Celebrating the 4th of July in 1813
Everywhre Except Fort Amanda (and Britain of course)
(205 years ago)
(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.
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.
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 BritishI 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.