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Sergeant from 15th MA Plays Round Ball with 34th NY

Salience Peripheral
Tags Civil War, Military
Location VA
City/State/Country: Falmouth, VA, United States
Game Round Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult

At Falmouth VA, excerpts from the diary of Sgt Earle of the 15th MA notes games of ball with the 34th NY on March 18 and again on April 16, 1863 in the regimental history.

The historian, Andrew Ford, writes 35 years later that “during March and April ball playing is frequently mentioned in the diary. The game played in those days was the old-fashioned round ball. Practice games inside the regiment occurred almost daily, and there were several great games with the New York Thirty-Fourth. Our boys were so successful that the captain of the New York team gave up the contest with the admission that if they ‘had been playing for nuts his men wouldn’t even have the shucks.’ The interest taken in these games in the army as a whole almost rivaled that taken in the races, sparring matches, and cock-fights of Meagher’s troops.” Ford does not elaborate on how he concludes that round ball was played, or that the army as a whole was taking to base ball.

Andrew E. Ford, The Story of the Fifteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry [1961-1864] (W. J. Coulter, Clinton [MA?], 1898), pages 242 and 244. Accessed 6/8/09 on Google Books via “’fifteenth Massachusetts’” search. The 15th MA drew significantly from Worcester County MA. The 34th NY regiment was known as the “Herkimer Regiment,” with roots in Herkimer County in Upstate New York; the town of Herkimer is about 15 miles east of Utica on the Mohawk River. The game in this area that preceded the NY game may have been round ball.

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