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Flag of Fort McHenry, 1814, The original Star Spangled Banner. In 1814, the U.S. Army decided that a flag should be erected over Fort McHenry to boost residents' spirits after British forces burned Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812. Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead commissioned Baltimore flagmaker Mary Pickersgill to create a flag so large that it could be seen by the approaching British Army. The finished flag measured 30 x 42 feet.