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If you’ve ever attended the annual Defender’s Day celebration in Fort Howard, you certainly have seen the pride and commitment displayed by everyone associated with honoring the Battle of North Point. And, no wonder. The successful defense of Baltimore by local militia against the British in 1814 was a turning point in American history. “Three weeks earlier, the British had taken Washington DC and burned most of it,” said 
Rose Benton of the
Dundalk-Patapsco Neck
Historical Society. Local
American forces were a
last stand against the
Redcoats, turning them
back, killing their commander and demoralizing the invading force. Just days later the British bombarded Fort McHenry and again failed, inspiring Francis Scott Key to immortalize the battle with by writing the Star-Spangled Banner.

Rose – like many of the volunteers at the Historical Society – has a deep knowledge of the campaign, and is among the many local volunteers organizing the Defender’s Day activities. That committee consists of 12 or 13 people meeting on a regular basis and it’s apparent organization is a major key to success. “We have plenty of partners, including the State of Maryland, the Baltimore County Office of Tourism, and numerous museums,” said Rose. And that doesn’t include the dozens of committed volunteers organizing and manning each day’s events.

Expanded Edition
There will be plenty of activity over the weekend at Fort
Howard Park, highlighted by about 90 re-enactors who
will do battle twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.  “We’re expecting a number of other museums to join us with exhibits and demonstrations along the walkway,” noted Harry. The Maryland Fire Museum will supply an 1812 hand-drawn pumper used to fight fires during that period. Kids will have a chance to pump water into fire hoses to see how it actually worked. Meanwhile, attendees will get a glimpse of military life at encampments set up by British and American forces over the two days. Demonstrations will include spinning, dyeing, musketry and other arts.

Living History
“We’ll have several very special features of living history,” Rose said.
The play Never Prod A Hornet, based on Esther Wingert
Bennett’s book of the same name,has been performed during the weekend and depict the lives of North Point families leading up to, during and following the battle. There also have ben several performances of the music of the War of 1812 performed by nationally known musician David Hildebrand of the Colonial Music Institute. Coupled with that, the Fort McHenry militia and its fife and drum corps have appeared for years.
Usually culminating each day is the folding of a replica of an 1812 flag. Audience members are asked to participate in the ceremony, since it 
Defender’s Day 2017 Continues a Local Tradition 
Free Celebration Set for September 2 in Fort Howard

4 Center Place, Dundalk, MD 21222       410.284.2331


Sept. 2, 2017

takes about 100 volunteers to fold the 43-foot flag. The flag-folding generally is followed by the sounds of cannons bombarding the area.

There are plenty of other demonstrations including blacksmiths and magicians, by volunteers in period costumes, while opening ceremonies will feature local dignitaries.

Always Free
The Defender’s Day celebration, as always, will be free to the public. This family event also features plenty of free parking and shuttle bus service for veterans at the nearby Fort Howard VA facility. Families are welcomed to bring their own lunch, however there will be vendors selling a variety of foods and non-alcoholic drinks.
And, how is all of this made possible at no cost to attendees?
As Rose noted, there are plenty of partnering organizations supporting the event. Major funding is provided by a grant from the Star-Spangled Banner 200 Partnership, with matching funds from the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society. 
The Baltimore County Office of Tourism also has offered huge support with a complete promotion campaign, including 16 commercials on local TV, articles in regional magazines, newspapers and on the web. The Irish Museum, Maryland Historical Society and other museums also are offering their support. And, let’s not forget the many volunteers who work with real devotion to make Defender’s Day one of the most complete and historically accurate festivals in the U.S. 

Remember -  During Battle Re-Enactments

  • Please do not bring pets to the celebration. Extremely loud noises associated with battle re-enactments will frighten and distress animals and may put other participants at risk. 
  • The battlefield area in the shore front below Battery Harris will be cordoned off with bright tape for your safety and to assure that all visitors enjoy the battle re-enactments without delays or interruptions. Only Military Living History groups and event officials are allowed inside the roped-off "battlefield" area. 
  • Musket and artillery fire at this event use 'blank' black powder charges. There can be large clouds of real black powder smoke, especially if there is little wind. The smoke can have a sulphurous smell. Expect loud noise and smoke. 

defender's day schedule

Saturday, September 2
Proposed Schedule


9 am - Gates open.

10 am - Troop assembly and flag raising.

10:15 am - Military camps open with music & drill demos.

10:30 am - Music & craft demos, with children's games.

11 am - Jr. Militia induction & drill (8 & up).

11 am - Performance of Women's Voices - The Battle of North Point by Sky’s The Limit players.

12 pm - Music of 1812 by David Hildebrand.

12:30 pm - Welcome ceremony with local dignitaries.

1:15 pm - Battle of North Point re-enactment.

1:45 pm - Raising of British flag.

2 pm - Music & craft demos, with children's games.

2 pm - Music of 1812 by David Hildebrand.

2:30 pm - Jr. Militia induction & drill (8 & up).

3 pm - Performance of Women's Voices - The Battle of North Point by Sky’s The Limit players.

3:45 pm - Fife & drum program.

4 pm - Battle of North Point re-enactment.  

4:30 pm - Lowering of British flag & raising of American flag.