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Local History

Fourth of July 1887

The Springfield Republican printed various articles about the Fourth of July celebration. These articles appeared in the Springfield Republican, July 5, 1887, on page 4.

The Fireworks

"Fireworks on the public square last night attracted an immense crowd, all four sides of the square being packed. From a stand in the center of the square, immense bombs, rockets and fire-wheels were discharged making a beautiful sight as the different colored fires blended or fell in showers from the air. The spectacle was kept up until near midnight."

Burned with powder

"A number of minor casualties resulting from a careless handling of powder, shooting-crackers, toy pistols and the like are reported around the city. The small boy, as usual, got his face and hands burned and in two instances, little daughters of a Mr. West, on the North Side, had their eyes burned severely by the explosion of a giant cracker. Outside of these two, however, none of the accidents were at all severe and were looked upon as a matter of course by patriotic Young America and his parents."

Premature explosion of cannon injures Henry Driesel

"Henry Driesel, a boiler maker in the employ of the St. Louis and San Francisco road, and a member of McCroskey Post 210 G.A.R., met with a terrible accident yesterday morning. He was assisting the artillery squad in firing the Old Town gun on Center Street [now called Central Street] and was acting as No.1. Mr. F. A. Heacker, of Capt. John Matthews Post, G.A.R., was acting as No. 3. Both men were experts with the gun, and in the positions of “Three” at the vent and “One” at the “Sponge-staff “had worked together many times.

"The national salute was being fired and four loads had already been rammed home and successfully discharged. For the fifth cartridge, Mr. Driesel sponged the gun out as he had after the other shots and the load was rammed home good and strong. The word “All right” was passed from No. 3 and he was in the act of withdrawing the rammer when the gun prematurely exploded. The staff struck his arm just above the wrist, tearing the flesh and breaking both of the bones…[Mr. Driesel’s arm was later amputated]…From Captain T.P. Mann was obtained a statement how the accident occurred. He was “No. 2” on the gun and it was his duty to insert the cartridge and wadding. He stated that he had just placed the cartridge in the gun and had stooped to get his wadding when it exploded…Captain Mann states that the gun was rough and honeycombed and the sack containing the powder had been torn and allowed the charge to come in contact with sparks in the holes burned in the bore. The fault was in using a defective piece and not from carelessness of any one. The explosion threw all the gunners to the ground in a stunned condition and the impression was that the cannon had burst."

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