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Must-Click Link: Thank God for the Civil War

Aug 29, 2011, 5:40 PM EDT

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Too soon? Maybe it’s too soon.

But can we at least acknowledge that were it not for the Civil War that baseball would have spread across our Great Republic — or perhaps our fractured and ugly two-nation former Republic depending on how things woulda gone — without it?

That’s part of what’s in play in this fascinating look at baseball during the war, particularly in the military encampments around Washington D.C.  Bonus points for the two-word spelling “base ball.”  Extra bonus points for the old newspaper article cited which describes it as a game “calculated to improve the health, while strengthening the mind.”

Good read.

(link via BTF)

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Very very cool read indeed. Thanks for posting, Senor Calcaterra.

  2. natstowngreg - Aug 29, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Yes, definitely too soon. As the nation begins its 4-year long commemoration of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, we always need to be reminded how terrible it was. You are hereby sentenced to watch Ken Burn’s series, in its entirety, without interruption. (Come to think of it, there are a lot worse ways to spend half a day or so).

    So the Nats won their first game. Cool. But from the August 1865 account, looks like they were losing to Philly. No doubt, throngs of obnoxious individuals took the train down from Philly for the occasion.

    • Old Gator - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:54 PM

      Much worse ways. The Burns Civil War documentary was a “how to” manual for all future documentarists. Much as I admire it, though, as a longtime university critical writing instructor, it just kills me to listen to the elegantly written battlefield correspondence of homeschooled farm boys, blacksmiths and rural grocers of a century and a half ago – and compare them to the mangled writing of students fresh out of expensive private and public schools alike. I sometimes feel like I spent as much time undoing the damage inflicted by our secondary education system as Civil War field surgeons spent amputating legs.

      • Old Gator - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:59 PM

        Oh, and while I’m in rant mode, let me also put in a plug for Burns documentary superstar Shelby Foote’s masterful Narrative History of the Civil War. If you don’t have the time or inclination to savor the entire masterpiece, you can relax with the separately published, exquisitely beautiful Gettysburg section, The Stars in their Courses. ( It will probably make you want to read the entire extended work.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 30, 2011 at 8:14 AM

        Civil war history is probably the most intriguing of all US history. A tour of the town of Gettysburg is an all day, awe inspiring trip. I recommend it to everyone. Gator, you should see my hand carved cane made by a Northern soldier, covered from top to bottom with all of the corps badges of the Northern Army painted correctly, with what looks to be a “34 star round” US flag carved into it with gold leaf stars. It’s a fine piece of hand made folk art from the 1860’s.

  3. tuftsb - Aug 29, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    I don’t see any mention of Private Julio Franco playing….

    • bcopus - Aug 29, 2011 at 8:27 PM

      He was coaching 3rd base, and was listed on the stat card as 42. Everybody thought he was lying, because they were pretty sure the card said 42 the year before as well.

  4. paul621 - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Bcopus: your comment has me wishing for a thumbs-up feature on the HBT iPhone app. In the spirit of things, I’ll just say “huzzah!” instead. That sounds all 19th-century-y I suppose.

  5. deep64blue - Aug 30, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    “But can we at least acknowledge that were it not for the Civil War that baseball would have spread across our Great Republic without it?”

    I’ve read that 5 times and it still doesn’t make sense – did your prrof reader have the day off yesterday? :-)

    • deep64blue - Aug 30, 2011 at 5:52 AM

      Oh the irony – but I’m not being paid to do this!!

      I meant proof reader of course!

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