7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Romantic Independence Day: Part 2 - Inside Old Fort Western

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


Marked 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.

March 5th, 1755 letter from Capt.James Howard to Governor Shirley -
The number of men is small he writes and the ground in the vicinity
of the fort is advantageous for a surprise. The supplies here intended
for Fort Halifax will induce the enemy to attack us.
We have no colors for the fort.
  • 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. 

From the diary of Capt. Henry Dearborn, Sept 24th, 1775 - We lay at Fort Western
preparing for our march. Fort Western stands on the East side of the River and
consists of two Block Houses and a Large House 100 Feet Long which are
Inclosed only with Picquets. This House is now the property of one
Howard Esqr where we were well entertained.

  • 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.
From the diary of Martha Ballard, Aug 4th, 1787 - Clear morn. I pulld flax till
noon. a very Severe Shower of hail with thunder and Litning began at half
after one, Continud near 1 hour. I hear it broke 130 pains of Glass in fort western.
Colon Howard made me a prest of 1 Gal w Rhum & 2 lb Sugar on acount of my
atendance of his famely in Sickness.

  • 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.
In 2011 I shared about my experience of Observing Independence Day at Fort Halifax. I also featured highlights about how the 4th of July was first celebrated in our country. This year I will be celebrating at Old Fort Western with my husband. We will observe the tradition which first began in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read there and has now been reenacted for the past 50 years. The ceremony includes the changing the colors from the British flag to the "new" flag, and a 13-gun salute by cannon. We will watch fireworks in the night sky over the Kennebec River. And of course, I hope to hear more about the true stories that took place long ago within the palisade walls, even as I make my own memories.

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.


Enjoy your day celebrating the freedoms for which many have fought for through the centuries!



  1. Wonderful post, Carla! I really enjoyed reading this and now I want to go there!

  2. I love reading about this time period, thank you for the chance to win this book.


  3. I think it would be wonderful to spend a day of significance at an historical location. You would be able to feel the history.

  4. I hope you had a great time celebrating at the historic Old Fort Western in Augusta, Maine. I have never celebrated at a historic location. However, I did have the opportunity to celebrate in Washington DC one July 4th. It was quite exciting and a memory I treasure.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

  5. Carla, sorry I am just catching up on reading this. What a wonderful post! I've read part of Martha Ballard's diary but did not remember her mention of this fort! Thanks for sharing this fascinating information and I hope that your celebration of the 4th of July was great. Blessings!


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