Image of fireworks by DreamSky found on Pexels.com
Things surely look different for Maggie and her household during July 4, 1864. The destruction and exhaustion from the battle of Gettysburg was a year in the past. They now are back home and taking part in familiar traditions.
As a side note, the Fourth of July was not an easy celebration for the United States. As the website “Mapping the Fourth of July: Exploring Independence Day in the Civil War” points out:
“The long crisis of the Civil War, stretching from the 1840s to the 1870s, forced Americans to confront difficult questions about the meaning and the boundaries of their nation. What did it mean to be an American? Who was included and excluded? Where did the nation's borders lie? Did those words ‘all men are created equal’ apply to southerners as well as northerners, black as well as white Americans, women as well as men? How should Americans commemorate their nation's founding when that nation appeared to be falling apart? But it was on one particular day each year, July 4th, that they left the most explicit evidence of their views. In newspapers and speeches, in personal diaries and letters to their friends and family, Americans gave voice to typically unspoken beliefs about national identity.”
This helpful site is a crowd-sourced exploration by the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. It allows people to read documents from forty-some years regarding how the Fourth of July was perceived, celebrated, ignored, and re-envisioned.
To put it briefly, geographical location, ethnicity, politics, and skin color could and did influence how people perceived the Fourth of July. If you’d like to delve into this subject, please go to https://civilwar.vt.edu/mapping-the-fourth-of-july-in-the-civil-war-era/ and look around. It provides a helpful tutorial to aid you in transcribing the documents found on the site.
As for Blaineton, I have given its people a perspective influenced by their geography (New Jersey), politics, and race. Those in the square most likely are more supportive of the war and the Union. Also notice the division of labor regarding who gets the food ready for the picnic. As usual, the men were off doing something else – in this case, those who worked for The Register, were planning how to cover the celebration.
Once on the square, I found myself wondering where the people from Water Street were. As for the members of Greybeal House, the other town folk tend not to associate too closely with them. Only Tryphena Moore breaks through the invisible barrier to sit with the mixed group of white and black.
Tryphena has come a long way from her first appearance in Saint Maggie. Her reasons for feeling differently toward Maggie and family are set out in Walk by Faith. So, let’s just say that having decided she was wrong, Tryphena has no trouble sticking up for and acting on her new beliefs. After all, she’s old and rich as all get-out and doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone.
The games played by the Blaineton folk are old-timey. It felt a bit like I was writing a scene from “Little House on the Prairie.” Still, I tried to stay true to what they might have done in 1864.
I’m sure Frankie and Rosa competing together in the three-legged race, as well as Nate and Eli playing a game of horseshoes together raised some eyebrows. The town regards the people of Greybeal House as eccentric. Sometimes its activities are seen as harmless, such as the July Fourth activities. Other times, though, the town’s folks feel threatened by the actions of those living in Greybeal House, and this happens later in the story.
The town has fireworks, something familiar to us all. These have been a staple of Independence Day. The difference is that before 1864 the celebratory booms and pops and noise did not bother Eli. Now he has Post-Traumatic Stress, and his response is starkly different.
So here it is.
The Fourth of July in 1864 Blaineton
Hope you enjoyed the visit. See you on Monday. I have no idea what the blog will be about, so pray for me. (Ha!)
Have a great weekend.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder