The game of base ball now so popular in this as in Eastern cities, was ushered in yesterday afternoon, by the Cyclone Base Ball Club, on their old grounds in Lafayette Park, on which occasion they had the pleasure of having united with them in the game, representatives of the Morning Star, Empire and Commercial Clubs. As was the case last season, a jolly time was had, especially when a member in his eager endeavors to catch the ball would step into some sunken hole, (left to ornament the park,) thereby changing his movement into that of the Zouave drill, or more properly speaking, lofty tumbling of a gymnast. But we are happy to say this is soon to be remedied, as the clubs have petitioned the Common Council for the privilege of leveling the same at their own expense, which petition has been referred to the Park commissioners, and only awaits their action, when the improvements will be immediately commenced, provided the Commissioners do not delay the matter until it is too late in the season for starting the grass on places that are to be filled. We notice the Club is composed of the same members as last year, but a slight change has been made in the officers, caused by Mr. M.W. Griswold resigning the Presidency, which is now filled by the promotion of the Vice President, Mr. Leonard Matthews, and the election of Mr. Benteen as Vice President, Mr. M.W. Alexander, Secretary, Mr. F.L. Garesche, Treasurer, and Messrs. Wm. Matthews, J. Riggin, Jr. and E. Bredell, Jr., Trustees. The Cyclones play every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon.
-Missouri Republican, March 7, 1861
Mentioned in the article are the two founders of the Cyclone Club, Edward Bredell, Jr., and Merritt Griswold, and I think it's appropriate to begin the story of St. Louis baseball during the Civil War with those two gentlemen. Bredell and Griswold - friends, co-workers, and clubmates - symbolize what this story is all about. They were baseball pioneers and co-founded what was most likely the first baseball club in St. Louis that played according to the rules of the National Association. They helped to establish and grow the game in St. Louis and there are very few men involved in 19th century St. Louis baseball more significant than Bredell and Griswold.
While they are linked together in baseball history and shared a common occupation as engineers, they were two very different men. Bredell, who was born in St. Louis in 1839, was the only child of a wealthy family. His father, Edward Bredell, Sr., was an attorney and one of the founders of the firm of Bredell & Bro., one of the first wholesale dry goods houses in St. Louis. Bredell, Sr., also founded and was president of the Missouri Glass Company where his son was the business manager. The Bredel family owned slaves, had strong Southern sympathies, supported the Confederacy, and were in favor of Missouri's succession from the Union. In June of 1862, Bredell would join the Confederate army and he would be killed in action in November of 1864.
While I will certainly be talking about Edward Bredell, his family and his service during the war at some length during the course of this series, one important fact that I'd like to point out right now is that Bredell attended Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1855, 1856 and, possibly, 1857, studying engineering. It is likely that he was exposed to the New York game of baseball while attending Brown University and, upon his return to St. Louis in either 1856 or 1857, was probably one of the few people in the city with direct knowledge of the game. In 1859, Bredell would meet someone who also had a great deal of knowledge about the new game of baseball.
Merritt W. Griswold was born in New York in 1835 and played baseball with the Putnam Club of Brooklyn in 1857 and the Hiawatha Club of Brooklyn in 1858 and 1859. He moved to St. Louis, where his mother had family, in 1859 and, an engineer by trade, found employment with the Missouri Glass Company. The exact date of his arrival in St. Louis and his hiring on at the Missouri Glass Company are unknown but we know that Griswold was playing baseball with the Hiawathas in the spring of 1859 and that the Missouri Glass Company didn't open until late May of that year so it's possible that he didn't get to St. Louis until very late in the spring or early in the summer of 1859.
While living in St. Louis, Griswold served as an officer with the 3rd Regiment of the United States Reserve Corp. While that sounds rather proper, in reality Griswold was a member of a pro-Union militia called the Home Guards that were federalized in 1861, when the war broke out, and was most likely a member of the Wide Awakes, a group which is often described as the paramilitary arm of the Republican party. Griswold, a Yankee by birth, was, without a doubt, a staunch pro-Union Republican. In May of 1861, Griswold's unit was involved in the capture of Camp Jackson, an engagement that helped secure St. Louis for the Union at the beginning of the Civil War.
By July of 1863, Griswold had moved back to New York and I've always believed that one of the reasons he moved back home was because he wanted to escape the chaotic political and military situation in St. Louis and return to a more familiar and normal setting. Pro-Republican and unconditional Unionist sentiment were not particularly popular in St. Louis and I think it's understandable if Griswold wanted to get out of town.
The bottom line is that the Cyclone Base Ball Club of St. Louis was founded by two men who were friends and co-workers. One was the pro-secessionist son of a slave owner who died fighting with the Confederate army. The other was a Yankee and a Republican who fought to keep St. Louis and Missouri in the Union.
Griswold wrote that the Cyclone Club did not long survive the out break of the war and that it disbanded as a direct result of its members going off to fight. By the time of Camp Jackson in May of 1861, the club must have been tearing itself apart, much like Missouri and the country as a whole. And I think we see a little bit of that in the above article, with Griswold resigning the presidency of the club.
As I've stated, Edward Bredell and Merritt Griswold are two of the most significant figures in the history of St. Louis baseball and were pioneers of the game in the city. They are also symbols of the Civil War in St. Louis, a city with divided loyalties. Their friendship, which began in the offices of the Missouri Glass Company and was cemented on the baseball grounds at Lafayette Park, did not survive the outbreak of war.