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51st Pennsylvania Plays Ball 1862-1864 in VA, KY, MD, Sometimes Daily.
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The regimental history has four references to ballplaying. In July 1862, the unit arrived at Camp Lincoln at Newport News VA, where “the amusements at this camp were fishing for crabs, bathing, foraging and base-ball playing” [page 187]. Back at Newport News in March 1863, “the officers and men enjoyed themselves much in the innocent games of cricket and base-ball.” [page 290]. In May 1863, at a temporary camp near Somerset KY, “both officers and men enjoyed themselves hugely by playing at base ball in daytime between drill hours and at night by the performance of genuine negro minstrels, who were the field hands belonging to the neighboring plantations” [page 301]. Waiting in Annapolis for expected deployment to North Carolina in April 1864, “[b]ase ball is enjoyed by a large number of officers and men every afternoon, when the weather permits, and, I assure you, some very creditable playing is done – some that would do honor to any base ball club extant. [page 539].
Thomas H. Parker, History of the 51st Regiment of PV [Pennsylvania Volunteers] (King and Baird, Philadelphia, 1869). Accessed 6/2/09 on Google books via “’51st regiment’ parker” search. The regiment formed in Harrisburg in late 1861.
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