Watching a documentary on the War of 1812; goes well with the Aubrey/Maturin books, which are approaching this part of the timeline - from the other side, of course. *G* One of the commentators is obviously filming his part from the gundeck of the USS Constitution - a ship I'd love to visit again now, since reading the books. Even before them, I was absolutely amazed by it - so beautiful. Great to see the gundeck - *sighs as it brings back memories of "Master and Commander"*.
Here's a fact I didn't know (and I grew up in Northern Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C.!): just after the British invaded the capital and burned down the Capitol Building, the White House, the Navy Yard, etc., the city was hit by a hurricane, followed by a tornado, which had the effect of both putting out the flames, and taking out more of the British troops than the American troops had. My first reaction? Sounds like something Patrick O'Brien would have written (writer of the Aubrey/Maturin stories). He's a great one for showing how great victories and great disappointments can so easily occur. BTW, the Americans were pretty pathetic - 500 inexperienced men to the 2000 British veterans. It was a rout (even called the "Bladensburg Races" because the soldiers "ran like sheep raced after by dogs").
Amazing - Baltimore's merchants made the ultimate sacrifice and sank their own ships across the entrance to the harbor (guarded by Ft. Henry). Also the show mentions the large flag (30 feet by 40 feet) put above the fort - the one that became so famous from the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". The head of the fort - Armistead - wished the flag to be large enough such that the British cannot fail to see it. Whew!!! 50 ships came up to the fort - whoa?!? ETA: OMG - the H.M.S. Surprise is there! *L*!
ETA: About Frances Scott Key - he's on board the second line of British ships, about 8 miles out. He's a lawyer who had come upon one of the ships to secure the release of a friend, but the battle starts before they can leave, which is why he's on board to watch the whole battle. And, yes, the bombs did burst in the air - they were designed to do so. At one point, a shell falls right by the powder house - but fails to explode, averting disaster. So amazing to see this after reading so much about battles and the effect of gunfire in the Aubrey/Maturin books. *ggl* Our nation's anthem was set to the tune of... an English drinking song? *L*! Hard to believe one of the hardest songs in the world to sing was a DRINKING SONG! *LOL*! And now... to learn more about another song, since, after Baltimore, the British attacked New Orleans - hence, "The Battle of New Orleans"! This is great - I've always had a big void in my education about this period in American history. Darn you Brits! *G* Naw, not really. I still like ya. *S*
In other news, I'm about 100 pages into "The Yellow Admiral" (Book 18 of the Aubrey/Maturin series, and near the end of the 20-book series). Don't read further if you haven't read this far in the series. So, Bonden's suffered a serious concussion due to a dirty trick during a boxing match (his opponent undoes his long pigtail and used it to sling him into one of the posts of the ring). He seems recovered, but the doctor confesses some concerns to another surgeon - some changes in speech and action - so I looked ahead to see what would happen in this book, and I can't find it! *whimpers* Dammit, O'Brien, you better damn well tell us!!!! *looks sad* After all, I already know what's going to happen *gulp* in the next book. The good news, however, is that in this book and in the last, Bonden actually gets to have some decent conversations, lasting about 2 pages. Thank you, Mr. O'Brien. *S* I am still perpetually amazed, though, that Biily Boyd was cast as Bonden. He's truly one of the last people you would imagine for the role of a seaman known for his strength, power, and boxing prowess. Billy's damn tough for his size, but it's implied that Bonden is a big man. On the other hand, in terms of character, Billy did a wonderful job. *G*
Sorry for rambling... I love my Bonden. *G* And I'll be sad to see him go. *sigh*