On April 26th, a tour planned by students in an SU Public History class of the defense of Baltimore in September 1814 was praised by local VIPs.   Developed in conjunction with the Maryland Military Historical Society, the tour involved leaders representing the Maryland National Guard, Maryland Humanities Council, Maryland Veterans Administration, University of Baltimore, the City of Baltimore and the Maryland State Archives. During the tour, independent historians presented the most recent scholarship regarding the positive influence of the defense of Baltimore, in 1814, to the outcome of that war.

The tour was a capstone experience for students in Dr. Johnston’s “interpreting A Battlefield” course. The course had two major learning objectives for its students: 1) an in-depth knowledge of the defense of Baltimore from British attack in September 1814, and 2) a hands-on opportunity to learn how to set-up a coach tour for a historical day trip.

The first learning objective addressed the Public History Program’s commitment to providing its students the best education in US history possible. The second learning objective addressed the Public History Program’s commitment to providing its majors unparalleled experiences in public history skill acquisition and development. 

A 24-hour experience, the tour started with a classroom session for all participants on Friday evening.  In that session the context of the War of 1812 was explored as was the lead-up to the British attack on Baltimore. The next morning everyone boarded the tour coach and began an eight-hour journey into history. Along the way, participants engaged in discussions with noted historians Joseph Balkoski and Bob Mullauer on the bus as well as National Park Service Chief of Interpretation Vince Vaise at Fort McHenry.

Following the “staff ride” format for battlefield analysis developed by the US Army, participants visited all of the major sites involved in Baltimore’s defense and viewed them through the eyes of both the British and US leaders.  A catered luncheon and dinner provided sustenance for everyone involved. The day ended with a “lessons learned” session back at Stevenson on Saturday evening.