Wish Upon A Dish: Fort McHenry and Lotus Point Crabs

May 15, 2013

Fort McHenry and Lotus Point Crabs

One day last week, in Baltimore it was over 80 degrees and a great day to ride the water taxi all around the Inner Harbor and as usual, I needed to have a plan (or else we would be going in circles, did I tell you The Nudge is a terrible navigator?) and while I still had feeling in my feet, a tour of Fort McHenry was in order.

Off we went in search of the Star Spangled Banner (to those of you not in the know, like I was before this visit, banner was what they called the flag).

Fort McHenry was built on the site of the former Fort Whetstone, which had defended Baltimore from 1776 to 1797.

The Frenchman Jean Foncin designed the fort in 1798, and it was built between 1798 and 1800. The new fort's purpose was to improve the defenses of the increasingly important Port of Baltimore from future enemy attacks. The new fort was constructed in the form of a five-pointed star surrounded by a dry moat — a deep, broad trench. The moat would serve as a shelter from which infantry might defend the fort from a land attack. In case of such an attack on this first line of defense, each point, or bastion could provide a crossfire of cannon and small arms fire.

Beginning at 6:00 A.M. on 13 September 1814, British warships continuously bombarded the fort for 25 hours. The American defenders had 18, 24, and 38 pound (8, 11 and 17 kg) cannons with a maximum range of 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The British guns had a range of 2 miles (3 km), and their rockets had a 1.75-mile (2.8-km) range, but neither guns nor rockets were accurate. The British ships were unable to pass Fort McHenry and penetrate Baltimore Harbor because of its defenses, including a chain of 22 sunken ships, and the American cannons. They were, however, able to come close enough at maximum range to fire rockets and mortars on the fort. Due to the poor accuracy of the British weapons at maximum range, and the limited range of the American guns, very little damage was done on either side before the British ceased their attack on the morning of 14 September due to a lack of ammunition. Thus the naval part of the British invasion of Baltimore had been repulsed. Only one British warship, a bomb vessel, received a direct hit from the fort's return fire, which wounded one crewman.

Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who had come to Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war, witnessed the bombardment from a nearby truce ship. An oversized American flag had been sewn by Mary Pickersgill for $405.90 in anticipation of the British attack on the fort. When Key saw the flag emerge intact in the dawn of September 14, he was so moved that he began that morning to compose the poem "The Defence of Fort McHenry" which would later be renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner" and become the United States' national anthem.

Baltimore is a city that actually has a free commuter bus and boat service that runs routes between points in the city where the majority of people travel to work from "Point A to Point B" on a daily basis and if you discover this, you can get anywhere in the city, FREE!.
As a tourist, this is a really good thing, especially when the city's best crab house is in a place where the regular water taxi does not go, Lotus Point.

L.P. Steamers is the place where the locals go when they want crabs. You know those places. It's a hole-in-the-wall "dive" that Guy Fieri could visit, that has four picnic benches on the main level and a rooftop restaurant complete with open aired deck. Really cool!

We ordered a dozen large with a side of macaroni salad and a pitcher of ice cold beer.
Having just walked ten blocks on 85 degree, no shade, all sun streets, that beer was one of the best beer's this year.
The locals know best and they are right. Steamed in more Old Bay than I will ever use in a year, they were tender, juicy, spicy and oh, so, sweet. I could have eaten that whole dozen all by myself. Move over, Nudgeman.

As you can see, three hours later, we left almost no trace we were even there......Yummo!!

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1 comment :

Task Master said...

I've been by there a bunch of times and never gone in. I will have to try it soon. Thanks for the write up and have a great day!