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Ballplaying Watched by “Great Crowds of Soldiers,” and Some Play at Verge of Battle

Salience Peripheral
Tags Civil War, Military
City/State/Country: Falmouth, VA, United States
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Adult

“Another favorite amusement in the corps was the game of base ball. There were many excellent players in the different regiments, and it was common for the ball-players of one regiment or brigade to challenge another regiment or brigade.’ He added: ‘These matches were watched by great crowds of soldiers with intense interest.’”

George T. Stevens, Three Years in the Sixth Corps (Gray, Albany, 1866), page 183. Accessed on Google Books 6/15/09 via “’three years with the sixth’” search. (Part of this passage is cited in George B. Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray, (Princeton U Press, 2003), page 37). Stevens’ 77th NY was in winter camp at White Oak Church, near Falmouth VA, in 1862-63. Stevens was a regimental surgeon.

Stevens [page 191] also reports that, awaiting the assault on Chancellorsville, even as the sounds of nearby clashes rolled in, “the thundering of the guns and the trembling of the earth seemed like a series of earthquakes. The spirit of our boys rose, and the battle on the right progressed, and there seemed to be indications of work for them. Groups might be seen at any time, when we were not standing in the line of battle, telling yarns, singing songs, playing ball, and pitching quoits, while they momentarily looked for the order to advance upon the heights, into the very jaws of death.”

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