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Eyewitness On the Massacre of Seven U.S Soldiers at Dartmoor Prison in England

Salience Prominent
City/State/Country: England
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Adult

"Two days before this [the argument over bread shortages after which the prisoners helped themselves to the bread supplies], viz., April 6, 1815.  Governor S [Shortland] returned to his station. On learning what had transpired on the evening of the 4th, he declared (as we were told) that he would be revenged on us.  On this 6th day, P.M., some of the prisoners were playing ball in No. 7 yard. Several times the ball was knocked over the wall, and was as often thrown back by the soldiers when kindly asked to do so.  Presently one of he prisoners cried out in quite an authoritative manner, 'Soldier, throw back the ball.'  And because it failed to come, some of the ball-players said, 'We will make a hole in the wall and get it.'  Two or three of them began pecking out the mortar with small stones.  A sentinel on the wall ordered them to desist.  This they did not do until spoken to again. I was walking back and forth  by he place during the time, with others, but did not suppose they could make a hole with the stones they were using, or that anything touching that matter was of much or any importance. Aside from that trifling affair, the prisoners were as orderly and as obedient as at any time in the past."

[Bates then described the killing of the ball-playing prisoners and concluded that seven  were killed and sixty wounded.]    .


Joseph Bates, The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates (Battle Creek, 1868), pp. 51-52,  per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 39.

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OK, was the game played a batting/baserunning game or a form of handball?  Does the term "knocked" over the wall give any clue?

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