July 4th.—THE WEATHER to-day, upon the whole, is very fine, warm, but from a smart rain last night, fresh enough, and no dust, which is a great relief for this city. I saw the parade about noon, Pennsylvania avenue, from Fifteenth street down toward the capitol. There were three regiments of infantry, (I suppose the ones doing patrol duty here,) two or three societies of Odd Fellows, a lot of children in barouches, and a squad of policemen. (A useless imposition upon the soldiers—they have work enough on their backs without piling the like of this.) As I went down the Avenue, saw a big flaring placard on the bulletin board of a newspaper office, announcing “Glorious Victory for the Union Army!” Meade had fought Lee at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, yesterday and day before, and repuls’d him most signally, taken 3,000 prisoners, &c. (I afterwards saw Meade’s despatch, very modest, and a sort of order of the day from the President himself, quite religious, giving thanks to the Supreme, and calling on the people to do the same.)
I walk’d on to Armory hospital—took along with me several bottles of blackberry and cherry syrup, good and strong, but innocent. Went through several of the wards, announc’d to the soldiers the news from Meade, and gave them all a good drink of the syrups with ice water, quite refreshing—prepar’d it all myself, and serv’d it around. Meanwhile the Washington bells are ringing their sundown peals for Fourth of July, and the usual fusilades of boys’ pistols, crackers, and guns.
From Walt Whitman's Specimen Days, courtesy of our friends at CyberWalt.