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- 1 1857.36 English Residents of Richmond, VA Try Unsuccessfully to Form A Cricket Club, Then Try Base Ball
- 2 1861.28 2nd NJ Forms “Excelsior Base Ball Club”
- 3 1861.48 Too Cold for Baseball in Confederate Camp
- 4 1862.14 22nd MA beats 13th NY in the Massachusetts Game
- 5 1862.16 13th Massachusetts Plays Ball Near Officers, Dignitaries, Enemy Lines
- 6 1862.23 Soldiers' Christmas in Virginia - Ballplaying "on Many a Hillside"
- 7 1862.31 Officer’s Wife Reports on an Evening at Camp with 16th NY Regiment
- 8 1862.36 CT Boys Play Ball on March to Fredericksburg
- 9 1862.51 4th NY and 13th NY Play Base Ball in VA
- 10 1863.91 Confederate soldiers play ball near Fredericksburg
- 11 1863.92 Alabama soldiers play ball near Fredericksburg
- 12 1865.29 Ballplaying at Appomattox surrender?
- 13 1865.39 Al Pratt learns baseball in the army
1857.36 English Residents of Richmond, VA Try Unsuccessfully to Form A Cricket Club, Then Try Base Ball
[A] The Richmond Whig, April 10, 1857, prints a letter to the editor saying: "Cricket... efforts are being made, by several admirers of the game, to organized a club in this city..." The letter is signed by "English readers" of the newspaper.
[B] "Base Ball at Richmond, Va.-- The failure of the Cricket Club last summer has in no wise disheartened some of the members, who, feeling the necessity of out-door exercise, are now busily at work endeavoring to get up a base ball club for the present season."
[A] The Richmond Whig, April 10, 1857
[B] The Spirit of the Times, June 12, 1858
1861.28 2nd NJ Forms “Excelsior Base Ball Club”
Members of the 2nd New Jersey regiment formed the Excelsior club, evidently named for the Newark Excelsior [confirm existence?] in late November 1861. A report of an intramural game between Golder’s side and Collins’ side appeared in a Newark paper. The game, won 33-20 by the Golder contingent, lasted 6 innings and took four hours to play. The correspondent concludes: “The day passed off pleasantly all around, and I think every one of us enjoyed ourselves duely [sic?]. We all hope to be at home one year hence to dine with those who love us. God grant it!”
One may infer that the 2nd NJ remained at winter quarters in Alexandria VA at this time, providing protection to Washington. Facsimile submitted by John Zinn, 3/10/09. Source: Newark Daily Advertiser, 12/4/1861.
1861.48 Too Cold for Baseball in Confederate Camp
The Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, Dec. 3, 1861 prints a Nov. 24, 1861 letter from a soldier in the 8th GA Infantry: "Up to a week ago ball playing was quite in vogue, but it is now a little too cold for this kind of recreation..."
The letter is datelined camp of the 8th GA, near Centreville [near Manassas, VA]. The letter writer was probably Moses Dwinnell (1825-87), an officer in the 8th who had been prewar editor of the Rome Courier.
The Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, Dec. 3, 1861
1862.14 22nd MA beats 13th NY in the Massachusetts Game
"Fast Day (at home) April 3, there was no drill, and twelve of our enlisted men challenged an equal number from the Thirteenth New York, to a game of base-ball, Massachusetts game. We beat the New-Yorkers, 34 to 10."
J. L. Parker and R. G. Carter, History of the Twenty-Second Massachusetts Infantry (The Regimental Association, Boston, 1887), pages 79-80.
Fast Day in MA was traditionally associated with ballplaying. The 22nd MA, organized in Lynnfield MA (about 15 miles N of Boston), was camped at Falmouth VA in April, as was the 13th NY. The 13th was from Rochester and would likely have known the old-fashioned game. PBall file: CW-126.
1862.16 13th Massachusetts Plays Ball Near Officers, Dignitaries, Enemy Lines
"In the afternoons, after battalion drill, the game of base-ball daily occupied the attention of the boys. On one of these occasions, General Hartsuff riding by, got off his horse and requested permission to catch behind the bat, informing us there was nothing he enjoyed so much. He gave it up after a few minutes and rode away, having made a very pleasant impression."
Davis also mentions a game of ball being played in April 1863 as large numbers of troops were awaiting a formal review by President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton near the Potomac River, "to the no small amusement of the lookers-on" [page 198]. In November 1863, still in Virginia, Davis reports that while awaiting an order to attack a nearby Confederate force, "Time dragged along, and no movement was made. We were all tired of the inaction and the heavy strain on the mind from hours of expectation, and so we had a game of ball to pass away the time. Occasionally the ball would be batted over the crest of the hill in front, in range of the rebel skirmishers, necessitating some one going after it. It was a risky piece of business and required quick work, but it was got every time." [page 288.]
In March 1864, the 13th played the 104th NY and won 62-20. "As opportunities for indulging our love for this pastime were not very frequent, we got a deal of pleasure out of it." [page 309.] Later that month, the regiment celebrated the escape and return the colonel of the 16th Maine with base-ball, along with chasing greased pigs and a sack race. [Page 313.]
Charles E. Davis, Jr., Three Years in the Army: The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers (Estes and Lauriat, Boston MA, 1894), page 56. The full text was accessed on 6/1/09 on Google books via a search for "'Charles E. Davis' three". PBall file: CW20.
Also cited in Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray (Princeton U, 2003), page 41.
The first entry is dated May 6, 1862, when the regiment was in the vicinity of Warrenton VA. There is no further detail on the version of base ball that was played.
1862.23 Soldiers' Christmas in Virginia - Ballplaying "on Many a Hillside"
A correspondent near Fredericksburg VA told Philadelphia readers about "orders from head-quarters that Christmas day should be observed as a day or recreation. The men gladly availed themselves of this privilege, and on many a hill-side might be seen parties playing at ball, or busy at work dragging Christmas-trees to the quarters . . . ."
The article also reported that "Brown cricket jackets are now issued to the men instead of the brown blouses formerly issued. These jackets make a very comfortable garment . . . but they are very unmilitary-looking."
"Christmas in the Army," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 29, 1862. Accessed via Genealogybank, 5/21/09. PBall file CW-31.
was a PA regiment involved?
1862.31 Officer’s Wife Reports on an Evening at Camp with 16th NY Regiment
“The evening parade was an uncommonly nice one . . . . The new colors were all brought out and the effect was very pretty, as they were escorted out and back and saluted by all the officers and me. After parade came a game of base-ball for the captains and other officers, and in the sweet evening air and early moonlight we heard cheerful sounds all about us at the men sang patriotic songs, laughed and chatted, or danced jig to the sound of a violin.”
Eliza Howland, “Diary of Eliza Newton Woolsey Howland, April 1862, in Letters of a Family During the War for the Union 1861-1865 [Pubr? Date?] Volume 1, page 360. Eliza Howland’s husband Joseph was an officer with the 16th New York Volunteers. The couple lived in Mattawan NY before the War. Provided by Jeff Kittell, 5/12/09. Available online at The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries Database, at http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com/. Note: can we determine the location of the event?
Per p. 284 of the Howland book, this took place April 3, 1862, in the camp of Slocum's division, near Fairfax, VA. [ba]
1862.36 CT Boys Play Ball on March to Fredericksburg
On a lay day during a long October 1862 march from Harper’s Ferry WV toward Fredericksburg VA, the 21st CT “indulged the natural propensity of the soldier for foraging.” To thwart that, the Captain “ordered the roll to be called every hour, so that it was difficult to get far from camp. The boys enjoyed a game of baseball, notwithstanding the march of the day before, and the prospect of a longer march the next day.” This is the only reference to ballplaying in the history.
The Story of the Twenty-First Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, During the Civil War. 1861-1865 (Stewart Printing Co., Middletown, 1900). Accessed on Google books 6/2/09, via “story of the twenty-first” search. The regiment was recruited in Eastern CT in late summer 1862, with the most men enlisting from Groton and Hartford.
1862.51 4th NY and 13th NY Play Base Ball in VA
Over five years after the fact, the Ball Players’ Chronicle evidently dug up an old CW letter and published it:
“Camp Crooke, July 20th 1862. We had a good afternoon’s sport here yesterday. The selected nine of the 4th N. Y. V. came to our camp, confident of victory, to play us a game of base ball. . . . They played a very strong game and had a tip-top pitcher and catcher, but they were outbatted , our boys doing some tall things in that line. Lieut. Fuller treated them handsomely, and they departed in good spirits, though feeling a little sore at their defeat, having hitherto beaten every other nine they have played against.” A box score of the regulation 16-11 game was included. The article also reports on an earlier match between the 13th’s right wing and left wing, and a shorter impromptu contest between the staff officers and line officers of the 13th, “the latter [game] was a rich match, full of all the attractive features of muffinism.”
“Base Ball Reminiscences,” The Ball Players’ Chronicle, November 28, 1867. From the Giamatti Research Center at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Civil War folder, accessed June 2009. The 13th was evidently a three-month regiment that mustered out in September 1862. The 4th was from New York City.
1863.91 Confederate soldiers play ball near Fredericksburg
The Augusta Constitutionalist, Feb. 8, 1863, reprints a column by "Personne," the Charleston Courier's war correspondent, Jan. 29, 1863, under the heading "Interesting Letter from Virginia." "The amusements of the army are rational and generous. Ball playing is a common game when the weather is pleasant..."
The letter was from Lee's army, then in camp near Fredericksburg, and mentions Jenkins' SC brigade. This confirms Union reports at this time of seeing Lee's soldiers playing ball.
The Augusta Constitutionalist, Feb. 8, 1863
1863.92 Alabama soldiers play ball near Fredericksburg
The Greensboro (AL) Beacon, March 287, 1863, prints a letter from the 5th Alabama, camped near Fredericksburg, March 8, 1863: "Since coming off picket the only amusement in camp is ball playing, which serves to while away the lonely hours."
The Greensboro (AL) Beacon, March 287, 1863
1865.29 Ballplaying at Appomattox surrender?
There's long been a story that when Robert E. Lee's Confederate army surrendered at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, the Union victors played baseball games with the Confederate POWs. According to Pat Schroeder, who works for the NPS at Appomattox, that is not true--the Union and Confederate soldiers did indeed play baseball that week, but they played in their own camps, not against each other.
1865.39 Al Pratt learns baseball in the army
Noted ballplayer and manager Al Pratt was interviewed in 1895. Pratt stated "Yes, it is true.... that I learned to play ball while in the army." Pratt notes he served in the 61st PA Infantry and was present at the siege of Petersburg.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 17, 1895.