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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, July 03, 1898, Image 18

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And that was the way
We kept the day.
The great, the grand, the glorious day,
That gave us—
. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
<Witfi a battle or two, the histories say)
Our National Independence!
MY memory distinctly calendars the year 1563 as
the most forlorn Fourth of my experence. I
had not been very long from West Point and
had been most fortunate in receiving rapid
promotions. For services rendered in the bat
tle of Beverly Ford, which was fought on the 9th of
June, I had been promoted to brigadier general, al-
though I did not receive my
appointment until the L'Dth of
the same month. I recite
these facts but to show you
how the happiness I felt at being extravagantly re
warded, served but to edge my despondency at Gettya
buFg on this Fourth of Fourths.
Frevious to this time I had been off scouting; but
on the third day's battle I took command on the left:
of Little Round Top. By the heroic charge of Mc-
Candless's brigade and the Eleventh Pennsylvania
Regiment the ground lost the previous day had been
retaken. This victory we to the man wanted to follow
up, but General Meade was in command and thought
It unsafe to go in pursuit of Lee — a restraint under
which we chafed the live long day.
It was certainly the gloomiest Fourth of my life. A
steady, dismal rain that lasted until night oniy added
to our discomfiture and intensified oui groom.
To cap the climax word was brought in camp that
Lee had escaped across the Potomac and had made
hi? wuy bark to Central Virginia. This was a Heavy
blow. Just then some boys who had nut yet heard the
news sang out the familiar West Point chorus:
In the army there's sobriety,
Promotion's very, slow,
So we'll cheer our hearts with choruses
At- Benny Havens, oh!
We'll sing our reminiscences
Of Benny Havens, oh!
This memory of school days was too much for me—
I put my hands to my ears to shut out the sound and
felt for the first time that the hardest battles of life
were those of disappointment.
* • •
TT DO not remember that I ever spent a particularly
unhappy Fourth in my life. As a boy, of course,
I like all others, I looked forward to this holiday
X. with the keenest enjoyment; but never can I re
member a celebration of this kind wherein I
escaped the small boy's mishaps— burnt fingers, pow
dered face and sometimes burnt clothes. This I sort
of expected as part of the
programme and would allow
nothing so paltry as these
accidents to dampen my
ardor. If they had occurred at any other day of the
year except the Fourth of July I am quite sure I
Bhould have been an invalid for several days.
• • *
THE bitterest disappointment of my youth I as
sociate with Independence Day. When a young
man in my teens I was very much in love with
a young Virginia bud who attended a seminary
not far distant. It was my very rirst love affair
and I was dreadfully serious and puzzled to know the
extent of her regard for me. I never could get her to
tell. She was my ideal of
beauty and grace, with Just
enough tact to ward off the
conversation that most filled
of Idaho.
my mind by changing the subject. Just how to make
her listen and answer me became my study. At last
my opportunity arrived.
There was to be an oratorical contest In my col
lege and by passing a creditable examination I was
chosen orator of this occas.on. I was in luck, for fol
lowing upon the heels of this honor came the invita
tion to deliver the Fourth of July oration. I pinned
my faith in her love upon my success at this college
Now I must distinguish myself. She was not there
on that all eventful night, but the newspaper notices
made her proud of my friendship. But as a test of
her love I must excel myself on the Fourth of July
oration and if she were pleased with my efforts she
would then give me her answer.
Then. I began to burn midnight oil.
On the night of the 3d I had learned it by heart
and read it aloud while I stood before the mirror and
gesticulated in the mos + . eloquent way. My song of
patriotism had cultivated a range of sound all the
way from a cat's purr to. a lion's roar and to-morrow
Bhe would hear me. Ah! that to-morrow.
The grove where the oration was to be delivered
had been draped with bunting and flowers and every
thing was in readiness for the programme. The next
morning I was awakened early by my responsibility
and a big clap of thunder that rumbled through the
heavens and rattled the windows of my sleeping apart
ment. With the downpour of the rain came the down
fall of my dreams. The very sky seemed to open and
a second flood appeared imminent. It kept up the
whole day and night and I never did deliver that
Fourth of July speech. As for the other matter — I
never will tell you how that ended.
• • *
WHEN I was about 10 years old I encountered
my first Fourth of July disappointment. I
remember this occasion well, because for the
first time in my life I wore a white duck
suit. My! how I did hold up my head, and
when I mounted that old gray horse that the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have
owned at this date, I tell you
I was the proudest boy alive.
"U'e lived in an lowa village
and the nearest grove suitable
for a celebration of the kind
of California.
was twenty miles away.
All of the churches united their flocks and worked
in harmony toward making this Fourth one long to
be remembered. It certainly was in some respects, for
I never can forget that procession. Of course the
brass band led the van and
The ponderous drum and the "olnted fife
Proceeded to roll and shriek for life.
An old maid school teacher was chosen to represent
the Goddess of Liberty just because she could boast
of the longest hair. The red-sashed Marshal and the
orator of the day (the Methodist parson) rode side
by side. Following this came the most important
vehicle of this imposing caravan, the lunch wagon.
We had traveled about sixteen miles of the twenty
when one of those Kansas water spouts swooped down
upon us. We were drenched through and through, the
lunch wagon was a floating mass of sandwiches.
• • •
THE Fourth of July, 1876, was really the most un
comfortable one I ever spent. We were en
camped on the banks of the Yellowstone River
after Custer's charge, and as the freighting of
supplies by wagons was considered impractica
ble we took- nothing but packs. We had spent the
whole summer in the fields and from officer to man
•we were in a most awful pre
dicament for clothes.
The whole scheme was that
the war should end, but Cus
and we sat down and waited for weeks for orders to
ourred on the 25th of June and after we had cared for
the wounded I was compelled by necessity to think
of my appearance. I was lieutenant colonel at this
time and ha<] been married only one week before start
ing out on this campaign.
My wife gave me a most useful needle case with
scissors, thimble, etc., and early In the morning on
this Fourth of July I took the shelter-tent for the
material out of which to make my new trousers. This
was my first trial at tailoring and by noon I had
worked up a perspiration that can only be equaled by
an Hammam bath. My needle-pricked fingers were
bleeding and my canvas pants were polKa dotted with
gore. I worked at those pants all that day and when
night came I was actually sick with weariness. But
when I put them on I was a sight to behold. Just
where they should have been large they were too small
and vice versa. They were as full of corners and
lumps as a horned toad and I found that I couldn't sit
down in them comfortably unless I turned them rear
side before.
Everybody laughed at me for I looked so utterly
wretched, whether walking or star ling. When Gen
eral Otis came into camp the next day he gave me
the undignified sobriquet of Colonel Breeches. Any
way it \v;is the most nerve wrecking and 1 may add
most profane Fourth of my life.
MY unfortunate Fourth of July experience dates
back to the year 1857. At this lime I was
drummer boy in the First Regiment of the
Wisconsin State Militia and my friend, who
Is the present Brigadier General Mac Arthur,
was my guest on this all eventful morning.
We amused ourselves by shooting at a target in
the backyard with one of
those old-fashioned horse pis-
tols and soon grew so boister
ous In our sport that my
mother was attracted to the scene and participated in
We had been betting on hit or miss and putting
our clothes up for security, each one donning the ar
ticle as soon as the bet was won, so that when my
mother Joined us I was to all appearances more lika
Mac Arthur than myself in matters of flress.
The pistol we used had a saw handle and a steel
projection that came back over the wrist to give ad
ditional strength and was extremely heavy. I coaxed
and finally persuaded my mother to try her hand at
the target and gave her the loaded pistol. She fired
and the recoil was so great that the weapon flew back
and struck her in the forehead with the sharp end of
the steel projection. I don't think any boy ever felt
remorse more keenly than I, for she was so good and
patient, not wishing to hurt my feelings or spoil my
holiday with thoughts of her suffering.
But the delights of the Fourth were over for me
and I went to field practice the next morning with a
heavy heart.
• •
THE most unfortunate Fourth of July for some
of my friends occurred the day I was born. It
was so long ago, however, that I have forgotten
how I felt about !t. At any rate there was one
pleasure in boyhood for me in having my birth
day fall on our nation's birthday because my parents
always gave me a present of money in addition to my
Independence Day fund, and
as money is king I ruled my
-playmates with a high hand,
for I spent it all for fireworks.
Our nearest neighbor owned a very valuable hunt-
Ing dog. I was very fond of it and piayed with him
nearly every day. At this time my pleasure was In
creased by having some little boy guests «t the house.
They told me of a little boy whom they knew who
tied a tin can of fire crackers to a dog's tail and that
there was no end of fun in it. So we concluded to try
It on this hunting dog. We did it and the dog made
such a noise in trying to get away from the fiery can
that my father came upon the scene. I started in
pursuit of the dog and my father ran for me. He
caught me and my real joy for that day was over.
• • •
THE only Fourth of July that I did n t enjoy I
spent at Hazel Green, Wis., when I was 12 yeara
of age. During the three weeks preceding this
holiday I made myself useful to our neighbors—
when my mother didn't need me, or I may more
truthfully say when she couldn't find me. My motive
In making myself scarce at home was to increase my
fund for fireworks by doing
chores and running errands
for any one who would pay
of Wyoming.
On the night before this all eventful day I counted
my money over and over again. ifty cents was all
that I realized out of my three weeks* hard work.
Even this amount made me happy and I was up bright
and early the next morning to map out my campaign
for that day of days.
To begin with I spent 20 cents of the 50 for torpedoes
an.l took them out of their sawdust box and put them
Into the Bjacious pocket of my new linen duster that
my mother had just finished. Prior to this time it
had not been considered necessary for boys to wear
coats at this season of the year and before the day
was over I was a living testimonial to the fact that
this article of clothing was a foolish piece of extrava
xhe torpedoes were safe enough until in the wild
exuberance of my joy I gave vent to my feelings by
slapnlng my sides and — the torpedoes did the rest. My
clothing on one side was utterly wrecked. I hadn't the
least desire to go home to mother either. Somehow I
was always careful about alarming mother wnen any
thing serious happened to my apparel. Past experi
ences taught me that these surprises were a shock to
her nerves and in the end most disastrous to me.
One of the boys had a home-made cannon which he
sold me for 10 cents. I bought 10 cents worth of
powder and together we proceeded to the edge of the
lake where we found an old stump or a tree — just the
thing to hold our toy cannon. We filled it full and
rammed it tightly with powder for we wanted a big
report because some Sunday-school picnickers were
listening for it. We got the report all right, but the
recoil knocked the cannon into the bottom of the lake.
I dived for it all unmindful of my clothes and mother,
but of no avail. It couldn't be raised.
I still had 10 cents left and I think I got more real
pleasure out of my last dime which I spent for ginger
bread and peanuts than I did out of the whole day's
I went home late that night hoping to find my
parents asleep — but I didn't.
• • •
FOURTH of July, 1863, brings to my mind more
disagreeable recollections than any other within
my memory. On that day, during the progress
of the war, I was with my old regiment, the
Twelfth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on board of
a little stern-wheel steamer puffing her way labori
ously down the Kanawha River in West Virginia.
We were on an expedition
in pursuit of the famous
rebel raider, John Morgan,
who was then on a rapid
march through Indiana and Ohio. Morgan had
marched through the flank of the Union forces in
tachments devastated the country on his way. The
infantry forces of which I (then a. lieutenant) was
serving had orders to co-operate with trie Union cav
alry in the pursuit. To that end in order to make
time we were transported on steamboats down the
Kanawha River and up the Ohio as far as the famous
Blennerhassett Island. Here an engagement took
place and a portion of Morgan's command continued
its flight badly demoralized. The only disagreeable
feature of this campaign was confined to the steam
boat voyage which included the Fourth of July and in
volved the crowding of the troops of my command
onto a small river ship not built or equipped for such
Imagine, if you can, a pleasurable Fourth spent on
board a boat with barely standing room for its men
and with the sun of the South beating down upon the
• • •
IN- the days of my boyhood the celebration of In
dependence day was always an interesting oc
casion to me. The booming of cannon, the parade
of citizen soldiers and the most attractive feature
by far to my boyish mind, the tooths where sweet
things were sold. My! how I used to hang around
those venders and wish and wish that I hadn't lost
that dime. For that was my
earliest recollection of an un
happy Fourth.
In those days boys were
not given an Astor purse to burn in powder and I
thought I was faring well indeed on this Fourth when
my father gave me a 10-cent piece. I was so happy at
the thought of this wealth that I stopped to play leap
frog with some companions who were less fortunate
than I and I did this to my undoing. I remember dis
tinctly that I had quite a crowd of little boys follow
ing in my wake — for they knew full well that what
ever I bought I would willingly share it with them.
At last an old Rip Van Winkle looking Italian
vender cried out, "Here's your flna cakie. I sella two
for una centsa, with a pluma right in tne midaia."
This was my opportunity to shine. I walked up to
him proudly conscious that I had that dime, and while
the vender was counting the cakes out I was fumbling
in my pocket for that coin. I never will forget my
confusion. The blood rushed to my face and I stam
mered out, "It's gone." W«a did not get the cakes and
the vender said something in Italian as we hurried
away on a fruitless search for that holiday prize.
» • •
of Tennessee.
WHEN I was many years younger I spent a
Fourth of July in the Swiss city of Zurich.
The old tavern known as "The Raven of
Zurich," whose overcharges for catering to
the occasional tourist brought down upon it
the anathema of Longfellow, "Beware of the raven of
Zurich," was the scene of the celebration.
Several Americans, who
had not read and consequently
could not heed the warning
of their national poet, found
themselves in this city on the way to the Swiss lakes,
and after visiting a fair, which was then in progress,
dropped into the tavern, after the manner of the
country, to quaff a foaming beaker to their native land.
The proprietor and some of his guests evidently
were not aware that there was such a thing as a
declaration of American independence until some of
the more obstreperous of the party reminded him and
his other guests of it. Nor did it mend matters when
the demonstration of noise and the apportion of brag
gadocio were excused on the ground of Fourth of July
The oratorical fireworks of the group. I am afraid,
shed more heat than light, and, unlike such entertain
ments under ordinary circumstances, gave no pleasure
whatever to the spectators. In fact I may say that
the host was ruda; that he had neither knowledge nor
appreciation of American history and looked as though
he would say that a successful rebellion in the wilds
of the new world is no warrant for a demonstration
in Europe, classic and civilized.
I remember distinctly that the Americans were con
vinced that they were very much bigger at home than
they were abroad.

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