for the national park service. probably wherever you live there is a national park near you. i had the pleasure of eating here at florida's table home of st. augustine and the everglades. it is the national park service that preserves the great natural and cultural legacy of the united states. and it's great honor to speak here for you-all, those who have served this nation for many years. i was talking to my boss when sue asked me to speak, the email came through, and i could have found one of my rangers to do it and decided to do it myself.
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my boss said, you're late on some of your reports, you might want to use that saturday for something like that. i said boss, there's three entities that you cannot say no to. the first is my mom. so if my mom wants me to speak for one of her clubs, i do it. two, the gold star mothers. and three, the american legion. so we are here. and right here leave you walking away with appreciation for what baltimore represents. an appreciation for all this because this is a really important year. this year, 2015, 200 years ago, really was the year of reflection. 2015, about 1815, the cornerstone was laid for a very important monument which still stands about a half a mile up the road, up calvert street.
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and if you get some time i would ask you to visit it. called the battle monument. it's also sometimes called the baltimore monument. and if you look at the monument, you can see on top of the monument lady baltimore stands with a laurel wreath t looks like the letter o for the orioles, but really it's the laurel wreath. that was put up there to honor heroes, the defenders of baltimore from 1814. last year we had our huge bicentennial commemoration of the successful defense of baltimore from the british and the writing of the "star spangled banner." so if you forget everything that you experience here this weekend, if you get totally fried out on all the meetings and that stuff, remember that this week you visited the home, the birthplace, of the national anthem. it was the battle here, 201 years ago, of which francis scott key was an eyewitness, that led to the words that became our country's song.
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and the war of 1812 was an born conflict. so that's what i want to talk about today. what was this war of 1812? why was there a bombardment in baltimore? why were the words that key wrote so important? how do they live on to this day? people write words all the time. people write songs all the time. people write patriotic songs all the time. why did his become the national anthem? i think it's something we should all know. as americans we should know our national anthem and know how it came to be. so that's what we'll explore today. if you have questions feel free to ask. it all started back in the 1790's. we already won our independence. the 13 colonies, now the 13 states. we forget what it was like to be a young start-up country. starting things up is difficult whether you are trying to start a business or anything. those first years are really -- that's when a business will fail.
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that's when a country can fail. you probably don't forget, but i talk to people from all over the world, all over the country every day of the week. for those -- a lot of us it's hard to remember a time in our nation's history where we were the underdog. where our country was militarily weak. and to where in a world that was ruled like -- if you look at the world in the 1790's, early 1800's, japan ruled by the shoguns, the french had their king. england had a king. germany all different principalities and duke comes. the idea of having a democracy, a representative democracy, that was revolutionary. in a way it was almost like that's not going to work. that can't work. most mainstream people of the world and other nations, that united states thing is not going to work.
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yes the greeks had invented democracy. that was a couple thousand years ago. the romans professed it, but couldn't hold on to it. they slipped into that empire. it doesn't work. it's good in theory but in reality it cannot happen. here you have the young united states. we'll make it happen. we did do anything. we beat the british empire and got our independence. the idea of staying independent was by no means a foregone conclusion. done don't forget we always say the 13 colonies. there were more than 13 colonies. the ones that did not take part of the revolution became a thing called canada. it's still there today, trust me it's there. they were quite content to stay with the british empire. so the idea, well, maybe if our democracy doesn't work out, maybe we can be like part of that and go back. the british and other countries treated us as a former colony.
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in the years right before the war of 1812, england and france were the great superpowers. the huge napoleonic wars. these were on the scale of a world war 1 or world war ii at the time. the united states is trying to stay out of it. we wanted to trade with both countries. the french helped in the revolution. the british were a trading partner. the french navy was largely destroyed. the british were dominant at sea. the french were dominant on the continent. so the british did not want us trading with the french or sending anything to them. so what they said hey, united states, we forbid you to trade with the french. we're like, well, dad, we kind of moved out of the house now. i got my own place. i can turn my stereo up, pal. still love you, but, you can't tell me what to do anymore. the british were like, no, no. we can. that was the first thing. the sec one was the seizure of american sailors.
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forcing them into the british navy. it was commonplace where a british warship would pull up next to an american merchant ship and demand people and take them. if you think about it, what would it be like if that happened today? what if today after all the conferences you went back, flopped down on your hotel bed, turned the television on, said a chinese warship stomped an american neutral ship and took five people off and forced them into the chinese navy. that would be a major international incident. this was commonplace. the french impounded american ships, too. the united states wasn't getting a lot of respect around the world. to put a finer point on it, about an hour ago sailing up on the sailing ship the eagle by the united states coast guard. it's docked at the inner harbor. i was talking to a couple of coast guard admirals. we were looking at the american
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flag waving off the fan tail of the ship. he what's really powerful, especially for you veterans who have been in the coast guard or navy especially, that when you're on an american vessel at sea, that's american soil. it should be respected. the flag stands for that. well, what is it here in these early days of the young united states, where these vessels could be stopped at will by the british and people taken off? cargo impounded. even though we are neutral. the flag wasn't getting any respect. and the flag wasn't getting respect, did it mean anything? this is what's going through the people's minds at the time. so there was a drumbeat. maybe we should declare war against the british for free trade and sailors' rights. now, i don't know if we have any vietnam era veterans in our audience today, i suspect we probably have a few. looking back, it was a contentious era of american history.
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but historians say actually the war of 1812, the american people were more divided than they were during the vietnam era. yeah. we don't remember it in those terms. of course we didn't have tv in 1812, either. but there were many americans who bitterly opposed the united states going to war in 1812. the question is why? i told you one reason why we should have declared war. why shouldn't we have declared war? one was there were some, not all, but some senators and congressmen who were hot heads and they were -- in our government and they wanted -- said things like, it is the destiny of these united states to expand all the way to california. to have everything in mexico and take over all of canada and have everything on this side of the atlantic. so a lot of people are like, you guys just want to pick a fight with the canadians and british so you can take that land. this is a land grab. interestingly enough, francis scott key was one of those people.
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there were others who opposed the war of 1812 because they believed we were not ready. they had a point. the united states navy in 1812 numbered 18 ships. they were good ships. but there were 18 of them. the british had 1,038 war ships. the idea is like, hey, man, how are we going to beat that? the idea this will be land war. we'll invade canada and the british are fighting the french anyway. we did invade canada in 1812. this is another reason we don't remember the war because it had bad marketing. think about it. civil war, interesting title. revolutionary name of the war. world war ii, interesting name of the war. 1812, how many of us like dates. most people don't like memorizing dates for history class. to name a war after a date that sound boring, 1812. 1812, so we did invade canada. unfortunately for us, the first
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few battles of the war of 1812 were a series of american defeats. the american army was very poorly trained at that time. a lot of recruits, officers weren't that good then. the supply system wasn't really worked out. the war of 1812 becomes the war of 1813 as well. there's still battles around canada. any of you been to the niagara falls, you were near five major battlefields of the war of 1812. matter of fact, later in the war one of the bloodiest battles was called the battle of bridgewater, which you could hear the niagara falls was that close. it was at niagara falls, war of 1812. so the war -- however, the united states navy did pretty well during the war of 1812. matter of fact even to this day many naval people say it was the true of the united states navy. one of the most famous ships of the war of 1812, still on the rolls, active duty naval vessel today, the united states frigate constitution.
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my buddy here from boston, i had to say that because he's from massachusetts, mr. jake. essentially beat a number of british ships during the war of 1812. it got the nickname -- old ironsides. that comes from the war of 1812. 1813, though, the british do use their naval might and blockade the chesapeake. blockade the shoreline of the united states. and so they are worried we might actually win and take over canada because the british could not send a lot of troops over here. they were still busy fighting napoleon. they do turn the chesapeake bay into a british lake. like later if you go down the inner harbor, the water there, that's the patapsco river. if you grew up in baltimore city, that's the river horn. that flows down into the chesapeake bay. the british were sailing ships up and down the bay. raiding small towns. burning small towns. a lot of fear.
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those who opposed the war of 1812 were even louder. how come our army is in canada and places like baltimore are threatened. anything could happen. then in 1814 things go from bad to worse. in 1814 napoleon was defeated. so the british are like, hey, all the troops we had fighting the french, we could send them over to the united states and really clean their clock. so if the united states wanted for our terms what, we wanted out of the war, was to take over canada, and a guarantee that the british wouldn't mess with any american sailors or ships, what did the british want? well, the british wanted us to give up some western land. they didn't want to reclaim us as colonies. however they did want the michigan territory. or the illinois-indiana territories, which at that time also were part of wisconsin.
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so they thought, hey, if you give this up, we are letting you off easy. we are not asking for delaware. we are not asking for rhode island. we are not asking for maine -- massachusetts. that's western land the. the british wanted to give that like an indian buffer state. no, we are not going to do t the americans and british had peace negotiators over in belgium. why during the war of 1812 the british and american peace negotiators were in belgium? crossroads of -- neutral territory. crossroads of europe. here's the deal, folks. food, how good was the food today? really good, right? you said it was delicious yourself. belgium chocolate. belgium waffles. belgium beer. if you're going to be at a place for a long time, go where the food is good. just saying. neutral ground had a lot to do with it, too. john quincy adams was one of the
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negotiators. over there. we are at an impasse. the british decided to turn the heat up on the young united states. they did a few things. one, maryland was a slave state. any enslaved person, if they went over to the british side, were instantly get their freedom. now, i say that because when we see the "star spangled banner" flag, as francis scott key would later write, the land of the free and home of the brave. ironically francis scott key was a slave owner himself. i'm not saying he was categorically a bad guy. i'm saying history is the way it is. when we see the american flag, for many generations it is the flag of freedom, but if you were enslaved, the british flag would be the flag of freedom. there were thousands of african-americans that went to the british side. however, this is baltimore. baltimore had the highest population of free african-americans and many of them did fight and contribute to the defense of baltimore city,
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for them the "star spangled banner" was the flag of the free. i hope that eventually in our nation's history everybody would be free. just different perspectives on this. on a day like today with a spyglass, armistead could look over the wall and see the white sails of the british ships and realizes he has to do something. reinforcement will brought in. it is my intention to have a flag so large the british will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance. hey, if the british want to have these invasion scares, we are going to be ready. a lot of people come up and say that's where betsy ross comes in, right? ok. mythbusters right here. first of all, true, betsy ross did exist. true, betsy ross lived in philadelphia. true, betsy ross made flags. and she lived during the revolutionary war. no linkage that she invented the american flag.
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she may have made the first one. but she didn't invent it. congress created a committee to do that. however, here in baltimore was mary young pickersgill. her 13-year-old daughter and grace, a african-american indentured servant, it was a flag making business and bed and breakfast. it was like a quasi-hotel thing and flags on the side. basically grace's mom couldn't afford to raise her. what she did was she essentially put her in an indenture to mary. she's like she's going to work for me for a bunch of years. however i'm going to train her in how to do this business and she'll get these skills. that was how they made the deal. army stead ordered this huge flag. they make two. enormous one, 30 by 42 feet. and a smaller one, 17 by 25 feet. small is still pretty big.
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yes, they were made out of imported british wool bunting. the stars were cotton from the united states. and they were brought, took over a month, to hand stitch. over a million stitches. you think like 95 degree days, they had to move to a nearby brewery so they could have a room big to lay it out and hand stitch it. and that's brought to the fort. in september, 1814, the british would attack for real. before the british came after baltimore, they landed troops in southern maryland and marched overland during washington, d.c. the capital of the united states. the militia turned out and it's actually the battle of bladensburg. one of the most embarrassing defeats for the united states army. confusion was in the ranks. the great james monroe, great guy, but not on this day. he was the secretary of state and he was playing general. teamsters hired, put in the line of fire so they galloped away with the ammunition. the president of the united
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states himself, james madison, actually showed up with two doctor goon pistols strapped to his belt. in the moments before the battle he almost wound up in his haste to get into it road through the american lines and almost got captured by the british until the person turned the horse's stirrups around. within about two hours the american army was in full retreat. the president was galloping away. and the british terrified americans. there was a valiant stand by the united states marine corps and small part of sailors. but eventually they were overwhelmed. later that night the british went into washington, d.c. hours before the british went into washington, d.c., two clerks saved the declaration of independence. saved the constitution of the united states.
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if you think about it, documents, the declaration of independence would be one of the documents, that's sacred. put them in bags and got out of town. enlisted men have a way of getting things done. these clerks were just like that. the history records that they commandeered a wagon. they stole it. and they put these documents as well as the letters of the continental congress and george washington's correspondences in bags and took them outside of d.c. like hours before the british got there. dolly madison, the first lady, had her butler cut out the portrait of george washington by gilbert stewart. that facial feature of that painting is what's on the dollar bill. if you ever saw that. so that the british would not capture that and parade it into disgrace. that night the british moved into washington, d.c., and burned the government buildings. even from the rooftops of baltimore looking down, you
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could see a glow in the sky as those buildings went up in flames. people knew this would be next. ironically enough, baltimore would be next and ironically enough it was september 11, 1814, when the british armada was seen at the mouth of the patapsco river. there's an interesting letter by a young jewish volunteer, he said -- he was taking care of his brother. he heard the church bells ringing in baltimore. that was the alarm system. he was a militiaman he took his musket. and there is a hill still there today in the inner harbor, called federal hill. and from federal hill at the time, it was just farmland between there and the fort. from federal hill you could see way down the river. he said i was frozen in my tracks at seeing the length and breadth of enemy shipping below the fort. awestruck by this huge armada coming up.
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then he took it off and ran down to the fort. armistead was about 1,200 defenders, commander of the fort. he was a major. had his flag, defenses taking shape. on the 12th of september about 5,000 british red coats land south of the city and march overland. the people of baltimore were digging entrenchments. if you remember world war ii news reels the people in moscow or poland digging anti-tank ditches and stuff. it was like that. reinforcements, 15,000 soldiers come to baltimore. during the entrenchments. there is battle called battle of north point. land battle. since i'm with the american legion, i'll put a plug in for one of most famous veterans groups in baltimore, we have the fifth regiment armory. the fifth regiment, it was called the dandy fifth because their uniforms were very ornate.
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red, white, and blue. red lapels, blue uniform, white cross belts, and a marching band hat. that was the style in the era of napoleon. that unit along with the 27th regiment fought those british and slowed them down. they lost about 250 men killed and wounded. the british lost about 300. the british closed into the outskirts of the city. but the british now with only about 4,700 men, their officers looking through spyglasses could see 15,000 americans dug in on the outskirts of the city. 50 pieces of artillery brought up from the wharves of baltimore harbor. if you were a british commander, would you risk attacking under odds like that? would you simply retreat or would you pass the buck to the royal navy? that way you can blame it on the navy if nothing happens. blame it on the navy. so words passed that the city will only begin after the royal
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navy reduces fort mchenry. in the early morning hours of the 13th of september, 1814, 15 british ships close into the fort. once they come within cannon range, some of the larger fort guns swing out. overwhelm of the larger guns were capable of firing a 36-pound iron ball a mile and a half. going at 1,000 miles an hour. they didn't call them cannon balls, they called them shot. so that's a great way to think about it. like if you ever in track and field and threw the shot put, that's what it is. it doesn't blow up. yes. i know hollywood shows them blowing up, trust me. i studied this stuff. it doesn't blow up. it's solid. going at 900 to 1,000 miles an hour when it smacks into a ship, it will knock a hole in it. a blizzard of splinters on the inside of the bulk head. you could do serious damage. and since the cannon balls were also solid, could you heat them
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up? as one eyewitness wrote, the furnaces at the fort were vomiting hot shot to give the british a warm reception. so they were actually -- they had brick ovens, like brick oven pizza, you could put the cannon balls in there and stoke it up and fish out a red hot cannon balls. you bring it up to the gun, ram down the gunpowder, ram down some -- a block of earth, sometimes a wet rag or two, flip in the red hot cannon ball and tap the whole thing down. boom, when you fire the gun, the whole thing fires. now you're firing -- you can imagine what will happen if a red hot cannon ball embeds itself in a wooden ship. you can set it on fire. in the early morning hours, boom, boom, boom, boom. for a few hours the cannon fire is going back and forth. people in baltimore on the rooftops, private douglas wrote i could see their shot strike
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their frigates in many instances. you could probably see holes appear in sails. it starts to rain. so armistead reluctantly orders the gigantic flag hauled down and the smaller flag hauled up. the flag hangs limp because it's drenched with rain water. then the british not willing to lose any ships pull back beyond the range of the fort's guns. even though the fort's guns are hiked up, we could see the cannon balls harmlessly splashing down in the water. and armistead reluctantly says cease fire. francis scott key was on a small truce ship. he negotiated the release of a prisoner. he was -- was on an unarmed ship behind the british bombardment squadron. but he's not sure what's going on. he knows there's a bombardment of the fort.

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