Happy Fourth of July—2020

Wishing you a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Here are a few articles from the archive to celebrate the holiday with some Civil War history:

A Word About Independence Day in The Civil War

“Moulded in the form of a spread eagle”: Mosby’s Rangers, the Fourth of July, and a Dispute Over Cake

The Fourth of July and the Death of Independence

July 4, 1864: “From 10,000 to 20,000 voices…singing, The Star Spangled Banner”

“Independence Forever”–except in Vicksburg

2 Responses to Happy Fourth of July—2020

  1. On July 4th 1862 celebrations in the field [wherever military operations could be safely “put on hold” for the day] involved “34-gun salutes” …one gun for every State in the Union, including Kansas, and those Southern States in rebellion. Shooting competitions and other games were engaged; with a “special meal” at Noon (called Dinner in the Army.)
    Newspapers of the period acknowledged the significance of the Day — on both sides — although the South did not celebrate. The Richmond Daily Dispatch of July 4th boldly alludes to “the apparent intention of our enemy at Washington to have McClellan occupy Richmond on, or before, the 4th of July… and that scheme has come to nought.”  The July 5th edition focused on the Constitution of the United States; and Virginian, Patrick Henry’s, warning not to ratify the document, as “we might simply replace one tyrant with another.”
    Of course, the Northern papers were more receptive to calls for celebration: the July 3rd Daily Evansville Journal planned “a Grand Illumination, to begin at midnight of the 3rd, and which would involve fireworks and music, followed by a Grand Lunch at 9am on Independence Day [and which was sponsored by the business owners of Evansville, Indiana.]” The Chicago Tribune for July 4th proclaimed the “undeniable progress of McClellan towards Richmond,” and advocated for a celebration “of bonfires and illumination [as proposed proper by John Adams]; and further called for “ringing of bells and firing of guns… because we cherish the Declaration of Independence.”
    Individual soldiers recorded in letters and diaries their personal 4th of July experiences: Turner Bailey [3rd Iowa, Co.A] recalls in his diary being on furlough in Ohio, at his pre-war home of Berlin [midway between Akron and Zanesville] where he “attended the local celebrations; sent up paper balloons; had a family dinner; and saw the fireworks in the evening.” Thomas Christie [Munch’s Minnesota Battery] was at Corinth on the day, and reports participating in ” … the 34-gun salute, followed by firing a Hotchkiss shell into a big white oak, just to see the effect.” However, Sergeant William Storr’s experience was similar to many: based at Moscow, Tennessee, the 77th Ohio was sent south on June 30th for a reconnaissance against Holly Springs; the regiment returned to Moscow on July 7th (with no record in Storr’s diary of anything special on July 4th.)
    Hoping your 4th of July for 2020 involves fireworks, baseball, and a Grand Picnic… weather permitting.
    Mike Maxwell

  2. The Battle of Tebbs Bend, Kentucky on July 4, 1863.

    Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Great Raid through Kentucky began at Burkesville, Kentucky when 2500 cavalrymen crossed the Cumberland River on July 2, 1863. After a small Skirmish in Columbia. the men camped between Cane Valley and Tebbs Bend the night of July 3. Col. Orlando Moore, of 230 (!) men of the 25th Michigan, waited behind a defensive line which was on a ridge flanked on two sides by the Green River. At sunrise on July 4, Union pickets opened fire on approaching enemy cavalrymen. Soon, Morgan’s artillery answered, wounding two Union soldiers in the rifle pits. About 7 a.m., Morgan called a cease fire and sent forward three officers under a flag of truce, demanding that Moore surrender, wishing to avoid further bloodshed. Moore answered: ”Sir, present my compliments to General Morgan, but as it is the Fourth of July, I cannot entertain the proposition to surrender.” This answer surprised Morgan, who got angry, because of this arrogance and ordered: “Then teach those damned Yankees a lesson!”
    The 25th Michigan soon silenced Morgan’s artillery battery of four guns. Morgan pushed forward a total of eight separate attacks, with each one being repulsed. Morgan lost 35 killed and 45 wounded, while Moore counted 6 killed and 23 wounded. Of significance, among Morgan’s casualties were 24 experienced officers, who were a particular target of the Michigan sharpshooters. Finally acknowledging that he could not seize the fortifications, Morgan sent another delegation under a flag of truce to Colonel Moore to request permission to collect his wounded and bury his dead. That task completed, Morgan withdrew southward along the bluffs of the Green River

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