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Baseball Recovered from a Civil War Battlefield

From April 6-7, 1862, Americans slaughtered one another near a small log church in Tennessee called Shiloh. The nation suffered more casualties those two days than in all previous wars combined. It was a horrible shock to the divided nation--and there were worse to come.

Giles Hellum, an African American employee of the Union army, found this baseball on the field. Slate's Frank Ceresi writes:

During the War Between the States, the game was played on the battlefields and even in wartime prison camps. Baseball was, after all, portable, and even amid the horrors of war, soldiers sometimes found opportunities to play on the vast open fields where they needed only a bat, a ball, and a few willing participants. [...]

The artifact is a “lemon peel ball,” looser and softer than today’s baseballs, and it is hand-stitched in a figure 8 pattern with thick twine. 

Link | Photo: The National Pasttime

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