Base Ball. - There will be an interesting game of Base Ball during the afternoon of the 4th, on the grounds of the Commercial Club, in Lafayette Park. We understand the game is to be composed of representatives from the various Clubs of the city, and will undoubtedly be an exciting one.
-Missouri Republican, July 3, 1863
John Adams said that the anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence ought to be forever celebrated by all sorts of joyous demonstrations. But, for some reason, the inclination to follow this advice has wonderfully lessened within a year or two. This year we see scarcely any signs in any quarter of preparations to celebrate the day. Such apathy it would no doubt be wrong to explain, upon the supposition that our people are less alive than heretofore to the political benefits of the separation from England, or are beginning to question the right our fathers claimed to set up government for themselves. The interference and preoccupations of a war which involves so many horrors and weighs on so many hearts may well account for it. Let us hope that the incubus will soon be removed. and that as heretofore so forever thereafter, a great and glorious country, uniting North and South in the ties of a true fraternal union, will on each return of this day commemorate the act which makes it illustrious, and thereby do honor to the virtues of our ancestry, whose fame is the common property of both sections of the country.
-Missouri Republican, July 4, 1863
Reported Surrender Of Vicksburg
-Missouri Republican, July 4, 1863
Washington, July 4 - 10 A.M.
The following has just been received:
Headqr's Army Potomac,
July 3 - 8:30 P.M.
To Major General Halleck:
The enemy opened at 1 P.M. from about one hundred and fifty guns concentrated upon my left, continuing without intermission for about three hours, at the expiration of which time he assulted my left and center twice, being upon both occasions handsomely repulsed with severe loss to him, leaving in our hands nearly three thousand prisoners.
Among the prisoners were Brig. Gen. Armistead and many Colonels and officers of lesser rank.
The enemy left many dead upon the field, and a large number of wounded in our hands.
The loss upon our side has been considerable.
Maj. Gen. Hancock and Brig. Gen. Gibbon were wounded.
After the repelling of the assault, indications leading to the belief that the enemy might be withdrawing, an armed reconnoissance was pushed forward from the left, and the enemy found to be in force. At the present hour all is quiet. My cavalry have been engaged all day on both flanks of the enemy, harassing and vigorously attacking him, with great success, notwithstanding they encountered superior numbers, both of cavalry and infantry. The army is in fine spirits.
Geo. G. Meade.
Major General Commanding.
Washington, July 4 - 10 A.M.
...He whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered and reverenced with the profoundest gratitude.
It seems to be my Fourth of July tradition to run the July 3, 1863 squib from the Republican and marvel at the idea that a baseball game was played in St. Louis on July 4, 1863. That day was significant, of course, because it was the day that Vicksburg fell and it was the day after the Union victory at Gettysburg. The Union had much to celebrate that day. Two days earlier, the outcome of the Civil War was still in doubt. But, by the Fourth of July, 1863, as St. Louis celebrated the holiday by watching a baseball game in Lafayette Park, the war had reached its turning point and the Union would move surely, although slowly and with great cost, onward to victory.
The other day, when writing about a game played on the Fourth of July in 1861, I stated that I found it difficult to understand the people from this era. Specifically, I was talking about how I found it almost impossible to understand how they felt about the war and dealt with it on a day-to-day basis. While that's certainly true, the one thing that makes it easier for me to understand them is their love of baseball. As someone who also loves the game, this common bond provides an entryway for me into their world and a way to somehow begin to understand their lives.
I have no idea what it's like to feel so strongly about something that I'm willing to fight and kill my fellow countrymen but I understand what it's like to love baseball. I simply have never been able to understand why Edward Bredell, after being taken prisoner at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, went on to join up with John Mosby. But I do understand what motivated him to form the Cyclone Club with Merritt Griswold. It's frustrating, sometimes, when I realize that I only understand these men in part and will probably never be able to understand them in whole. But, because of our mutual love of the game, I feel an affinity for all of these guys - Union and Confederate alike.
When I first posted the July 3, 1863 squib, I wrote the following and I think it does a good job of putting all of this in context:
What continues to amaze me about baseball in St. Louis during the Civil War is that these great and terrible events transpire in parallel to the commonplace. It's things like this game taking place the day after Pickett's Charge and the day of the fall of Vicksburg. It's the Empire Club having to postpone their anniversary game in 1865 because of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It's a game being played in St. Louis the day Stonewall Jackson died. You study the Civil War and read the histories and spend decades of your life trying to learn about and understand the events of the era but it's almost impossible to understand what life was truly like for the people who lived through it. You can read the diaries and memoirs and still never come close to understanding what life was like during the Civil War.
For me, that's why the study of 19th century baseball is so important. It's the common, everyday stuff of life that we can all relate to and understand. We use baseball, something that we love and understand, as a conduit into the lives of people that are so far removed from us. Baseball is the common ground and the common language that we can use to try, just a bit, to understand what life was like in 1863. We really can't understand what people felt upon hearing the news about Gettysburg and Vicksburg but I know what it's like to play in a baseball game on the Fourth of July. I know what it's like to watch a game on the Fourth. And in that sense, I can put myself in the place of the people who played in and watched the game at Lafayette Park on July 4, 1863. In that sense, I can get a bit closer in understanding what their life was like.
May God bless the United States of America.