Last year we attended a special military tattoo at Fort McHenry in Maryland in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. I had read about the military tattoo at Fort McHenry while research DC-area Fourth of July activities. As this was also our first visit to Fort McHenry, we weren’t sure what to expect. 

Performance Lineup 

There were three main components to the tattoo and each was wonderful in its own right. Three groups were the United States Army Drill Team, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps. The first two groups are are both part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Old Guard is the “oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784.” They also serve as the official presidential ceremonial guard and guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps were amazing! Not only were they fun to watch with their different formations and instruments, but they also wore period attire. 

US Army Fife and Drum Corps The Old Guard US Army Fife and Drum Corps The Old Guard US Army Fife and Drum Corps The Old Guard US Army Fife and Drum Corps The Old Guard

The U.S. Army Drill Team

Due to the timing of our arrival, we got to watch the U.S. Army Drill Team practice and perform. While we thought they were good during their walk-through, their uniforms topped off their live performance. I honestly don’t know how they are able to move with such precision. I would end up being stabbed by a bayonet during my first attempt, lol!

US Army Drill Team The Old Guard US Army Drill Team The Old Guard US Army Drill Team The Old Guard

Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps

In addition to the U.S. Army demonstrations, the Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps also performed. They were quite exceptional, especially considering their volunteer roots. 

Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Fort McHenry Fife and Drum

 

Tips for attending tattoo events at Fort McHenry

  • Arrive early! There are just a handful of seats in the fort. Most attendees will be sitting on the ground or standing for the entire performance. Additionally, parking is limited directly in front of the visitor center. So plan accordingly. 
  • Be prepared for the elements! It was a blistering sun the day we were there. Take sunscreen (and wear it!), a blanket, umbrella (if needed), and lots of water. 
  • Be mindful of your neighbors! Don’t bring a huge lawn chair and sit in front of someone. Also, be aware of people taking pictures and recording video so that you do not accidentally cross into their field of view.