During the war of 1812, The American fleet was being overcome because of it's small size by the larger and much more powerful British fleet. The US Navy issued letters to private ship owners allowing the boats to act as 'privateers' or 'legal pirates' representing the United States. These ships were allowed to Prey on the merchant fleet of what they considered to be the Belligerent nation of Great Britain.
One of the most famous of these privateers was Captain Thomas Boyle who sailed his Baltimore clipper, the Chasseur out of Fells Point where she had been launched from the shipyard in 1812. He sailed her directly east to the British Isles where the captain harassed the British Merchant fleet.
He sent a notice to the King by way of a captured merchant vessel that he released for the purpose of Posting a note on the door of Lloyds of London, the famed shipping underwriters. He declared that the British Isles were under Naval Blockade by the Chasseur ALONE! This sent the shipping community into panic and they demanded the British Admiralty recall the vessels that were blockading the American Ports to protect the merchant ships.
In retaliation for the actions of the Baltimore Privateers, the British Launched a campaign into the Chesapeake Bay to "Clean out that nest of Pirates in Baltimore". The goal was to shut down the production of the Deadly Baltimore Clippers. While they were at it they burned the Capitol and the White House.
The bombardment of Fort McHenry was epic as the British attempted to enter the Inner Harbor where the shipyards were building the boats. But Fort McHenry held and in the dawn of the day Frances Scott Key spotted the Huge Flag flying over the Fort. And the poem went down in history as the National Anthem penned on the back of an envelope.
The fleet of Topsail Schooners being built in the Canton Harbors of Baltimore were Quick, Manuverable and Deadly. They sank some 1700 British Merchant vessels during the 2.5 year war. A replica of The Chasseur sails today in the Baltimore Harbor past Fort McHenry as the Pride of Baltimore II.