Monday, July 4, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 4, 1861 - Post #28

     On July 4th, the 4th Battalion of Rifles acted as escort for the city of Boston Government, in the annual 4th of July parade. In Roxbury, the "Roxbury Rifles" put on an exhibition for their hometown.

From "Three Years In The Army" by Charles E. Davis, Jr., Boston, Estes & Lariat, 1894;

     We were up early the morning of the “Fourth” brushing clothes, blacking boots, and making other preparations for the day’s jubilee.  We were well tanned by constant exposure to the sun, giving appearance of health and vigor, our uniforms fitting perfectly, with the addition of white collars, and our guns and bayonets in excellent order, so that we made a very satisfactory appearance.  As we stood in line inside the fort, we all felt how much was at stake in competing with the two battalions with whom we were to parade.  We were told to eat a hearty breakfast, for we had a hard day’s work before us; but what a breakfast that was, and what murmurs of indignation were expressed as we flung the mouldy toast and the mild dilution of coffee at the cook-room!  It was too unsavory for us, so we went without it, though the time came, months after, when we wished that we might have some of that same toast.

    We were escorted to the boat by the other companies of the regiment, who expressed their generous wishes for our success.  They were quite as anxious for our credit as we were, and the hearty cheers that were given as the boat left the wharf testified the good feeling that existed, and which continued during the whole three years of our service, and indeed has never ceased to exist.

     Upon our arrival in Boston it became known that we had come to town without a breakfast, and while halting in front of the Parker House kind friends supplied the deficiency.  All along the route of seven miles we were greeted with demonstrations of great kindness and hospitality.  It was a day never to be forgotten.  The enthusiasm of the people excited us to do our best, and we never did better.  Our two months of constant daily drilling enabled us to make a very creditable appearance.  The enthusiasm with which we were everywhere greeted was due to the fact that we were part of a regiment soon to leave for the seat of war;  for at that time the patriotic feeling was at its whitest heat.  It was a hot day, the thermometer at 104; but our daily work out of doors enabled us to make the march with the loss of only one or two men, while the other battalions suffered much more than we did from the intense heat.

     After the parade we were furloughed until the following morning, when the battalion returned to the fort to meet the kindly greeting of the companies who were already aware of the success achieved by the five companies, through the newspapers, which were extravagant in their words of praise.

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