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1861 Civil War Letter with Baseball Content

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1861 Civil War Letter with Baseball Content

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Typifying the content of letters scribed by recruits in the early months of the Civil War is this missive that a Union soldier penned to his brother in late-summer of 1861. We surmise that it was written by a junior officer as its syntax and subtle references suggest a level of responsibility in his assigned unit. Though there’s no mention in the text, we’ve discovered that its author was attached to the 48th New York Volunteer Regiment (of a three-year obligation) which distinguished itself in combat along the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The 48th New York was composed of at least one company that was organized in New Jersey, whence our letter writer originated.

As is evident in our photo, this one is a simple fold-over (measuring about 7-1/2" x 9-1/2" when closed). It’s written primarily on the front and back of the left side, and it then concludes on the right. The medium is acceptably preserved with no staining or tears. Overall, it’s about EX, qualified by non-symmetrical compacting folds.

The most alluring feature in the content is its considerable reference to baseball. The game was, of course, very much embryonic in 1861. And though it served as a recreational diversion in both Union and Confederate camps, standardized rules had not yet taken shape. An "out," for instance, was registered in some games if a fielder actually hit the baserunner with a high-velocity thrown ball – Ouch! For that matter, in some social circles, the game wasn’t called "base ball," but instead, it was called "burn ball." And such is well described in this soldier’s message. In full, the August 2, 1861 letter reads:

"Camp Wyman, Fort Hamilton

Dear brother,

I take this first opportunity since incamped to write home to let you know how I like the army so far. I arrived at Brooklyn Tuesday at 5 o’clock in the morning and proceeded directly to Montague Hall w[h]ere I met with the Col. Perry which I found to be a noble looking fellow indeed. I also met with 5 of the Captains, but have not as yet seen Capt. Knowles. He is sending his men to camp every day. He has sent me a drill master to act until he comes next Monday himself to take charge. We as yet have the best looking set of men in the whole Reg.[iment] and the Col. says we will have, as our company is wholy Jerseyman [sic wholly Jerseymen]. The day I arrived I helped pitch the first tent of the Continental Guards which will hold about one hundred, the main tent. We expect to have about one hundred tents of a small size to hold about 15 men. We get plenty to eat, good fried beef, and other things, plenty for any Jersey man. We will be sworn in tomorrow or Monday and then we will get our suits [uniforms] and our pay (garbled) immediately. I will send my clothes home by some of the May’s Landing vessels. We are incamped at Fort Hamilton about 9 miles below Brooklyn close to the New York bay where we go in bathing every evening. Their [There] will be about 500 in camp by tomorrow. We are to have preaching on Sunday. Our Reg. will be filled up in a few days. I do not know yet when we will go to Washington. We drill about 6 hours a day. We have plenty exercise in different ways. Yesterday we was [were] playing ball 6 on a side, all good players. Their [sic] was but one man hit. He was running across the lower bases [3rd-to-home?] and I was throwing [the] ball. So I caught the knocker out and throwed [sic] the ball at him. It hit him on the head and knocked him down on the spot. His head swelled awful. The Capt. said I was a good shot as it was about 45 yards off. About 200 laughing at him

Ball  Baseball

Auction End: 06-Oct-08  Post Views: 5696

300  Price; $0.00 – $0.00




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