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Military Parades Through Streets of York; Firing Salutes at 5 O’clock in the Morning

Part of The Fourth in York article, appearing in the July 10, 1860 Issue of The York Gazette (From Newspaper Microfilms at York County Heritage Trust)

Last Thursday the fictional character Dan DeWyatt, in my Railcar Gold historical novel, starts to explore the Borough of York upon his arrival on July 4th 1860.  I wanted to know what were the 4th of July celebrations like in 1860.  The answer was in the newspaper microfilms at the York County Heritage Trust.


The York Gazette is a weekly newspaper in 1860.  The issue prior to Independence Day had this article; i.e. in the issue of July 3rd 1860:

The Coming Fourth—There will be no general celebration of the coming Anniversary of our National Independence in this borough.  The military will, as usual, parade our streets at an early hour and fire the accustomed salutes, and we learn that a troop of “Fantasticals” will also turn out during the morning.  A number of picnics will leave town to spend a day of enjoyment in the country.

The York Gazette issue following Independence Day, i.e. in the issue of July 10th 1860, reported on activities during the Fourth:

The Fourth in York—The Fourth of July was ushered in by the ringing of bells and other manifestations of joy.  At 5 o’clock in the morning our two military companies, the WORTH INFANTRY and YORK RIFLES, with their excellent bands, paraded, making an interesting and imposing display.  The Infantry mustered 66 men and the Rifles 48.  Several parties went to the country, spending the day in pleasant social enjoyments.  We hear that no unpleasant circumstances occurred to mar the pleasures of these delightful picnics.  All returned safely in the evening, greatly pleased with the day’s enjoyments.  In the evening quite an interesting display of fireworks was witnessed, after which our Borough relapsed into the quietude by which for the last few weeks it has been characterized.  Although no efforts were made to have a general celebration, the day was appropriately observed, and was attended with much pleasure to all who embraced the opportunity afforded them for indulging in the various exercises and amusements presented to their choice.

I wonder what the troop of “Fantasticals” did during the morning?  I still think 5 o’clock in the morning is a little early to have the military companies parading through the streets firing the accustomed salutes; even if it is the Fourth of July.

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