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Southern Militia Members Visit Elysian Fields on NY Tour

Salience Peripheral
Tags Civil War, Military
City/State/Country: New York, NY, United States
Game Base Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult
"THE RICHMOND GRAYS.  The members of this company, now on a visit to this city, were excused from military duty yesterday, and went where they pleased.  Colonel Lefferts, of the National Guard, with several of his officers, took Captain Elliot and a party of the Grays to Greenwood Cemetery, where they passed a pleasant time in viewing the scenery and monuments.  Quite a number of the Grays visited Hoboken, N.J., where they enjoyed themselves witnessing a match game between rival base ball clubs.  To-day the Virginians will leave for home, and will be escorted to the place of embarkation by the Third and Seventh companies, National Guard, under the command of Captain James Price."
 New York Herald August 17, 1859

Bill Hicklin, 10/5/20 points out that "Militia regiments in that period, especially in major East Coast cities and in the South, were as much social clubs as anything, organized mostly to hold balls and banquets. Compare the New York volunteer fire companies of the 1840s. A 'Road Trip to New York' would have been right up their alley."

Protoball had asked: Was it common for southern soldiers to travel to the north in 1859? Bruce Allardice: "This was not common. The cost was too great. The Richmond Grays were individually wealthy and could afford it. Drill competition between companies in various cities was common in 1859."

From Bruce Allardice, 10/5/20: "The unit was a famous unit of the Virginia volunteer militia, its members being among Richmond's 'elite.'. Captain Elliott became a Confederate army Lt. Colonel. The unit served in the war as part [Company A] of the 1st Virginia Infantry CSA." Bill Hicklin, 10/5/20, adds that it fought "right through to Appomattox."

Why the soldiers headed to a cemetery? Tom Gilbert pointed out, 10/5-6/20, that Green-wood Cemetery was even then a popular visitor attraction. "Green-wood cemetery in Brooklyn not only welcomed tourists but solicited them. The cemetery was designed with the goal of attracting the public. It imported the grave of Dewitt Clinton for that purpose. All of this predated the famous baseball grave monuments of course."

From Richard Hershberger, 10/4/2020: "Richmond is rich with abortive early connections with baseball. In actual practice, baseball took off in Richmond in the summer of 1866, right on schedule for its location, regardless of prior contact with the game."

Note: When base ball got to Richmond it really swept in: as of October 2020, Protoball shows no clubs prior to 1866, but 24 clubs prior to 1867. Some other Chronology entries touching on early base ball in Richmond include 1857.36, 1861.1, 1863.99, and 1866.17.


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 It would be interesting to know whether the Richmond group asked to see base ball played or it was recommended by New Yorkers.



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Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Submission Note Email of 10/3/2020


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