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1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
"Much of the trouble of the (U. of S. Carolina) professors have have no doubt been obviated if there had been outdoor sports or athletics to relieve pent up animal spirits. A game of ball, perhaps, 'town ball,' or 'cat', was played."
Edwin L. Green, A History of the University of South Carolina (The State Company, 1916), page 242.
The text does not state the exact period that is described in this account.
1855c.2 Town Ball Played in South Carolina
A woman in South Carolina remembers: "The first school I attended with other pupils was in 1855. Our teacher was a kind man, Mr. John Chisholm. The schoolhouse was the old Covenanter brick church. We had a long school day. We commenced early in the morning and ended just before sundown. We had an hour's intermission for dinner and recreation. The boys played town ball and shot marbles, and the few girls in school looked on, enjoyed, and applauded the fine plays."
Remarks of Mrs. Cynthia Miller Coleman [born 1/17/1847], Ridgeway, SC, at loc.gov oral history website:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/wpa/30081905.html, accessed 2/11/10.
Ridgeway SC is in central SC, about 25 miles north of Columbia.
1857.37 Charleston Newspaper Urges Cricket to help "Physical Education"
The Charleston Mercury in the late 1850s wrote or ran several editorial promoting physical fitness. That of May 20, 1857, titled "Physical Education," recommended cricket for exercise. That of July 21, 1856 is to the same effect.
Charleston Mercury, May 20, 1857; July 21, 1856
1861.29 3rd NH Celebrates Thanksgiving in SC “In Playing Ball, Turkey Shooting”
Writing to the editor of the Manchester NH Farmer’s Cabinet, a soldier Mudsill noted that while awaiting further orders on the South Carolina island of Port Royal in November 1861, the 3rd NH observed a “regular, old-fashioned New England Thanksgiving Thursday, away down here in Dixie?” The pumpkin pies and plum pudding were missing, but “the day was passed in playing ball, turkey shooting, and in the afternoon a pole was erected and the regimental flag run up, amid a thousand cheers.” He does not further describe the ball game.
Source: “Our Army Correspondence: Letter from the N. H. Third,” Farmer’s Cabinet, December 12, 1861.. Accessed via Genealogybank subscription, 5/21/09.
1862.22 Crowd of 40,000 Said to Watch Christmas Day Game on SC Coast
"In Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Christmas Day in 1862, recalled Colonel A. G. Mills in 1923, his regiment, the 165th New York Infantry, Second Duryea's Zouaves, [engaged a?] picked nine from the other New York regiments in that vicinity.' Supposedly, the game was cheered on by a congregation of 40,000!" Mills eventually served as President of the National League and chair of the Mills Commission on the origins of baseball.
Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), pp 21-22. Millen cites A. G. Mills, "The Evening World's Baseball Panorama." Mills Papers, Giamatti Center, Baseball HOF. The account also appears in A. Spalding, Americas' National Game (American Sports Publishing, 1911), pp 95.96. PBall file -- CW-30
Is this crowd estimate reasonable? Are other contemporary or reflective accounts available?
The crowd estimate is exaggerated. There weren't anywhere near 40,000 troops on the island at that time. [ba]
1862.35 Massachusetts Officers Play Ball in May, on July 4
May: “One of the boys in a letter home vividly describes a hailstorm . . . ‘one day we had a regular hailstorm . . . The boys were out playing ball when it commenced sprinkling, and they thought it wasn’t going to be much of a shower, they kept right on playing, when all of a sudden came the [hail] stones, and the boys put for their tents . . . Queer weather here!’”
July 4: “Some of the officers played baseball and drill was neglected.”
Alfred S. Roe, The Twenty-Fourth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, 1861-1866 (Twenty-Fourth Veteran Association, Worcester, 1907), pages 112 and 135. Accessed on Google books 6/2/09 via “twenty-fourth regiment” search. The regiment’s officers were mostly from Boston. The regiment, organized at Readville, 10 miles SW of Boston, and was at Seabrook Island SC on these dates.
1862.68 Christmas Day on Hilton Head
"The New South" a union army newspaper, Dec. 27, 1862 reports on a Dec. 25th game at Hilton Head between the Van Brunt and Frazer base ball clubs. James L. Frazer was colonel of the 47th NY and George B. Van Brunt was then major of the 47th. The 47th was raised in NYC and Brooklyn.
A Charles Van Brunt had headed an early New Jersey team.
"The New South" Dec. 27, 1862
1862.70 Drummers defeat Fifers on Hilton Head
The Manchester Daily Mirror, Dec. 20, 1862 reports that "Base ball is the favorite amusement at Hilton Head just at present" and notes a game among the 3rd New Hampshire Infantry in which Galvin's Drum Corps nine defeated Davis' Fifers nine 30-27.
The Manchester Daily Mirror, Dec. 20, 1862
1862.75 Confederates Play Ball at Fort Sumter
The Charleston Courier, July 29, 1862, reports on the Confederate army garrison at Fort Sumter: "On the dismissal of the parade, the soldiers entered with zeal into an animated ball play."
The Charleston Courier, July 29, 1862
1863.9 In Coastal SC: Union Men Played Ball “In Almost Every Camp”
The US had captured the Sea Island area of SC in 1861, and a group of anti-slavery advocates from Massachusetts ventured south to help educate former slaves in the region. In a letter home from “H.W.,” described as the sister of a Harvard man just out of college, wrote about seeing, on March 3, 1863, what she called “real war camps.” She listed daily work duties, and added, “in almost every camp we saw some men playing ball.” It appears the trip’s objective was “the 24th,” which seems to have been the 24th MA, where a cousin James was to be found.
Elizabeth Ware Pearson, Letters from Port Royal Written at the Time of the Civil War (W. B. Clarke, Boston, 1906), page 162. Accessed 6/7/09 on Google Books via “from port royal” search. Port Royal is about 15 miles north of Holton Head SC and about 40 miles NE of Savannah GA.
Note: can we determine what Union Army units were deployed to Port Royal and the Sea Islands in early 1863?
1863.71 Ball Playing a "Favorite Amusement"
The Middletown (NY) Whig Press, April 8, 1863 prints a letter from a soldier in the "Tenth Legion" (56th NY) datelined St. Helena Island [near Port Royal], March 21, 1863: "Ball playing is a favorite amusement with them. They, however, are tired of inactivity, and long for a chance to meet the foe."
The Middletown (NY) Whig Press, April 8, 1863
1863.80 New Years Day on Hilton Head
"The New South" Jan. 3, 1863 reports a game on New Years Day among Major Van Brunt's provost guard. He was major of the 47th New York.
"The New South" Jan. 3, 1863
1864.22 Union POWs in SC Given “Plot of Ground Where They Could Play Ball”
“Vegetable and market wagons were allowed to visit them every morning; a pint of rice, a slice of bacon, and usually a small loaf of bread, with some salt, were allowed them as a daily ration; and a plot of ground where they could play ball and exercise themselves was set apart for their use.”
H. E. Tremain, Two Days of War (Bonnell, Silver and Bowers, New York, 1905), page 218. Accessed 6/20/09 on Google Books via “two days of war” search. Tremain is apparently here describing the improved conditions that ensued after the Union troops threatened to treat rebel prisoners cruelly if inhumane treatment of Union prisoners continued. The location was Charleston SC, which was under bombardment in August 1864.
1864.79 Ball Playing in Black Regiment
Reid (ed.), "Practicing Medicine in a Black Regiment: The Civil War Diary of Burt G. Wilder," p. 147 (Nov. 24, 1864 entry): "This afternoon was a grand parade and then a review by Col. Kozlay; then we played ball till dark."
Wilder's 55th Massachusetts was stationed near Beaufort, SC at the time.
Reid (ed.), "Practicing Medicine in a Black Regiment: The Civil War Diary of Burt G. Wilder," p. 147
1865.34 Sherman's army plays base-ball in SC
The Madison State Journal, Feb. 28, 1865 prints a letter from a soldier in the 22nd WI, dated Feb. 1, 1865, Robertsville, SC, which claims: "For the first time in an month, large numbers of men are engaged in the sports of school-boy days--the running leap, the wrestle and the base ball."
The Madison State Journal, Feb. 28, 1865