Francis Scott Key
An American lawyer, author, and amateur poet from Georgetown and Washington D.C., Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
During the War of 1812, Key, accompanied by British Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner, dined aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant as guests of three British officers: Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross. Skinner and Key, there to negotiate release of American prisoners, would learn the strength and position of British units and their plan to attack. Prevented from returning to their own sloop, Key was forced to watch bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the nights of September 13–14, 1814.
“A VIEW of the BOMBARDMENT of Fort McHenry near Baltimore by the British fleet, taken from the Observatory under Command of British Admirals Cochrane & Cockburn on the morning of the 13th of September. Lasting 24 hours, 1500 to 1800 shells were thrown in the Night while the British, attempting to land by forcing passage up the ferry branch, were repulsed with great loss.”