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      WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAIL whitw logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID McBRIDE

While fighting Napoleon and his French Army, the British developed the policy of stopping American neutral trade with Europe.  The French did the same, but Great Britain also had the lovely idea of boarding American ships and forcing sailors into service in the Royal Navy.  Needless to say this wasn’t the best way for the British to endear themselves to the maritime cities in the United States.  It was for mostly these reasons that the young country declared war on Great Britain in the War of 1812.

From the very beginning of the conflict, Baltimore was known to the British Navy as a city filled with pirates. Baltimore had become a boiling pot of anti-British hatred before and during the War of 1812, due in no small part to Britain’s wartime blockade of American ports, as well as what we can imagine were countless lost merchant seamen.  Merchant ships in Baltimore soon became privateers and the Americans began exacting their revenge on British commerce.  It comes as no surprise then that Baltimore would be a favored target for British military action.  But what they didn’t take into account was the spirit and determination of Baltimore’s so-called pirate population.




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CANNON ON THE USS CONSTELLATION IN BALTIMORE HARBOR




The Wharf Rat at fells Point in Baltimore, MD as seen in American Public House Review
THE WHARF RAT BAR IN THE FELLS POINT SECTION OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND





The Uss Cocstellation in Baltimor Harbor as seen in American Public House Review
  THE USS CONSTELLATION
  IS THE LAST ALL SAIL WARSHIP BUILT BY THE U.S. NAVY


Realizing the British were probably coming to their city sooner or later, Baltimore’s people began to fortify the huge earthen fort protecting their city.  Fort McHenry was built after the Revolution, but it would be the War of 1812 that would define this place as an icon of American history. 

On September 13, 1814, the British launched an attack on the city of Baltimore.  For twenty five hours the Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Cochrane, pounded away at the Americans, but they could not penetrate the city’s defenses or do much damage to Fort McHenry. Unable to subdue the installation, the British Fleet disengaged their land and naval forces on September 14th to repair and regroup before setting their sights on southern waters and the city of New Orleans.  As most American schoolchildren learn by an early age, Francis Scott Key upon seeing our national colors still flying above the fort from his vantage point on a truce ship in the Patapsco River was inspired to author the “Defense of Fort McHenry,” This poem, set to an the old English drinking song, would eventually become known as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Thankfully, Baltimore has done all it can to preserve its remarkable history and rich maritime tradition. You can board the beautiful USS Constellation, the last all-sail warship built in America, and tour Fort McHenry National Park.  But what I would suggest is that you travel by way of water taxi to Fells Point, and explore this lively revitalized eighteenth and nineteenth century neighborhood.

As soon as your feet hit the cobblestones you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the days when the British called this city a “Nest of Pirates”.  On a quiet corner just a short stroll up from the bustling waterfront lays the Wharf Rat.  You don’t need a hyperactive imagination to picture yourself alongside your fellow shipmates walking into this place after a long and prosperous passage on the high seas. This community institution doesn’t serve up grog, but it does feature its own selection of superbly crafted locally brewed English style beers. And the eclectic crew that frequents this pub does seem to conjure up images of “Treasure Island.”




THE WHARF RAT BAR, a Fells Point fixture is filled with maritime artifacts and nautical memorabilia.  Every available nook and cranny is adorned with some sort of dust-covered trinket from years gone by.  It’s almost as though sailors who have sailed from the Spanish Main, round Cape Horn and back again have all brought a prized possession found somewhere along their voyage to be proudly displayed in the tavern they call home.  Have Baltimore’s pirates, excuse me . . . privateers, left a little bit of booty behind as payment for a long night of celebrating after another successful sacking?



Photo by Chris Poh    
The front room at the Wharf rat Pub in the Fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
THE WHARF RAT IS AT ONCE A PUB AND A MINI MARITIME MUSEUM



Taps at the Wharf Rat Pub in the Fells point section of Baltimore
THE TAPS OFFER FINE, LOCALLY BREWED, ENGLISH STYLE ALES


Photo by Chris Poh    
The ceiling in the back room at the Wharf Rat Pub in the fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
 NAUTICAL TREATS FOR THE EYES ARE UP, DOWN, AND ALL AROUND



carved mermaid at the Wharf Rat in the Fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
"AND HER HAIR WAS GREEN AS SEAWEED.
  HER SKIN WAS BLUE AND PALE.
  HER FACE, IT WAS A WORK OF ART
  AND I LOVED THAT GIRL WITH ALL MY HEART,
  BUT I ONLY LIKED THE UPPER PART.
  I DID NOT LIKE THE TAIL."
- from THE MERMAID by GREAT BIG SEA



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  Photo by Chris Poh                                  
The front bar at the Wharf Rat in the Fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
THE WHARF RAT'S FRONT BAR IS LIKE AN ALTAR TO POSEIDON





Back bar at the Wharf Rat Bar in the Fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review

THE BAR IN THE BACK ROOM AS THE PUB ITSELF DISPLAYS A DELIGHTFULLY AGED AND WELL USED PATINA.








Artifact at the Wharf Rat Pub in the Fells Point section of Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
ALTHOUGH THE OLD BAKER'S MEASURE LIMERICK STILL HOLDS TRUE, IF WE ARE  TALKING ABOUT BEER PRICES; A PINT IS NOW MORE LIKE THREE OR FOUR POUNDS THE WORLD AROUND.


THE WHARF RAT BAR


801 ANN STREET

FELLS POINT

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21231


(410) 276-8065

http://www.thewharfrat.com/



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