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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Bridge Banquet

Bridge Banquet

GRHC - July 7th, 2010

Civil War soldiers are greeted with a lavish banquet upon their return to Grand Rapids.    



When the soldiers returned from the South in 1865, Grand Rapids wanted to show its gratitude so a Fourth of July dinner was planned. The only place in town to set a table of sufficient length was on the Pearl St. Bridge. The cobwebs and dust of six years were swept into the Grand River and two long rows of tables were placed end to end on the bridge roadway. They were loaded with all the good things the country and city afforded, roast pig, turkey, duck, chicken, cake, pie, jellies and preserves and would you believe it, beans, beans, beans , enough to feed an army corps.

But how to get this feast to Sherman’s “bummers,” Sheridan’s “Jayhawkers” and Grant’s “Mudsills” and keep it away from the home guard, had not been planned. Before noon the streets at both ends of the bridge were crowded and nearly every soldier had brought his family or his best girl. The guards found it hard to draw the line.

The soldiers paid more attention to the happy, daintily dressed waitresses at the tables than they did to the pies that their mothers made. The tables were cleared away and the couples tried to dance on the rough roadway of the bridge. They found more pleasure talking in the moonlight at Hovey’s Grove, a picnic ground with benches, swings and tables in a grove of oaks not far from the bridge on the West Side.

This homecoming was long remembered by the soldiers of the Civil War and by the citizens who planned and conducted it. 

Full Details

TitleBridge Banquet
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, Civil War, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringJuly 7th, 2010

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