Last week I mentioned a civil war individual who is mistakenly thought to have invented the game of baseball. Did anyone think of who it is? If you guessed Abner Doubleday you're right.
Doubleday, born in upstate New York, graduated from West Point in 1842. He had a relatively uneventful military career prior to the Civil War. However, in April, 1861, he was part of the tiny garrison of Fort Sumter and on 12 April Doubleday fired the first Union shot of the war.
He went on to serve in the Shenandoah Valley against Stonewall Jackson and at Second Bull Run. By that time he was a brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded a division in I Corps at Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and again at Gettysburg. He took over temporary leadership of I Corps when Maj. Gen. John Reynolds died. He attempted to hold the Confederates north and west of the town. Gen. Meade doubted Doubleday's ability to command a corps and so returned him to his division. Known as "Old Forty-eight Hours" because of his deliberate manner , Doubleday was relieved of command and did not serve again in the field. He continued service in administrative posts and retired as a colonel from the Regular Army in 1873.
Tradition has it that he invented baseball. He allegedly wrote the rules in 1839, although there is no substantial proof to this belief.
The second part of my question last week was who became a well known author? Actually, there are several but I will only mention two. The first is Lew Wallace. Born in Indiana, Wallace was a lawyer before serving in the Civil War. He only served several months in the state militia before becoming colonel of the 11th Indiana. Four months later he received a star but because of poor performance at Shiloh, Tennessee, he did not become a famous military leader. His only other major combat service at Monocacy, Maryland.
He reputedly indulged in fantasy to relieve his boredom with his assignments. When Cincinnati was threatened by Confederates, he organized civilians and planned the city's successful defense. This experience lent to a framework for his first novel after the war. "The Prince of India", a tale about the siege of Constantinople received only moderate recognition. However, in 1880 while in a diplomatic post he wrote the renowned "Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ" which became one of the most beloved novels of the century.
Another author you may not know about is Louisa May Alcott. She worked for a time as a volunteer nurse in a Georgetown hospital. She witnessed more agony than many fighting men and kept a diary of her experiences. In 1863, these notes became a manuscript entitled "Hospital Sketches." Although she too was only moderately successful in her first attempt she was encouraged to continue her writing.
Soon after the war Alcott began a novel that was to become her most famous. "Little Women" was published in 1868 and became an instantaneous hit. It sold over 60,000 copies during its first year and although she wrote a dozen other books none achieved the success of this beloved work.
Swanberg, W.A., "First Blood, The Story of Fort Sumter", New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1957. 300
Wallace's picture from Haynes, Edwin Mortimer. "A history of the Tenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers." Lewiston, Me.: Tenth Vermont Regimental Association, 1870.
Hope you all enjoy these tidbits and I'll see you next week.