The attack on Sumter is momentarily expected. Business is suspended. It is rumored that the fight will commence at 8 o'clock, this evening, unless Anderson shall have surrendered...
Thousands of persons are lining the shores to witness the attack.
-Missouri Republican, April 12, 1861
The ball has opened. War is inaugurated. The batteries of Sullivan's Island, Morris Island and other points were opened on Fort Sumter at 4 o'clock this morning. Fort Sumter has returned the fire, and a brisk cannonading has been kept up.
-Missouri Republican, April 13, 1861
The interconnection between the two goes beyond the fact that the origins of the game in St. Louis and it's early development were happening at the same time as the war was breaking out and being fought. It goes beyond the fact that men who were involved in the early history of St. Louis baseball also were involved in the fighting of the war. The importance of the Civil War in the early history of baseball in the city - and baseball generally - has to do with the fact that the war was the defining event of the era. You simply can't discuss the late 1850s and the first half of the 1860s in the United States without discussing the Civil War. It overshadows everything.
Baseball is trivial when compared to the death and destruction brought about by the war and I'm not even certain that we're capable of understanding how the war effected people. But it did effect them and, to a large degree, defined who they were.
The war also effected how the game evolved and developed during the 1860s. We'll get into this in more depth as we go along but baseball would have spread much more quickly if the war hadn't taken place. The great outbreak of baseball fever that took place in the second half of the 1860s - the incredible growth and spread of the game that we see after 1865 - most likely would have taken place four years earlier.
What I'm going to try and do here is chronicle baseball in St. Louis during the Civil War. I want to talk about the clubs and the players of that era and I absolutely want to talk about how the war effected the development of the game in the city. I'm not sure if I can do this without ranging a little far afield. I'm not sure if I can do this without talking about Nathaniel Lyon or John Fremont of Edward Bredell, Sr., or Louisa Kearny or Camp Jackson but that's what makes this real interesting. The history of baseball collides with the real world and some strange things happen. At some point, I'm going to have to talk about the siege of Vicksburg and guerrilla action in the Shenandoah Valley.
Essentially, what I'm going to do is cover the 1861-1865 baseball seasons in St. Louis, the five seasons that took place during the war. However, to do that, I'm going to have to start a little bit prior to April of 1861 because the story of St. Louis baseball during the Civil War begins before the Civil War starts. To the best of my knowledge, this story begins in 1859, when Edward Bredell, Jr., met Merritt Griswold.
And that's what I'm going to talk about tomorrow.