1863.42

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Union Army Captain Sees Base Ball Good for Morale, and Health Too

Salience Peripheral
Tags Civil War, Famous, Military
City/State/Country: Stafford, VA, United States
Game Base Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult
Notables General Joseph Hooker, Union Army
Text

[A]  “The Rochester Evening Express published a letter from a soldier dated March 31, 1863, saying the Union Troops near what is now Leeland Station in Stafford were amusing themselves by running races and ‘playing ball, the latter being the favorite amusement or our correspondent. ‘We played nearly all day yesterday, our gallant Colonel looking on with as much pleasure as though he had a hand in . . . . (Quite a number of spectators assembled on our parade ground to witness the expertness of our officers, as they were practicing a match-game with the commissioned officers of the veteran 13th.) I learn that the 108th Regiment and the 14th Brooklyn Regiment were to play a match game of ball to-day for a purse of $25. . . . It may appear that we should be engaged in something else beside playing base ball, but I tell you it is one of the best things in the world to keep up the spirits of the men, , and not only that, but it is of vast importance to their health, and necessary to the development of their muscle . . . . The old veteran Joe (Gen. Joseph Hooker) himself can be seen out on the field encouraging the boys on as earnest as if he were on the battlefield.”

[B] In a 2001 article, Allison Barash cites parts of this communiqué, and adds that the writer was “Captain Patrick H. “True Blue” Sullivan of the 140th New York Volunteers, who had played for Rochester’s Lone Stars Club before the war and was obviously hopelessly addicted to the game, left many written statements of Civil War ballgames.” She does note give a source for this passage or the other writings.

Sources

 [A]Michael Zitz, “Soldiers Recount Stafford Baseball Games,” carried on the Fredericksburg.com website, accessed 6/14/2009. Google search <of the veteran 13th>.

[B]Allison C. Barash, “Baseball in the Civil War, The National Pastime (January 2001), pp 17-18. Stafford VA is about 10 miles north of Fredericksburg and 65 miles north of Richmond.

 

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