Wednesday, June 29, 2011
July 4th, 1813 Fort Meigs Toasts
After some digging, I found an account of the toasts given at Fort Meigs on July 4th, 1813. Try them out yourself, with a glass of Madeira or Whisky! (My own annotations in brackets).
This account is excerpted from the National Intelligencer of July 29, 1813, in Richard C. Knopf, The National Intelligencer Reports the War of 1812 in the Northwest. (Document Transcriptions of The War of 1812 in the Northwest vol. V, pt. 2), pp.141-42.
"General Clay (assisted by his aid-de-camp, Major J.H. Hawkins) presided. Col. Anderson, of the 24th regt. U.S. Infantry, (assisted by Major Robt. Butler) acted as Vice-President... After partaking of soldiers' fare, the following toasts were drank, accompanied by martial music, and the Band from the Independent Volunteers.
1. The Day of our Freedom--its blessings to all the world. It should admonish our ancient and inveterate enemy, Great-Britain, that what was purchased by the blood of our father, their sons will be ever ready to maintain.
Tune-- Yankee Doodle.
2. The War-- May its issue prove that the only republic of the earth is competent to assert and maintain its rights. [Note: After the Directorate and with the rise of the French Empire, the United States was the only democratic republic remaining in existence, to my knowledge.]
3. Our Enemies-- the British-- their red allies-- domestic traitors-- the day of retribution is at hand. Go to the Devil and shake yourself. [Domestic traitors: not only were the British forces in Upper Canada drawing much of their supplies from enterprising Yankee smugglers along the St. Lawrence border, but rumors circulated of 'blue lights' being shown in the hills near New England ports, to guide Royal Navy raiders.]
4. Our Rights at home and upon the ocean-- What Nature's God hath guaranteed, let no earthly power wrest from us.
5. The tories and apologists for the wrongs done us by the British government where they ought to be, kissing their monarch's toe.
6. The bleeching bones of our fellow-soldiers (whose cold-blooded butcheries were sanctioned by British officers) demand from our government retaliation. [Note: at the time this toast was given, this was literally true... The bones from men killed at the River Raisin in January 1813 would not be buried until after the Battle of the Thames River in October 1813.]
7. General Washington's Valedictory Address-- may every real American feel and practise its precepts, whilst the scoff and scorn of good men point to the wretches who use it as a cloak to hide their treason.
Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise.
8. The memory of our Father-- Time brightens his fame--it will flourish forever.
9. The memory of Wayne-- Holy be the sod on which we tread. It was here he conquered our savage foes. [Fort Meigs was practically within sight of the battleground of Fallen Timbers, where General Anthony Wayne decisively defeated the forces of an Indian Confederation led by Bluejacket in 1794.]
10. Gen. Butler and the valiant heroes who braved and met the savage hatchet--while we mourn their loss, we will emulate their valor. [General Richard Butler, 1743-1791, who was killed in St. Clair's Defeat]
Ere around the Huge Oak.
11. Jefferson-- While he stood at the helm, all was well-- May time prove he anchored the vessel of state into the harbor of safety.
12. His successor, Madison-- Firm in the path of virtue; undaunted amidst the ravages of party faction; vigorous in the prosecution of the war-- The nation will support him.
13. The Members of Congress who voted for the war-- May they live to see its honorable issue; they will live ever after in the affections of the people.
Let truth and spotless fame be thine.
14. Gen. Dearborn-- Silent be the tongue of defamation: slanderers, vipers, hide your heads.[Historians now mostly agree with the 'vipers': Major General Henry Dearborn was a notoriously ineffective commander on the Niagara frontier who was removed to an administrative command at New York City, and honorably discharged in 1815.]
15. Gen. Harrison-- When the impartial historian records his preservation of Fort Meigs, the reader will find a monument which no time can decay. [Indeed]
16. Gen. Winchester and his brave fellow-sufferers-- Though unfortunate in battle, they still live in our affections. [After the River Raisin battle, General James Winchester was exchanged; those of his surviving troops who were militia were paroled and allowed to return home. The regular army soldiers were marched into detention until exchanged. As for those who didn't survive, see above.]
The Soldier's Return.
17. Our brave Brothers of the ocean-- Ever flourish the laurels entwined round their brows by a grateful country.
American, Commerce and Freedom.
18. The Fair of our country-- We have their hearts in the field of battle: when the battle is over, our hearts shall be yielded to them. [Very few women accompanied the army at Fort Meigs, most of them attached to infantry companies as washerwomen and married to common soldiers. More turned up after the 1813 campaign, once the army was based at Detroit, as ration records show. There is as yet no record of a woman joining the army to fight disguised as a man, but I have found a case of an officer smuggling in his mistress under the guise of a male servant! He was dismissed the service.]
My heart from my bosom would fly."