Gaspee Days Committee History Files
Gaspee Days in 1875 as presented in the Providence Evening Press and the Providence Daily Journal

Two days previous to the publication of these two articles below, on June 10th, 1875, which was the 103rd anniversary of the Burning of the Gaspee, it is notable that the Providence Daily Journal also ran a lengthy retelling of the Gaspee Affair.  The article was written by John Russell Bartlett and is largely based on his 1861 work, History of the Destruction of His Britannic Majesty's Schooner Gaspee.
Providence Evening Press

Splendid Illumination.
The PRESS of last evening contained a brief history of the historical event which was celebrated so successfully on the shores of Mashapaug, under the auspices of the Ladies' Centennial Committee; and also some account of the forenoon exercises on .the grounds.

The spot selected was the grove and open field around the little cove which makes in from the pond just above the ice houses, and a more charming location could not be found, in the State. It was generally remarked that few people were aware of the existence of so attractive a retreat within so short a distance of the centre of the city. Tents were pitched very much at random about the grounds wherever convenience dictated. The cafe tent was situated a short distance from the entrance, and contained numerous refreshment tables under the charge of delegates from the different wards in the city. In the centre of this tent was a confectionery table, elaborately adorned with bunting, Chinese lanterns, flowers, etc. The ladies having supervision of the tables were relieved every three hours, and fresh substitutes were provided. Refreshments were also dispensed at other tents about the grounds. The Eighth Ward Committee, Mrs. J. H. Kendrick, chairman, had charge of the fruit tent, winch was handsomely decorated. The Second Ward Committee, Mrs. Caroline Richmond, chairman, managed the ice cream tent. This tent was crowded with visitors, and the attendants were busily engaged during the day and evening in supplying customers. The Fifth Ward was a grand affair and was under the management of Mrs. James C. Bucklin, assisted by an able corps of young ladies. The table was ornamented with a bower of wild flowers, and there were also some twenty handsome bouquets presented by the pupils of the Point Street Grammar School. Besides, there was a very pretty lemonade well and a Goddess of Liberty table. At this table Gaspee souvenirs were sold, and found a large number of purchasers. The special tables of the Sixth Ward and the Ninth Ward, were managed respectively by Mrs. Lewis T. Downs and Mrs. Clifton A. Hall. The candy table was in charge of the Fourth Ward Committee, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Andrews, chairman; the Third Ward Committee, Mrs. Albert G. Durfee, chairman, had charge of the goat carriages; the Seventh Ward Committee, Miss Minnie S. Knight, chairman, had the management of the swings, and the Tenth Ward Committee, Mrs. Metcalf, chairman, sent a very large contribution of milk and cream, while the ladies from that ward, as, in fact, from all the wards rendered efficient assistance in attending the tables, etc. A noticeable and commendable feature was the perfect unanimity and zeal with which the ladies worked, not deigning to recognize ward lines, or the east and west side of the river.

The East Greenwich delegation, Mrs. T. W. Chace, chairman, had a tent in the rear of the cafe tent, where young ladies were engaged in spinning in the style of one hundred years ago.
 East Providence sent a committee of thirty ladies, who rendered efficient aid at the various tables, besides contributing a large amount of edibles. Down by the shore Hiram Maxfield had a clam bake and shore dinner, and it was a great success, as some seven or eight hundred experimenters can testify. The same may be said of the clam chowder managed by the famous Boynton of Squantum. In the grove proper and around in various nooks were swings and little tables of confectionery for the benefit of the little folks, whose pleasure was especially and very successfully consulted in the arrangements.

was not only very large, but quite remarkable for good order. Although not less than eight or ten thousand persons must have visited the grounds during the day, hardly a single case of improper conduct of any sort was reported.  It was a well-dressed and respectable  gathering and included a large number of prominent citizens, of both sexes, if one may say so. Children were everywhere, and seemed to believe that there certainly could not be another day coming. So they played with a zeal which considered only the business in hand, no small share of which was to excite the amazement of some more or less elderly unmarried persons who sat around in shady spots and watched their gambols.

One of the conspicuous features of the day was the parade of the First Light Infantry. The command left the armory at three o'clock, and moved up Westminster, High, Winter, Broad and Greenwich streets to the grove. The line was preceded by Roundsman Wheeler with a platoon of police and Gilmore's Band of Pawtucket and the Infantry Drum Corps. Col. R. H. I. Goddard was in command, and was attended by the field and staff officers. Company A was commanded by Captain A. J. Kendrick; Company B by Captain E..F..Annable; Company C by Captain William Frankland and Company D by Captain E. Draper. The companies were assigned positions in the line in the order named. The battalion mustered full ranks and made an imposing appearance. The day was hot and the march long, and when the soldiers arrived at the grounds they had a tolerable conception of the weariness of forced marches on a warm summer's day. At the grounds the battalion was received by the marshals and escorted over a devious route. The thousands of visitors who had already arrived were gladdened by the appearance of the troops and a joyous welcome beamed on the faces of the happy pleasure seekers. When the march over the undulating grounds was finished the battalion proceeded to a large open field on the south. They were the cynosure of all eyes and their dashing and brilliant uniforms contrasted pleasingly with the milder-hued raiment of spectators. Various evolutions were executed and then the ranks were broken and the men were given a respite for an hour. Their freedom from the formal restraints of military discipline was enjoyed with friends in visiting and inspecting the attractions on the grounds, and these were sufficiently numerous and interesting in character to afford them pleasurable relaxation after the toils of the day. At five o'clock the assembly was sounded by the drum corps and from the pleasant retreats and agreeable companions they rallied for dress parade. The parade took place in the open field and was witnessed by an immense concourse of spectators. Lieutenant Colonel E. B. Bullock, was in command and after the parade the battalion went through various company and battalion movements, the open field affording excellent facilities for the display of their superior attainments in battalion movements. After this the battalion was dismissed till half past seven o'clock, when the line was formed and the military returned to the city and were dismissed at the armory.  Their afternoon experience was pleasant, and not only agreeable for themselves, but the source of much pleasure to the thousands who spent the day in celebrating the event so conspicuously honored by the ladies of Rhode Island.

In connection with the other features of the celebration, the Narragansett Boat Club held its annual spring regatta on Mashapaug Pond, and provided a programme of three races. A half mile course was laid out, the starting stakes being driven into the bed of the pond opposite the ice houses. Three sets of stakes were provided, allowing to each boat its own stake boat at the start and the upper turn, thus reducing the danger of fouls to a minimum. The first race was fixed for half-past four, and promptly at that hour, the judges' boat paddled out to the west stake, and the race for single scull shells was called. The lake was in beautiful order, and the slight breeze from the northeast only served to temper the heat, which must else have been oppressive. Three contestants appeared for the first contest: Messrs. H. 0. Smith, Walter R. Stiness, and H. Gardner, ranging from west to east in the order named. There being no current and little wind, no delay was made in coming into line, and the word "go" was promptly given. Stiness had the best of the start and shot to the front on the second stroke. Gardner was next and Smith was third, catching the water less firmly on the first stroke. All three took a wide sweep to the westward, and the steering was bad from the beginning. Halfway up the course, Stiness became aware of this serious error, and shifted his course toward the turning stake, Gardner following and Smith going still widely to the westward. At the turn, Stiness and Gardner were well together, but Stiness drew ahead on the way down, and turned the home stake first, in 8:22.5, followed by Gardner in 8:46 and Smith in 8:47. On the second mile Stiness preserved his lead and came in first in 17:01. He labored under the disadvantage of rowing in a boat with fixed seat and much too light for him, but won by a knowledge of the. art of rowing joined to good form and staying power. He will be remembered by boating men as pulling a waist oar in the strong freshman crew which Brown University sent last year to Saratoga. Gardner and Smith made a very pretty fight for the second place and Smith won by only three-quarters of a second in 17:16.5 to Gardner's 17:17.25. Both rowed in sliding seat shells with one lap, the former built by Blakie, of Cambridge, and the latter by E. Bowler & Co., of this city.

The second race was for single scull wherries, one mile, and was entered by F. Gladding and J. Jones, using the lapstreaks known in the club as "the sisters." Gladding had the best of the start and held his advantage to the close. The steering of both was even worse than their predecessors, and they must have rowed considerably more than a mile each. Gladding won in 9:25 to Junes' 9.57.5. Both were almost on a level as to style, but the winner excelled in staying power.

The chief interest of the day centered on the three mile race for two six and one four oared shell. The course being a half-mile, this made five turns necessary, and so gave a fair test of the ability of each crew to handle its boat as well as to pull it.  Charles M. Smith, Captain of the Club, commanded the "Henry T. Cornett," H. Knight, the "L'Esperance" and E. F. Tourtellot, the "Arthur F. Dexter," four-oared. Tlie "Cornett" being lighter and having sliding seats, allowed the "L'Esperance" 30 seconds, and the "L'Esperance" allowed 30 seconds to the "Dexter" for the two extra oars, thus giving the "Dexter" a lead of a full minute ahead of the "Cornett." The boats were started in that order, and each went away on a jump. The four-oared boat threw a great deal of unnecessary spray and wasted half its lead by an astonishing detour to the westward. The L'Esperance was well rowed forward and aft, but the waist men will bear more coaching. Her course was something better than that of the four-oar, but not so good as another year's practice will be likely to make it. The stroke of the "Cornett" crew, (the representative Narragansett six, by the way,) was very good. With the exception of the style of No. 3, who depends too much on his arms, there was no conspicuous flaw in the work and the appearance of the six was generally complimented. Long experience enabled Capt. Smith to lay a much better course than the other two boats had taken, and the race seemed his from the beginning. He was first at the home stake at the end of the first mile in 7:03, and also at the end of the second mile in 15 minutes, the "L'Esperance" being half a minute behind. At the end of the third mile the "L'Esperance" crossed the line first in 25:41.25, the "Cornett" being second in 25:48.5 and the "Dexter" third in 26:59.5

These figures represent tlie time from giving the start to the first boat and the deduction of the time allowance leaves for the "L'Esperance" the actual time 25:11.25 and "Cornett" 24:48.5. The whole regatta, therefore, resulted as by following

Narragansett Boat Club, spring regatta, Mashapaug Pond, June 11, 1875. Half mile course, from Carpenter's ice houses.

Race for single scull shells, mile and return, bronze medal and silver cup to winner, silver medal to second.

Colors.   Boat.   Time. 
W. R. Stiness   Red   I Guess Not  17:01 
H. 0. Smith   White   Swallow  17:16.5
H. Gardner   Blue   Butterfly  17:17.25

Race for single scull wherries, half mile and return, silver medal to winner.
F. Gladding   Blue   Martha   9:25
J. Jones   White   Mary   9:57.5

Race for six and four-oared shells, mile and a half and return. Six gilt medals and set of colors to winners, six small gilt medals to second crew.
H. Knight, Captain Red    L'Esperance  25:11.25
C. M. Smith, Capt. Blue H. T. Cornett  24:48.5
K.F.Tourtellot, Capt. White A. F. Dexter  26:59.5
Corrected for time allowance : L'Esperance, 25:41.25; H. T. Cornett, 25:48.5'

Referee, Col. C. D. Jillson; starter and judge, Mr. O. M. Remington; time-keeper, Mr. W. H. Fredericks.

Tlie concourse in attendance at the festivities awaited with expectancy the exercises of the evening. At the conclusion of the dress parade there was a rush made for the refreshment tents, and for some time the attendants were busily employed in supplying the throng with edibles. The grounds were brilliantly illuminated with Chinese lanterns and locomotive head lights, presenting an animated and attractive appearance. Long before the hour announced for the burning of the Gaspee the shores on both sides of the pond were crowded and accessions to the vast concourse continued to be made till a late hour, every one being anxious to witness the cremation. Soon after eight o'clock colored fires were burned, rockets were sent up and altogether a good pyrotechnical display was made.

The Gaspee was run aground about midway in the pond, so that all had a good view of the burning. The cremation was under the direction of Mr. W. Wightman, and a few minutes before nine o'clock he applied the torch to the vessel, and

 "Lo! from the assembled crowd, Arose a shout prolonged and loud,"
while the strains of the band rose high o'er the din and clamor. The fire burned slowly, at first, but being fanned by the breeze into a lively blaze, it communicated to all parts of the boat. The tar barrels aboard blazed up furiously, sky rockets shot high in the air, the red and green fires burned brilliantly, the vast assembly became enthusiastic, and tumultuous cheers were echoed along the shores of Mashapaug. Surrounding objects were made conspicuous by the illumination, and the scene enabled the concourse to form a vivid conception of that other memorable scene, so worthily commemorated yesterday by the ladies of our city. Soon the craft was burned to the water's edge, and as the ensign of "Perfidious Albion" sank beneath tho waters when the boat capsized, patriotic cheers uprose from the multitude lining both banks of the pond.

The assembly then slowly dispersed, the steam and horse cars being heavily freighted with those returning to their homes after the experience of the day.

The festival proved a brilliant success in every respect, and the ladies are to be congratulated on the energy, indomitable perseverance and patriotism displayed by them in laboring so assiduously as to make the celebration worthy of the event commemorated. Mrs. Goddard, Chairman of the Women's Centennial Committee, worked for the success of tho affair with in defatigable industry, and to her efforts in planning and supervising the arrangements is largely due the gratifying success of the festival. She was ably assisted by willing helpers, and all may justly feel proud at the large measure of success with which their efforts have been rewarded.

The ladies gratefully acknowledge tlic kindness of the city officials for the use of flags and causing the flags raising on the city flag staffs; to the Worcester Railroad Company for the use of locomotive head lights for lighting up the grounds; to the Stonington Railroad for running extra trains and for placing guards at the crossing to prevent accidents; to the Highway Department for gratuitous services; to the gentlemen who kindly volunteered their services as marshals; to Messrs C. A. Hall, G. M. Ardoene, Greene, Eaton, H.A. Joslin, J. Harry Welch, to the Police Department under command of Deputy Chief Ayer, and to others who assisted in the festival.

The Chief Marshal of the day was Mr. S. F. Brownell, who had as assistants Messrs. G. E. Boynton, R. Gammell, A. T. Carrington, Theodore King, William Daboll, W. Cushing, C. Mauran, W. Wightman, J. Goodwin, J. Davis, A. C. Barstow,.Jr., W. G. Nightingale, J. C. B. Woods, H. V. A. Joslin and R. C. Brown.

Officer Stackpole was severely hurt in the head by one of the stakes holding the rope enclosing the grounds. A horse which ran away dashed against the rope and pulled up the stake so suddenly that it struck the officer in the head. He had to be conveyed in a carriage to his home.

Officer Howes was kicked in the ribs and severely hurt by Deputy Chief Ayer's horse, which he was holding. The horse took fright and plunged and kicked and broke the bridle. Officer Howes was conveyed home in a carriage.

A large model of the Gaspee, manufactured in Boston, was disposed of on shares at the Fifth Ward table» and was awarded to Mrs. Charles E. Carpenter. An unusually large number of souvenirs were sold at this table during the day.

Mrs. J. C. Bucklin, chairman of the Fifth Ward Committee, was made the recipient of a handsome souvenir by the ladies of the ward. It bore an appropriate inscription and was withal a pretty testimoial and worthily bestowed.

In the East Greenwich tent was shown a puzzle made by a prisoner on the Gaspee. He had been promised his liberty on condition of his devising a puzzle which none on board could solve. It is not known that he succeeded in obtaining freedom in this way, but the puzzle seems to be an ingenious contrivance.

The flax used to illustrate the operation of spinning in "ye olden tyme" was grown on the farm of Paul Weaver in 1811.

The names of heroes prominent in the revolutionary war were conspicuously displayed on shields decorating the several tents.

The arrangements for taking visitors to and from the grove were excellent. At an early hour in the forenoon the Elmwood horse cars began to convey pleasure seekers to the scene, and the trains on the Stonington railroad also carried a large number thither, the conveyance from the railroad station to the grove being by teams. The crowd of visitors was unusually large, and sauntered about the grounds finding additional pleasure in each object of interest.
Providence Daily Journal
    June 12, 1875

Providence and Vicinity
The Gaspee Festival
One of June's Perfect Days
The Centennial Ladies Jubilant
        Unbounded Success
Mashapaug Grove in Holyday Attire
Immense Crowds in Attendance
"Could a finer day have been asked for than this for the celebration of the one hundred and third anniversary of the burning of the British Schooner Gaspee — the first blow struck for American freedom. Was there ever a nearer perfect day?"

The grounds of Mashapaug Grove were filled with tents whose flowery descriptions are too lengthy to be contained here — so impressed was the news man of the day.

Goat Carriages, swings, and teeters gave the younger patriots full enjoyment. Herrick's Brigade Band filled the air with music. There was a famed Clam Bake managed by John Slocum. The Military dress parade proved quite an attraction to the assemblage; and the afternoon Regatta passed off smoothly with winners taking silver cup, and bronze or silver medallions.
(Toward the close of the day, the news account continues:)
The Destruction of the Gaspee
In the evening the grove was brilliantly lighted with Chinese lanterns and locomotive head lights, making an ever-changing scene long to be remembered. Soon after 8 o'clock a signal-rocket called the vast assemblage to the shores of the pond to witness the event of the day, the burning of H.R.M. schooner Gaspee. The ill-fated schooner fully rigged and proudly flying the British flags that had been placed in position (supposed to have run aground) about half-way between the two shores of the pond, where thousands of people could easily see all that was going on. Not only one, but dozens of "long boats" put out from the shore, only one of which, however, was on business, the rest containing parties of pleasure, who thus had an excellent opportunity to see. while enjoying the pleasures of an evening sail. In due time the match was applied and the long boat left. Now there was enthusiasm of the in-tensest kind. There were universal shouting and clapping of hands, though the demonstration was not of the noisy sort. As the flames spread along the hull and up the rigging the band lent its aid to the enthusiasm by pouring forth national airs, while sky rockets and other fireworks helped illuminate the scene. The flames lit up the shores bringing the multitudes on either side into full view making one wish he, too, were in a boat, that he might see both sides at once. It was a sight well worth seeing. When the Union Jack went out in blaze, there was another outburst of patriotic joy. After burning a quarter of an hour or so, the masts and rigging fell over the side, nothing was left but the hull, still burning fiercely, and the crowds began to disperse. A few moments more, and the 'Gaspee had again been burned in Rhode Island waters.'
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