How the Civil War Spread Baseball
There is no question that during the Civil War, Union soldiers took baseball seriously as a healthful pastime to relieve stress and while away their time in captivity. The Confederate prison camp at Salisbury, North Carolina, for example, was known for the quality of baseball played by its Northern inmates, and the spread of baseball to the South through this unusual and unfortunate venue is undisputed.
As the war progressed and the quality of life and survival rate among Northern prisoners declined, no doubt baseball and other forms of exercise were dramatically curtailed. For a time; however, soldiers could reclaim their sense of freedom by swinging a bat and perhaps hitting the ball over the stockade.
Image: Union Prisoners at Salisbury, North Carolina, Otto Boetticher, lithograph, 1863.