They won't be in as much peril as their 19th-century forebears, but groups of living historians will be encamped at Fort McHenry throughout the weekend. Visitors can watch as they drill, march, fire their muskets and cannon, cook their meals and basically make like it's 1814 all over again.
Authors and local historians will also be present, to discuss the events of the Battle of Baltimore and answer questions.
Saturday, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.: The replica flag is raised over Fort McHenry
With appropriate pomp and ceremony, courtesy of the U.S. Army Old Guard, the replica "Star-Spangled Banner" will be raised over Fort McHenry for the first time. And talk about arriving in style: The flag will be carried within the fort on the same horse-drawn caisson that is used at Arlington National Cemetery. This offers a rare chance, organizers say, to see the caisson away from Arlington, used in a ceremony far less somber than the funerals it usually attends.
(Word has it Gov. Martin O'Malley may even show up, in his replica War of 1812 uniform.)
With the flag proudly waving over the fort's 21st-century ramparts, the celebration will continue as the U.S. Army Drill Team will fire cannon and demonstrate 19th-century tactics that would have been used to defend the fort. And then, as befits a celebration of events that led to the writing of our National Anthem, there will be a concert by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus. On the bill? "The Star-Spangled Banner" (naturally) and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" (of course).
And here's betting you saw this one coming: at dusk, a 30-minute fireworks display will re-create the "rockets red glare" that Key made so famous.
If you go
• The 199th anniversary of the bombardment of Fort McHenry is being commemorated through Sunday at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. (410-685-3750 or mdhs.org), and Fort McHenry (410-962-4290 or nps.gov/fomc).
• Admission to the MHS is $6-$9, free for children 3 and younger. Admission to Fort McHenry is $7, free for those 15 and younger. Entrance to the fort will be free beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday for the flag-raising, concert and fireworks.