Baseball Bat-Period Reproduction
Are you looking for something to wile away the time while you're at camp during Winter Encampment or in-between battles? If so, look no further. Our bat is an extremely high quality reproduction of the baseball bat used during the mid-1800s (unless you use a rail tie like President Lincoln).
As per the 1860 Beadle's Rules: "Sec. 2.- The bat must be round, and must not exceed two and a half inches in diameter in the thickest part. It must be made of wood, and may be of any length to suit the striker."
Depending on who you talk to, Abner Doubleday did or didn’t invent
baseball in 1839. He did fire the first Northern shot of the Civil War
and commanded the 1st Corp at the Battle of Gettysburg after Lancaster,
PA General John Reynolds was killed at the beginning of the battle. Some
people credit the creation of baseball to Alexander Cartwright in 1845
when he refined the rules and created the New York Knickerbockers
baseball Club and had the first recorded game in 1846. This was the same
year Walt Whitman wrote, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our
game, the American game”.
1861 at the start of the war, an amateur team made up of members of the
71st New York Regiment defeated the Washington Nationals baseball club
by a score of 41 to 13. When the 71st New York later returned to the man
the defenses of Washington in 1862, the teams played a rematch, which
the Nationals won 28 to 13. Unfortunately, the victory came in part
because some of the 71st's best athletes had been killed at Bull Run
only weeks after their first game. One of the biggest attended sporting
events of the nineteenth century occurred on Christmas in 1862 when the
165th New York Volunteer Regiment (Zouaves) played at Hilton Head, South
Carolina with more than 40,000 troops looking on. The Zouaves' opponent
was a team composed of men selected from other Union regiments.
Interestingly, A.G. Mills, who would later become the president of the
National League, participated in the game.
The President, Abraham Lincoln,
learned and loved the game prior to his election campaign in 1860. A
popular newspaper even published a political cartoon showing him batting
against his opponents in his campaign. During the Civil war he even had
a baseball field constructed on the White House lawn. There are stories
such as he was late for a war council meeting and said, "They will just
have to wait. It is almost my turn at bat".
The Civil War did something unique. Rather than minimizing a sport,
it expanded baseball and set up a scenario that would make the game
explode throughout the country and quickly make it a professional
business. Remember, just prior to the war baseball was fairly confined
to the New York and surrounding area. During the war there were long
periods of encampments waiting for the next battle. Soldiers drilled and
drilled and became bored resulting in low morale. The New Yorkers
started teaching their comrades from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and other northern states the game of
baseball. They loved it and played as often as they could. Generals
actually sent reports saying promote baseball activities in your camps.
It promotes good health and keeps the mind off of the war. It is good if
all ranks play together. Every encampment and most of the Companies had
their own one piece baseball pattern. They would get a walnut and start
wrapping it with yarn until the cut horsehide would fit around it
tightly. Then they would sew it up and have their baseball for the
games. Oak limbs were cut and carved for bats. If your company was
lucky, professionally made bats from Cooperstown, NY were shipped with
your supplies. Gloves were not used until the 20th century.
So how did the southern soldiers learn the game of baseball? Well,
there were 160 prisoner of war camps. Not all of them presented the
horrors of Elmira and Andersonville. Many prisoners learned and played
the game in prison. It became popular to have games between Northern and
Southern teams and the games were very competitive. The game was so
loved it even expanded to the battlefront. George Putman, a Union
soldier fighting in Texas wrote home saying, “We were playing baseball
near the front lines after a break in our skirmish. Suddenly there was a
scattering of fire, which three outfielders caught the brunt: the
centerfielder was hit and captured. The left and right field managed to
get back to our lines. The attack was repelled, but we had not only lost
our centerfielder, but the only ball we had in Alexander, Texas"