|Ft. Stanwix, NY|
The joyful news of Independence being declared reached this fort yesterday about 11 o'clock. Pleasing approbation sat on every countenance, came mere expressive of a Joy not to be contained. Col. Dayton shortly after ordered the Soldiers from work, that they might drink success to the free & Independent States of America. The Declaration of Congress was read, and succeeded by the Fire of three Canon from the Fort; three Huzzahs; and this Sentence "God Bless the United States of America."
Three barrels of grog were brought immediately after this, into the Center (the Battalions having formed a Circle within the Fort); the Colonel took the Cup & drank as a Toast the above sentence, which instantly produced three Huzzas; in turn Col White & I drank our separate Toasts, which were succeeded by the same Signals of Approbation. The rest of the Officers drank round; afterwards the Battalion. When the whole had finished, the Regiment was formed into a square, the Preparation for marching slow step being given, this Sentence was proclaimed "God bless the United States of America," and three Huzzas were given. The Battalion marched; they halted twice, the Sentence was twice repeated with the like Accalamations.
SOURCE: Major F. Barber (at Ft. Stanwix) to Rev. James Caldwell, July 17, 1776, Murray Papers, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ. You can read the entire letter here.