An­other song about the de­fense of Bal­ti­more

The Dundalk Eagle - - BY THE PEOPLE - Alek­san­dras Radžius Dun­dalk

On Sept. 2, dur­ing this years De­fend­ers’ Day at Fort Howard, some of us got to en­joy some­thing un­ex­pected. Thanks to a grant from Mary­land Hu­man­i­ties, Dr. David Hilde­brand, a mu­si­col­o­gist from the Pe­abody In­sti­tute, pre­sented for us an­other set of lyrics com­posed to the same tune as our Na­tional An­them, but this one is about the Bat­tle of North Point.

To date, the lyrics of “The Bat­tle of North Point” are known to have been pub­lished in 1836 in “United States Song­ster” and in 1942 in “The Amer­i­can Na­tional Song Book”. There may be still an ear­lier print­ing wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered. Un­for­tu­nately, in nei­ther the 1836 or the 1842 is the au­thor iden­ti­fied.

The words of the 14 stanza “The Bat­tle of North Point” as well as those of Key’s 5 stanza com­po­si­tion can be read­ily ob­tained on­line. The tune for which both com­po­si­tions were writ­ten is “To Anacreon in Heaven”, a Bri­tish drink­ing song com­posed in the late 1700‘s and well know in Amer­ica dur­ing the colo­nial era. Ac­tu­ally, Dr. Hilde­brand in­formed us that there are over 100 known lyrics com­posed for this tune in Amer­ica dur­ing the late 1700‘s and early 1800‘s.

In com­par­ing the lyrics of the two com­po­si­tion, it ap­pears that the au­thor of “The Bat­tle of North Point” puts more ef­fort into con­vey­ing as much his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble than at evok­ing emo­tions. In con­trast, Fran­cis Scott Key con­cen­trates more on evok­ing pa­tri­otic emo­tions that on pre­sent­ing his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

This year, the De­fend­ers’ Day event is again the con­se­quence of many mem­bers of the Dun­dalk com­mu­nity vol­un­teer­ing their unique tal­ents un­der the lead­er­ship of the Dun­dalkPat­ap­sco Neck His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. The De­fend­ers’ Day event at Fort Howard not only keeps alive the memor y of the Bat­tle of North Point and the De­fense of Bal­ti­more Sept. 12 to 14, 1814, but also ed­u­cates and in­forms us about our lo­cal and na­tional his­tor y.

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