Civil War Baseball Found
Earlier this week, Slate Magazine published the picture you see of a baseball that was found on Civil War Battlegrounds in Shiloh, Tennessee. I found out about it reading this post.
The ball is inscribed, "Picked Up on the Battle Field at Shiloh by G.F. Hellum." Hellum (or Hellem) was an orderly for the Union Army at Shiloh, later enlisting as a soldier with Company B of the 69th Colored Infantry.
The Battle of Shiloh began April 6, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. Confederate soliders, under the direction of Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard launched a surpise attack on the Union army and Major General Ulysses S. Grant on the west bank of the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing. The battle lasted two days and up to that time was the bloodiest battle in American history (nearly 24,000 dead, wounded and missing).
The battle was signifcant for many reasons that I won't list but to highlight its significance, I will point out that it was one of the first five battlefields restored in the 1890's.
What's interesting about the "lemon peel ball" is that it shows us that baseball, whose popularity soared as a result of the war, was actually being enjoyed by many as the war began and waged on.
I really enjoy these kinds of stories and have always been intrigued by the bond between baseball and history. I hope you enjoy it, too.