On Monday I shared about the romance of visiting America's oldest standing wooden fort, Old Fort Western in Augusta, Maine in my post A Romantic Independence Day: Part 1.
ro·man·ticMarked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized.
Today I'd like to share some of the stories I've learned about the old colonial fort. You'll soon see why I'm so excited to spend the 4th of July visiting there again.
- During the French & Indian war, Captain Howard's son, John, performed a heroic deed by carrying dispatches from Fort Western to General Wolfe in Quebec when a weary dispatcher arrived at the fort's doors unable to continue his trek through the unbroken wilderness of Maine, where the Indian foe often laid in ambush, to the to French stronghold.
- Cushnoc, now Augusta, held its first town meeting and religious services at Fort Western. The first marriage was held under the roof of the Old Fort in 1763. Captain Howard's daughter, Margaret, who wed the gallant Captain Samuel Patterson. The bride's father married the couple as Captain Howard was justice of the peace and the only person in the settlement qualified to perform the nuptials. A few years later, Captain Samuel Howard brought his bride, the beautiful Sarah Lithgow, from Fort Halifax.
- In the days of the Revolution there must have been many hot discussions held around the hearth at the Old Fort. Some of the members of the Plymouth Company were Tories while Captain Howard and his two sons were staunch patriots who served on the Committee of Safety who formed a military company of which William Howard was leader. William and his brother, Samuel, both saw active service during the war for Independence. Incidentally, William resided at the fort with his family until 1810 and Howard women lived there until the mid-19th century.
- In 1775 Benedict Arnold and his 1,100 troops used it as a staging point for his ill-fated assault on Quebec during the American Revolution when their journey took them through the Maine wilderness up the Kennebec River to their Canadian destination. While Arnold and some of his officers stayed at Captain Howard's great house that he had built nearby, the army was lodged and entertained at the fort, the residence of his son Colonel William Howard. There is a story of a grand feast that was held with pumpkin pies and bear on the menu. One of the officers, the young Arron Burr, who later became president, was present with a young Abenaki woman named Jacataqua who followed him to Canada. Also present were two camp followers, wives of Pennsylvania Riflemen. One was Jemima Warner, the teenage bride of a private, who after burrying her husband, took his place in the company. She was captured in Quebec when she carried a proposal for surrender to the British from Brig. Later released, she was killed in combat and is renowned for being the first woman to die in military service in our country.
- In 1779, three years after the American Patriots had declared independence from Britain, a British naval and military force landed troops at Castine, Maine to established the colony of New Ireland. Massachusetts raised a force to drive the British out with Col. Paul Revere in charge. The so-called Penobscot Expedition was mismanaged and Fort Western once again opened its doors to weary soldiers from Revere's artillery on their way back to Boston.
- More true stories include the famed midwife and healer, Martha Ballard, whose husband was a surveyor for the Kennebec Proprietors, served many families along the Kennebec River. In 1780's she spent time at the Old Fort nursing several members of the Howard family from diseases such as bilious fever (gastrointestinal illness) and canker rash (scarlet fever). She saw this family through times of illness and death and most certainly times when they welcomed new life at the Old Fort. Martha Ballard frequently visited Fort Western to purchase goods from the Howard's store.
How are you celebrating Independence Day? Have you ever spent the 4th of July at an historical location?
GIVEAWAY: For those who comment on this post and/or our post on July 3th (two chances to win), you will be eligible to win a copy of my book Colonial Courtships that features my novella Carving a Future, which is set in the same time period that Old Fort Western was built.
DON'T MISS THE SLIDESHOW FOR AN INSIDE VIEW OF OLD FORT WESTERN!
Enjoy your day celebrating the freedoms for which many have fought for through the centuries!
GOD BLESS AMERICA!