Pioneer Pic Nic. - One of the most pleasant parties of the season, came off yesterday afternoon, at the residence of D. Morse, Esq., Foreman of the Pioneer Fire Company of [Springfield, Illinois.] At about 1 o'clock the company and invited guests, preceded by a band of music, marched to the residence of Mr. Morse. A portion of the afternoon was spent by the members of the company in playing a game of "base ball" in a beautiful lot adjoining the premises of Mr. Morse. The bright uniform of the company presented a fine contrast to the green fields and foliage of the trees, giving the whole scene the air of a military review. After enjoying the pastime for a few hours, they proceeded to the residence of Mr. Morse, where the presentation of a beautiful gold watch and chain, the gift of the company, was made to Mrs. Morse.
-Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, Illinois), May 28, 1863
Now, as usual, we don't know exactly what game was being played and there is no evidence in the source to lead us to think that this was the New York game. It just doesn't give us enough information. My general thinking is that it was possible that the New York game spread out of St. Louis and Chicago and was being played in Central Illinois during the war years but we have no evidence of that happening. It is much more likely that the New York game didn't reach the area until the war ended and the smaller towns of Illinois didn't get their first clubs until 1866-1868 period.
But we do know that there was a baseball-playing culture in Central Illinois that went back to the settlement of the area. It doesn't matter whether the game was called town ball or long ball or base ball or whatever - the folks in the Sangamon River Valley liked to play ball games. This piece is just more evidence of that.