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- 1 1862.17 Ballplaying Frequently Played at Salisbury Prison in North Carolina
- 2 1863.4 MA Regiment Organizes a Baseball Club
- 3 1863.83 Bay Staters play ball in NC
- 4 1863.115 SC soldier writes of chuck a luck and town ball in camp
- 5 1865.2 Illinois Soldier Plays Wicket Near War’s End
- 6 1865.27 First Organized Base Ball Game in NC?
- 7 1865.35 Indiana Regiment plays Town Ball in NC
1862.17 Ballplaying Frequently Played at Salisbury Prison in North Carolina
Beginning in 1862, prisoners' diary accounts refer to a number of base ball games [by New York rules; Millen infers that games occurred "almost daily"] at Salisbury prison in NC. Charles Gray, a Union doctor who arrived at Salisbury in May 1862, reported ball playing "for those who like it and are able." RI soldier William Crossley in a May 21, 1862 diary entry described a "great game of baseball" between prisoners transferred from New Orleans and Tuscaloosa AL, which brought "as much enjoyment to the Rebs as to the Yanks, for they came in hundreds to see the sport..."
[A] In an unattributed and undated passage, Josephus Clarkson, a prisoner from Boston "recalled in his diary that one of the Union solders wandered over and picked up a pine branch that had dropped on the ground. Another soldier wrapped a stone in a couple of woolen socks and tied the bundle with a string. The soldiers started a baseball game of sorts, although there was much argument over whether to use Town Ball rules or play like New Yorkers. 'To put a man out by Town Ball rules you could plug him as he ran,' wrote Clarkson. 'Since many of the men were in a weakened condition, it was agreed to play the faster but less harsh New York rules, which intrigued our guards. The game of baseball had been played much in the South, but many of them [the guards] had never seen the sport devised by Mr. Cartwright. Eventually they found proper bats for us to play with and we fashioned a ball that was soft and a great bounders.'" According to Clarkson, a pitcher from Texas was banished from playing in a guards/captives game after "badly laming" several prisoners. "By and large," he said, "baseball was quite a popular pastime of troops on both sides, as a means of relaxing before and after battles."
[B] Otto Boetticher, a commercial artist before the war, was imprisoned at Salisbury for part of 1862 and drew a picture of a ball game in progress at the prison that was published in color in 1863. A fine reproduction appears in Ward and Burns.
[C] Adolphus Magnum, A visiting Confederate chaplain, noted in 1862 that "a number of the younger and less dignified [Union officers] ran like schoolboys to the playing ground and were soon joining In high glee in a game of ball."
[D] An extended account of ballplaying at Salisbury, along with the Boetticher drawing, are found in From Pastime to Passion. It draws heavily on Jim Sumner, "Baseball at Salisbury Prison Camp," Baseball History (Meckler, Westport CT, 1989). Similar but unattributed coverage is found in Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray (Princeton U, 2003), pp 43-45. PBall file: CW21.
[E] See also Giles W. Shurtleff account of prison life in the history of the Seventh Ohio, p. 324. Shurtleff had played while at Oberlin College. See also The Congregationalist, May 4, 1864.
[A] Wells Twombley, 200 Years of Sport in America (McGraw-Hill, 1976), page 71.
[B] Ward and Burns, Baseball Illustrated, at pages 10-11.
[D] Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), pp.27-31.
[E] Patricia Millen, "The POW Game-- Captive Union Soldiers Play a Baseball Game at Salisbury, NC", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 36-38
William Crossley, "Extracts from My Diary" p. 43.
It would be desirable to locate and inspect the Josephus Clarkson diary used in Twombley [A, above.]. Clarkson, described as a ship's chandler before the war, does not yield to Google or Genealogy bank as of 6/6/2009 or 4/3/2013. John Thorn's repeated searches have also come up empty. Particularly questionable is Clarkson's very early identification of Cartwright as an originator of the NY game.
1863.4 MA Regiment Organizes a Baseball Club
“Not even regular guard and fatigue duty, drill and digging in the trenches could exhaust all of the energies of thee Massachusetts boys, so they must needs organize a baseball club, a thing they had never done in the month of January, and company rivalry ran high. The nine from Company I beat that of Company C to the tune of fifty to twenty-nine. It goes without saying that this was in the days of old-fashioned ball, when large scores were not unusual, and a phenomenally small one by no means argued a superior game.”
Alfred S. Roe, The Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Fifth Regiment Veteran Association, Boston, 1911) page 196 The book has no other reference to ballplaying. This passage appears in an account of late January 1863, and the camp was evidently near Newbern VA [a railroad terminus], about 45 miles SW of Roanoke in Southwest Virginia. Accessed at Google Books 6/609 via “fifth Massachusetts roe” search. The regiment comprised men from towns NW of Boston.
The unit was at New Bern, NC in January 1863. [ba]
1863.83 Bay Staters play ball in NC
The Boston Traveler, March 4, 1863 prints a letter from Camp Stevenson, NC, datelined 2-27-63: "the boys enjoy their spare time to a great extent, in base ball, foot ball and other healthy amusements; great rivalry has commenced between the companies as to their respective merits in base ball, and friendly games for the superiority are constantly taking place." The 44th and 25th MA are to play tomorrow, and "great interest is manifested by both regiments as to the result."
This game is mentioned in the wartime diary of John J,. Wyeth of the 44th MA, who may be the writer of the above letter.
Camp Stevenson was at New Bern, NC.
The Boston Traveler, March 4, 1863
1863.115 SC soldier writes of chuck a luck and town ball in camp
McConnell diary, U. of South Carolina
The Yorkville (SC) Enquirer, Feb. 4, 1863 prints a letter from a soldier of the 17th SC from Camp Kershaw, near Kinston, which relates the soldiers in camp are playing "the sports sof boyhood in games of "Prison ball," "Bull pen," etc."
1865.2 Illinois Soldier Plays Wicket Near War’s End
“Washington March 29 65. . . . Put up fence round our Q’rs played wicket ball Evening bought cigars and smoked.” “Monday Apr. 3rd Lost and found my Pocket Book Played Wicket Traded watches.” “Tuesday Apr. 4th Played ball.”
Milo Deering Dailey, Civil War Diary of 1865. Accessed 6/22/09 by Google Web search: “’milo deering dailey.’” The diary covers February through-June 1865. Dailey was with the 112th Illinois, which was organized in Peoria IL. The regiment was in North Carolina in early April, closing on Raleigh from the east. Washington NC is about 95 miles E of Raleigh.
1865.27 First Organized Base Ball Game in NC?
The New York Clipper, April 29, 1865 gives the box score of a game played near Goldsboro, NC on April 5th, between the drum corps and the privates of the 102nd NY Infantry, Sherman's Army, that had recently marched into NC.
Other than play at Salisbury POW camp, this might be the first organized base ball game ever played in the state.
The New York Clipper, April 29, 1865
1865.35 Indiana Regiment plays Town Ball in NC
The Randolph Journal (Winchester, IN), April 6, 1865 prints a letter from a member of the 124th Indiana, near Kinston, NC, dated March 8, 1865: "I saw Lieut. Col. Neff this morning eagerly engaged in a game of town-ball, and exhibiting as much spirit and dash as a young blood of twenty five..."
The Randolph Journal (Winchester, IN), April 6, 1865