Sunday, July 1, 2018

Celebrating the 4th of July in 1813
Everywhre Except Fort Amanda (and Britain of course)
(205 years ago)
We had been at war with Great Britain less than a month when on July 12, 1812, The Columbian (a New York newspaper) wrote the following, describing the 4th of July celebration in Richmond County, New York. 

In the very interesting situation of our country, it was expected that 4th of July, the 36th anniversary of our Independence, would be celebrated in a masterly manner. We are highly gratified to say, that the public expectation was not disappointed. We have never witnessed greater order, harmony, sobriety, patriotism, and becoming zeal.

The concourse of people was great, not only from the different quarters of the island, but also from the neighboring places. Republicans and federalist seemed to forget their party differences, and like brothers, rallied round the common cause of liberty and the rights and laws of our country…where, after being further entertained with the firing of national salutes and feu de joies*, singing, &c. the company sat down at their respective tables, richly and plentifully furnished, and drank the following toast, with the firing of guns: 

*Note:   "feu de joies" was a rifle salute fired by soldiers on a ceremonial occasion, each soldier firing in succession along the ranks to make a continuous sound.

1 The 4th July, 1776 – the day we celebrate- May it ever be remembered with gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. 3 cheers.

2. The armies that achieved our Independence-Our thanks and our honors are an “offering meet.” 6 cheers.

3 Bunker-Hill – Where the world was convinced that the lovers of Liberty dared to fight British veteran troops 3 cheers.

4 Saratoga – Where Burgoyne and high-toned royalist were convinced, that republicans could conquer. 3 cheers.

5 Yorktown – Where the thunder of our republican ordnance compelled the haughty Cornwallis to cry Enough! and made his impious head hide low in his cave of sand! 6 cheers.

6 The Constitution of the United States of America – the bond of our union, and grand charter of our rights – May it stand coeval with time. 17 cheers.

7 The Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled – We will stand by our country and obey her laws 12 cheers.

8 The President of the United States – at this eventful crisis, may Prudence be his advanced guard, and Determination his rear. 6 cheers.

9 The memory of George Clinton, late Vice President – The able defender of Liberty, and the people’s confident friend (Drank standing.)

10 The memory of George Washington – the illustrious Commander in Chief of the armies of America (Drank standing.)

11 The sentiments of Washington – perpetual union of the states – Our safeguard in war, as well as security in peace, and pledge of increasing glory. 9 cheers.

12 Confusion to the councils and plots of the enemies of our country – “We hold all nations enemies in war, in peace friends.” 6 cheers.

13 War with England – with France – and with the world- if peace cannot be enjoyed without paying tributes of subjection, losing our liberties, and our independence. 13 cheers.

14 The defense of our rights “with our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honors” – The militia and soldiers of Freedom may be depended on. 17 cheers.

15 The memorable conduct of our gallant sons at Tripoli – It augurs well for the infant navy of our country. 9 cheers.

16 Our trusty and well-beloved Daniel D. Tompkins, and the important state of New York over which he presides – Second to none in the Union 9 cheers.
Judging from all the cheering and drinking, it looks as if the citizens of Richmond County had quite a party.  

Like Richmond County, soldiers at forts around the country had their own celebrations.  Those also involved firing of cannons, long winded patriotic speeches, a reading of the declaration of Independence to remind the men what they were fighting for, and of course extra rations of whisky or rum.

Never Let a Drunk Man Make a Speech
The scene at Fort Meigs on July 4, 1813.  The men of the garrison along with the Kentucky troops under command of Col. Richard Johnson's celebrated in great fashion. During his speech Johnson claimed that the militia troops were only "satisfied with going to the boundary line and looking at the enemy while he refused to cross and fight them." A witness said Johnson's statements were "strongly reprobated" meaning not everyone appreciated his comments. Maybe in Johnson's case, either the liquor was doing the talking, or he was sarcastically referring to Hulls surrender at Detroit the year before, either way, the Ohio troops didn't appreciate his comments.  

Despite their differences, that was all put behind them on this day because this day was to be a celebration. They fired their 6 pounder canons, pistol and rifle shots and drank lots of whisky. By the time Col. Johnson got up to give his rousing patriotic speech which as one witness described created a "great harmony and enthusiasm," many in his audience were already drunk.  

No Partying at Fort Amanda

Unfortunately things weren't quite as festive for the men at Fort Amanda that year or at the other forts along the Auglaize River.  
The week before, a measles epidemic struck the  Fort Amanda with a vengeance.  The company had just returned from Fort Winchester and because of the large numbers of sick men there, some of Hosbrook's company caught the disease while they were there.
Schillinger wrote in his journal that at one point less than a dozen men of his company were fit for duty.  So many men were sick that day, celebrations were cancelled. 

Sunday the 4th July 1813               
 “ This being Cool & pleasant with A fine Breeze of wind at about, W. made our situation quite comfortable to what it had been for some days past”

 That didn't stop Captain Benaugh, the forts Forage Master . He took a horse and rode to St. Marys so he could join in the festivities there. 
How To Celebrate the Fourth of July if You're British
I realize this is a dumb question, but as I was writing this blog an in interesting thought popped into my head, "I wonder  if the British celebrated the Fourth of July?"

I did a quick GOOGLE search and found an actual site to help Brits celebrate our second war with them.  It listed several things they could do to help them cope.  In a nutshell it said; 

The Anglo-American "Special Relationship" is much celebrated, at least on this side of the pond. So if you find yourself in the Mother Country on Independence Day, when Americans worldwide celebrate their separation from Britain, here’s where to march, eat, boogie and drown your sorrows over the lost colonies. The list can be seen at:"
Or, you could just go to the pub, shrug your shoulders, raise your pint and toast the Americans’ independence, thinking privately, "good riddance mate." :-)

If you're going out to Fort Amanda on the 4th take a moment to reflect on what's been written here.  Its a beautiful place today but 205 years ago on this very 4th of July, Fort Amanda was a sad and lonely place.  Dozens of men were laying in their cabins, many terribly ill with the measles.  So while you're enjoying your picnic of family get together take a little time out to think about all the hardships those young men and their families endured.  Without their sacrifices Fort Amanda wouldn't exist.  

And as we learned from Colonel Richard Johnson of he Kentucky volunteers, if you plan giving toasts to celebrate the event, don't drink too much beforehand.