The Tomb of Dr. William Beanes – Upper Marlboro, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

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The Tomb of Dr. William Beanes

The final resting place of a physician rescued during the bombardment of Fort McHenry. 


Atop this “Hill of Beanes” rests the man whose rescue during the bombardment of Fort McHenry inspired the writing of the National Anthem of the United States of America.

Dr. William Beanes was a physician and Revolutionary War veteran whose house was used by the British as a stopover on their way to attack Washington, D.C. On their way back, the British kidnapped three Americans and threatened to kill them if British soldiers who’d been taken prisoner were not released. Beanes was among the three who were captured by the British.

John Stuart Skinner and Francis Scott Key were called upon to secure the release of Beanes. After persuading Beanes’ captors to let him go, the three men left Baltimore to return to Upper Marlboro.

As they shipped off, they witnessed the relentless bombardment of Fort McHenry. In spite of the massive attack, an American flag still waved above the fort. This iconic scene moved Key to write a poem, Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which was set to the tune of “To Anacreon In Heaven, and eventually became known as The Star Spangled Banner.

Beanes lived out his remaining years on Academy Hill in Upper Marlboro and was buried in a tomb in their garden with his wife, Sarah, who was preceded in death.

The house still stands a short distance from the tomb, and fire damage and the ravage of age are evident in the distressed structure.

Know Before You Go

The graves of Dr. William & Sarah Beanes are behind a locked gate, but are easily visible through the gates surrounding the tomb.

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September 5, 2022

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