BOSTON — The Massachusetts National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment fired ceremonial cannons at Fort Independence, Castle Island, South Boston on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 in conjunction with the USS Constitution’s firing of cannons for the ships final underway until 2018 as it is due to enter dry dock in March of 2015 for three years.
Fort Independence, Castle Island in Boston has a long connection with the Massachusetts Militia/National Guard. The fort was established in 1634 and was garrisoned by the Massachusetts Militia until about 1770 when British troops took possession. After the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776, an Artillery Battalion of Massachusetts State Troops commanded by Lt. Col. Paul Revere moved in as the full-time garrison.
Full-time state troops remained until 1797 when the fort was transferred to the War Department and Fort Independence became a U.S. Army Coast Artillery Post. Units of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia garrisoned the fort again in 1861 during the first year of the Civil War.
Beginning in 1797, the USS Constitution fired a salute to the U.S. flag flown over the fort as it entered Boston Harbor in the traditional manner when U.S. Navy ships passed coast artillery forts. In return, the garrison fired an exchange salute.
This tradition was revived about 30 years ago when Massachusetts Army National Guard Field Artillery units exchanged gun salutes when the USS Constitution performed its annual turn-around cruise as well as on other occasions when the ship returned to Boston after venturing out to sea.
This military tradition continues to the present day.
The USS Constitution is the Oldest Commissioned Warship afloat and is taken underway five times a year to promote the history of the U.S. Navy. More than 1,000 guests, made up of individuals and organizations with long-standing ties of support to both the ship and the Navy, will accompany Old Ironsides on her fifth and final underway demonstration of 2014.
This will also be the historic warship’s final Boston Harbor underway until 2018, as she is scheduled to enter dry dock in March 2015 for a three-year restoration period.
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