FOURTH OF JULY
GRAND PROCESSION, FIREWORKS, ETC. - In point of magnificence, enthusiasm, crowds, noise, wind and dust, the Fourth was the most remarkable day San Francisco has ever seen. The National salute fired at daylight, by the California Guard, awoke the city, and by eight o'clock in the morning the sidewalks of all the principal streets were packed with men, women and children, and remained so until far into the after noon. All able-bodied citizens were abroad, all cripples with one sound leg and a crutch and all invalids who were not ticketed for eternity on that particular day. The whole city was swathed in a waving drapery of flags - scarcely a house could be found which lacked this kind of decoration. The effect was exceedingly lively and beautiful. Of course Montgomery street excelled in this species of embellishment. To the spectator beholding it from any point above Pacific street, it was no longer a street of compactly built houses, but simply a quivering cloud of gaudy red and white stripes, which shut out from view almost everything but it self. Some houses were broken out all over with flags, like small-pox patients; among these were Brannan's Building, the Occidental Hotel and the Lick House, which displayed flags at every window.
THE PROCESSION. - The chief feature of the day was the great Procession, of course, and to the strategic ability and the tireless energy and industry of Grand Marshal Sheldon, San Francisco is indebted for the completeness and well ordered character of the splendid spectacle. He performed the great work assigned him in a manner which entitles him to the very highest credit.
Toward ten o'clock the streets began to be thronged with platoons, companies and regiments of schools, soldiers, benevolent associations, etc., swarming from every point of the compass, and marching with music and banners toward the general rendezvous, like the gathering hosts of a mighty army. By eleven the Procession was formed and began to move, and in half an hour it was drifting past Portsmouth Square, rank after rank, and column after column, in seemingly countless numbers. Afterwards (on level ground) it was an hour and twenty minutes in passing a given point; coming down hill, through Washington street, the time was an hour and five minutes; therefore the Procession must have been two miles long at any rate, unless those composing it were remarkably slow walkers; many adjudged it to be over two and a half miles in length.
GRAND MARSHAL AND AIDS. - The Grand Marshal, in purple sash, studded with stars, led the van, at tended by thirteen Aids, in white and gold....
The military presented a fine appearance, with their handsome uniforms and brightly burnished arms. They were sufficiently numerous to occupy thirteen minutes in passing a given point.
A squad of twelve or fifteen little drummer boys, in uniform, accompanying the Sixth Regiment, attracted a good deal of attention.
In the military part of the procession, borne by the First Regiment, was a stained and ragged flag, pierced by nine bullet-holes and one bayonet-thrust, received at the bloody battle of Ball's Bluff. It was carried by Corporal Wise, who fought under it there.
CIVIL DEPARTMENT. - The civil department of the Procession was headed by carriages containing the President, Orator, Chaplain, Poet, and Reader of the Day, foreign Consuls, and foreign and domestic naval and military guests, in splendid uniforms, as a general thing. Following these came State, city and county officers, also in carriages.
The Society of California Pioneers and the Eureka Typographical Union were followed by a number of tradesmen's wagons, tastefully ornamented and bearing appropriate mottoes and devices.
The San Francisco Fire Department came next, headed by Chief Engineer Scannell and his Aids. . . .
The Butchers' Union Association came next, headed by a wagon containing a huge living buffalo, and followed by several gaily caparisoned fat cattle; following these was a soldierly platoon of infantry butchers, armed with cleavers, who were observed to obey the solitary command to "Shoulder arms!" with military precision and promptness. They were followed by about twenty open wagons, filled with members of the fraternity. One of these wagons bore the motto, "We Kill to Cure !"
After a glue factory wagon, bearing the motto, "We stick fast to the Union," came seven more butchers' wagons, followed by a fine array of mounted butchers, riding three abreast. The uniform of the fraternity was check shirts and black pantaloons, and it was distinguished in the civil department of the Procession for its exceeding neatness.
The Cartmen's Union Association, riding two abreast, in blue shirts and black pants - a stalwart, fine looking body of men, came next in the Procession, and rode with the Draymen and Teamsters' Associations. A fine regiment or so of cavalry might be constructed out of these materials.
SCHOOLS. - One of the most notable features of the great Procession was the public schools. The boys are all accustomed to military discipline, and they marched along with the order and decorum of old soldiers. Each school had its uniform, its own private music, and its multitude of flags and banners, and in the matter of numbers and general magnificence they did not fall much behind the Army of California at the other end of the Procession. There were twelve schools in the ranks . . .
Some of the mottoes inscribed upon the banners borne by the School children were as follows: "Knowledge is Power ;" a globe, with the device, "We move the World;" "Children of the Union;" "We are Coming, Father Abraham;" "Our Public Schools, the Lever that moves the World - Give us more Leverage!" The Mason Street School carried silken banners, upon which were painted the arms of all the States. The boys of Rincon School, three hundred in number, were dressed in a sort of naval uniform, (two gold bands around their caps, and a gold stripe down the leg of their pants,) and each boy carried a flag. The girls of the Rincon School, numbering three hundred also, left the School in eight large furniture cars, but we saw only a few of these cars in the Procession. A pretty little girl in the first car was gorgeously costumed as the Goddess of Liberty. A beautiful banner, presented to the School early in the morning, was carried by the girls, and bore the suggestive inscription, "Our Country's Hope," (in case she becomes depopulated by the war, probably.)
BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES. - In uniform, and carrying flags and banners, were a long array of Benevolent and Protective Associations . . .
After these followed numberless carriages, containing citizens, and in their wake came the rear guard of citizens on foot, which finished up the almost interminable Procession.
AT THE THEATRE. - After marching through the several streets marked down for it in the programme, the Procession filed down Montgomery street, and disbanded in the vicinity of the Metropolitan Theatre, where the concluding ceremonies of the celebration were to take place.
The Schools were admitted to the theatre first, and a sufficient number were taken from the multitude of citizens outside to fill up the room left vacant - which was not much, of course. The place was so densely packed that we could not find comfortable standing or breathing room, and left, taking it for granted that the following programme would be carried out all the same, and just as well as if we remained:
National Airs by the Bands.
Chant, the Lord's Prayer, by the Children of the Public Schools.
Prayer, by the Rev. Mr. Kittredge.
Reading of the Declaration of Independence, by W. H. L. Barnes, Esq.
"The Battle-Cry of Freedom," by the Children of the Public Schools.
Poem, by J. F. Bowman.
"The Union," by Children of the Public Schools.
Oration, by the Rev. H. W. Bellows.
"O wrap the flag around me, boys," by Children.
"America," by the Children.
THE FIREWORKS. - The huge framework for the pyrotechnic display was set up at the corner of Fifth and Harrison streets, and by the time the first rocket was discharged, every vacant foot of ground for many a square around was closely crowded with people. There could not have been less than fifteen thousand persons stretching their necks in that vicinity for a glimpse of the show, and certainly not more than thirteen thousand of them failed to see it. The spot was so well chosen, on such nice level ground, that if your stature were six feet one, a trifling dwarf with a plug hat on could step before you and shut you out from the exhibition, as if you were stricken with a sudden blindness. Carriages, which no man might hope to see through, were apt to drive along and stop just ahead of you, at the most interesting moment, and if you changed your position men would obstruct your vision by climbing on each others' shoulders. The grand discharges of rockets, however, and their bursting spray of many-colored sparks, were visible to all, after they had reached a tremendous altitude, and these gave pleasure and brought solace to many a sorrowing heart behind many an untransparent vehicle. Still we know that the fireworks on the night of the Fourth, mottoes, temples, stars, triangles, Catherine wheels, towers, pyramids, and, in fact, every department of the exhibition, formed by far the most magnificent spectacle of the kind ever witnessed on the Pacific coast. The reason why we know it is, that that infamous, endless, Irish giant, at Gilbert's Museum, stood exactly in front of us the whole evening, and he said so.
A number of balls and parties and a terrific cannonade of fire crackers, kept up all night long, finished the festivities of this memorable Fourth of July in San Francisco.
Return to Call index
Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search