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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Baseball in Civil War Nashville

Pastime of War

 
 
Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Darren Jefferson Clay, November 21, 2020
1. Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker
Inscription.  In the spring of 1862, Nashville became the first Confederate state capital to fall to Union forces. As the Union army took control, it established camps around the State Capitol building, including in this area, one of the most historic places in Nashville. It was called French Lick in the 1700s, Sulphur Spring Bottom in the 1800s, and Sulphur Dell in the 1900s. During the Civil War, it served as a recreational field for Union soldiers. These men, in turn, introduced the northern version of baseball to local residents as early as 1862. The sport was new to Nashville; the first games were played in 1860.

At the time of the war, baseball was a far different game than the one we know today. The ball was softer; outfielders and even some infielders played without gloves. A runner was out when he was hit by a thrown or batted ball, or if a fielder caught the ball in the air or on a bounce. Scores were almost always in the double digits—sometimes more than 60 runs scored. Home runs were called aces.

Union officers encouraged baseball games among their soldiers because they reduced the boredom of camp life and kept the men
Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Darren Jefferson Clay, November 21, 2020
2. Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker
in a competitive spirit. After the fighting ended in 1865, Union troops continued to occupy the city.

Baseball still was played in this part of Nashville. Teams like Burns and Flynn competed here in September 1866. Four years later, this place became known as Athletic Park, and baseball continued to be played here until the final season of the Nashville Vols in 1963.

(captions)
Union prisoners of war playing baseball, 1863 — Courtesy Library of Congress

Tennessee State Capitol, 1860s, with this site in the foreground — Courtesy Tennessee State Library & Archives
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: SportsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 36° 10.217′ N, 86° 47.23′ W. Marker is in Nashville, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker can be reached from 7th Avenue North north of Harrison Street, on the left when traveling south. Located in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 600 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville TN 37243, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hell’s Half Acre (approx. 0.2 miles away); Germantown Historic District
Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Darren Jefferson Clay, November 21, 2020
3. Baseball in Civil War Nashville Marker
(approx. ¼ mile away); Tomb of James Knox Polk (approx. 0.3 miles away); Holy Rosary Cathedral (approx. 0.3 miles away); Founding of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (approx. 0.3 miles away); Andrew Jackson (approx. 0.3 miles away); Adolphus Heiman (approx. 0.4 miles away); Site of Original Gas Works (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nashville.
 
Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. image. Click for full size.
By Sarony, Major & Knapp, circa 1863
4. Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C.
Library of Congress LC-DIG-pga-02608
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 21, 2020, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 21, 2020, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia.   4. submitted on November 21, 2020, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Dec. 4, 2020