Indianapolis observed THE FOURTH OF JULY with a “good deal of bunting lazily floating in the air.” The firing of the national salute and the vigorous ringing of bells “for an indefinite period of time” roused the people to celebration. A large crowd gathered in the morning on the grounds of the State House to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence, “an eloquent oration,” the melodies of the Maennerchor, and the “most excellent music” of various brass bands. At half-past four o’clock the “grand procession” made its way from Camp Sullivan “to slow music and solemnly paraded” through the center of the city. Along with horsemen “elaborately spangled and ornamented with the Maltese cross,” an “allegorical tableau vivant (floats)” featuring the capture of Jeff Davis and the Goddess of Liberty, ornately adorned in red, white, and blue, passed by to the delight of all observers. However, the appearance of the Armstrong gun — “an immense sheet-iron structure, mounted on gigantic wheels — excited apprehension and terror in the minds of all beholders.” Picnickers left the city for shaded woods and a group of young men played a “furiously contested” game of cricket at Camp Shanks. At night, Washington Street was ablaze from burning Bengal lights as Roman candles shot “their fiery globes” and bursting rockets showered “golden rain and hissing serpents” to the delight of throngs of uproarious men, women, and children who celebrated until a “very late hour.”
The Metropolitan Theatre was “densely crowded” for the musical and romantic drama, The Seven Daughters of Satan. Miss Lotta Crabtree was a “capital piece of acting,” as Tartarina, but “Mrs. Pluto would do well to exhibit a little more modesty in her dancing scene.” Holman’s English Opera Troup continued July’s theater entertainment with the comic opera The Love Spell, Cinderella, and other offerings, while at the Tabernacle on the Court House Square the Alhambra Palace Troupe opened the summer season with unique entertainments of vocal and instrumental music, acrobatic performances, and theatrical burlesque. At month’s end, Dan Rice’s Mammoth Menagerie entered the city with a parade of “trained animals, wild beasts, and beautiful singing birds.”
Several thousand spectators “of all sexes, ages and conditions” witnessed the successful launching of the Governor Morton, the “first steamboat ever built in these parts,” into the White River south of the Washington Street Bridge on Saturday afternoon July First. While built “exclusively for a pleasure boat,” the hope of the enterprise is “a profitable commerce” between Indianapolis and “the thriving town of Waverly.” Donations amounting to $16,000 (2014: $243,981.58) have been received towards construction of the Indianapolis, Crawfordsville & Danville (Illinois) Railroad. This is better than two-thirds of the funds needed to “secure this important road to Indianapolis.”
Day after day valiant Hoosier soldiers, “sun-burnt heroes” — the 16th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 35th, 37th, 38th, 48th, 58th, 59th, 63rd, 65th, 69th, 73rd, 80th, 91st, and 101st, and 142nd Regiments; the 6th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 17th, and 20th, 24th, and 25th Batteries; and a detachment of the 1st Cavalry — arrived in the city and made their way to the Soldiers’ Home for a “sumptuous repast,” and then they marched with the city band to the State House grounds for a public reception attended by “citizens and ladies.” The air was filled with song and prayer; addresses in “plain, earnest and sensible” words from Gov. Morton, Gen. Hovey, and others. General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday the Twenty-Fifth. Before visiting the Soldiers’ Home, “Old Bill” met veterans and citizens in the governor’s room at the State House. An afternoon reception on the State House yard saw 20,000 — “throngs of soldiers, citizens, ladies and children” — densely packing the grounds around the speakers stand. Many climbed trees for a better view. Boisterous cheers of “Hurrah for Cump,” and “Bully for Old Bill” greeted “the hero of the Georgia and Carolina campaigns” at his appearance. Following Gov. Morton’s introduction, Gen. Sherman “paid a handsome compliment to the State, the Governor, and the soldiers of the State….He exhorted the soldiers….to be good citizens as they had been good soldiers.” In the evening, a banquet was given at Military Hall in the General’s honor.
The City Bath House, 16 W. Pearl Street, opened to the public. Its ample bathing facilities with “commodious tubs, pure soft water, fresh brushes, and clean towels” will fill a long felt need in this city. The rain “still continues with slight interruptions….Streams swollen to torrents overflowing entire corn fields….cellars full of water…Fevers, fluxes, congestive chills, and other ailments may be looked for.”
The Western Baseball Club gave a “spirited game” on the club grounds, Vermont Street west of Blackford Street. Some New York baseball men joined with the best players of Indianapolis to give the “most interesting game of the season.”
Confederate arms are stacked; Confederate paroles have been given, and the Stars and Bars has fallen before the Old Flag. Our Union soldiers, the survivors of a thousand fields, their features marked with “honesty, heroism, and simplicity” have returned home to their families and friends.”
If you would like a collection of these “Civil War – 150th Anniversary” the Bona Thompson Memorial Center, 5350 E. University (Irvington) has the last 3 years in 3 booklets – $10 per set. They are open Wed. 1-3pm, Sat. & Sun.1-4pm. All proceeds benefit the Irvington Historical Society.