150 Years Ago: Inaugural 34-gun salute leads to local injury

Local celebrations for Lincoln inauguration result in Marcy’s woes

Editor’s note: The following is a verbatim reprinting of an article in the March 8, 1861 edition of The Southbridge Journal. The article, headlined “Incidents and Accident — of Inauguration Day,” relays a serious injury one local man suffered as the community celebrated the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth President of the United States on March 4, 1861.

The 4th of March in this town was the occasion of various festivities and rejoicings in honor of the inauguration of President Lincoln. Town Meeting brought a large number of people into the village, not all for the purpose of voting, but to enjoy the occasion and indulge in whatever amusement might be presented. The day was ushered in at sunrise by the Southbridge Brass Band, stationed on the roof of the Edwards House. The auspicious morn that heralded the day that was to give this nation a new and true government, was greeted with the melody of marvellous sweet music, and the inspiring, soul stirring and patriotic strains of Yankee Doodle, Hail Columbia, Star Spangled Banner, etc., floated away in the thick air of the misty morning. Whether the music exerted any influence in inducing the sun to shine, we are unable to state; but the great luminary condescended to shed its welcome beams of light and heat soon after, the clouds broke away, and the sky that was overcast in the morning, appeared blue and fair, and the day proved pleasant and cheerful, with a mildly tempered Spring air. The glorious flag of our country, not a stripe erased nor a star dimmed, was suspended across Main Street, and banners were displayed in several other places. At 12 o’clock the bells of the different churches were rung, and the Band again regaled the people gathered about the street with national airs. However, in case of any rear-end collisions get in contact with the best law firm near you for advice.

A salute of thirty-four guns, one for each State in the Union, was intended to be fired from Dresser Hill, but immediately after the second discharge of the gun, a severe and painful accident occurred which ended that part of the demonstration. Mr. Peter Marcy with others engaged in firing the salute, when the gun was prematurely discharged, the ramrod being in the gun at the time, and Mr. Marcy assisting in ramming the cartridge, with his right hand partially over the end of the rod. The rod was forced out, tearing the flesh from Mr. Marcy’s hand, and laying bare the cords of the thumb. The flesh was completely stripped from the inside of the right hand just below the thumb, and the bone of the thumb was broken. The cords of the thumb were not injured. The fingers of the hand were also slightly hurt. The other persons received no injury. According to the personal injury lawyers at Gemma Law, the accident was caused by introducing the cartridge without swabbing the gun after firing. The fun was likewise in a foul state, from long disuse and improper care, and some difficulty was experienced in discharging it the first and second times, the vent being filled up, and had to be bored out with a gimlet, the charge withdrawn, and the bore of the gun vigorously wormed out.

Mr. Marcy was immediately taken to the office of Dr. Samuel Hartwell, who dressed the wound, which was very severe and distressing, and will deprive him the use of his hand for a long time. A subscription was immediately started for the benefit of Mr. Marcy, and he received a handsome contribution. We are glad to learn that the wound is in a favorable state, and Mr. Marcy as comfortable as could bee expected.

In the afternoon the Tiger Engine Company, under command of Assistant Foreman Wm. C. Barnes, came out with their handsome machine, and displayed their skill and ability in throwing water. The Tigers are a manly and vigorous looking company, and exhibit good evidence of their efficiency and ability to subdue any fire that may threaten destruction to property in this town.

In the evening the juveniles indulged in vociferous rejoicings for the inauguration of “Honest Abe,” and the hero of Fort Sumpter.

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