Original oil on canvas by artist Peter Rindlisbacher, measuring 48 X 72 inches, unframed.
The painting portrays the scene in the Ferry Branch of the Patapsco River off Fort McHenry about 1:30 a.m., September 14, 1814. Nine armed barges full of picked men from the Royal Navy were discovered in the midst of their diversion attack, while Fort McHenry was being shelled with bombs and rockets from a line of British warships. The crossfire from the three U.S. forts and land batteries, and lack of progress in the British land attack, made the boats withdraw out of range after a few hours of exchanging fire. Fort McHenry survived the night, of course, and a view of the flag still there by morning inspired the National Anthem.
Previous portrayals of the 1814 bombardment of Baltimore have shown a view from the far distant line of British ships firing at Fort McHenry, or from the defenders` ramparts taking the punishment, or via a bird`s eye view of the Fort and distant enemy.
Instead, the artist opted for what one historian has called "the first from this view," a little known element of the battle, that a flotilla of armed British boats had been sent in close to the Fort as a diversion for the main land attack. Rindlisbacher's depiction is in among those boats, which likely had the best view of the Fort and battle that night.
The boat assault coincided with one of the most dramatic and dangerous times in the Nation`s history. The Treasury was virtually bankrupt, weeks before Washington had been captured easily, the White House had burned with the First Family barely escaping, and Baltimore was expected to fall next.
Portraying the high drama of that night was the artists objective in this painting, and its terror and violence cannot be overstated. Bombs, rockets and cannon balls relentlessly rained down on the Fort from the attacking ships and boats, while the town waited in fear for hours all in the midst of intermittent rain, thunder and lightning.
A pivotal night in America`s history, before dawn broke, the British left and "the flag was still there".
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