Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Historic 4th of July activities scheduled at Fort Meigs

In 1813, the Fourth of July was the only national holiday, said Dan Woodward, an educational specialist at Fort Meigs.

"For the soldiers here at the fort, it was a day of leisure," he said.

Tomorrow's Independence Day will be anything but leisurely, as there is a full slate of activities scheduled at the historic wooden-walled fortification in Perrysburg that withstood two British sieges in the War of 1812 and played a big role in securing Ohio's independence.

The fort will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Admission will be $8 for adults, $4 for students, $1 for Ohio Historical Society members, and free for children 5 and younger.

The biggest event will be the Independence Day Celebration at 2 p.m.

It will feature toasts, music, and an 18-volley salute to celebrate the nation's birthday. And as is so often the case at a place dedicated to preserving history, there will be a re-enactment of the 1813 celebration there - but with concessions to modernity.

"In 1813, there would also have been a 13-gun salute at dawn," Mr. Woodward explained. "We won't do that. It would make the neighbors unhappy."

The 18-volley salute, however, will be a re-enactment of the celebratory drill performed in 1813.

There was one salute for each state at the time, Mr. Woodward said. And with each salute was a toast, again one for each state, that will be re-enacted.

Alas, there will be no "extra gill of whiskey," which is what the soldiers of 1813 would have drunk.

During the salute tomorrow, six rounds will be fired from three cannons.

The toasts, as recited, will be historically accurate.

Laced with Anglophobia, they seem strange to 21st Century ears: "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 fathers, their sons will be ever ready to maintain."

On a softer note, the final toast is to "The Fair of Our Country," American women. It goes: "We have their hearts in the field of battle; when the battle is over, our hearts shall be yielded to them."

The day kicks off with activities at noon that will include games and crafts for children and a stop for the 2 p.m. celebration.

Parade and Drill is at 12:30. This is when the soldiers receive the day's orders and practice marching and maneuvering.

At 1 p.m., there will be musket demonstrations, including make-believe flint-locks for kids.

These will resume at 3:30, following the celebration. At 4 p.m., drill with the soldiers takes place.

Visitors, including children, can "enlist" in the early-American Army and experience drill first hand.

Fourth of July at the fort finishes with an artillery demonstration at 4:30 p.m.

Visitors will learn about the cannons used at Fort Meigs and see one fired.

Most of these activities continue on Saturday and Sunday. The hours both days are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, there will be a demonstration of rounders, a game that was the ancestor of baseball.

At the same time on Sunday, Army medicine in the War of 1812 will be demonstrated.

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