Friday, June 29, 2012

North Alabama gains Civil War diaries

The University of North Alabama has received two diaries written by a woman who lived in what is now a campus building. The diaries of Sally Independence Foster include a period while she was living in Rogers Hall, which was once occupied by soldiers including Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. • Article

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Emanc. Proclamation copy goes for $2M

A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln during the Civil War fetched just over $2 million in an auction won by a billionaire financier. • Article

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vintage baseball team honors Civil War soldiers, traditions of the game

Part 1: Georgia fort teams square off Sunday

Gib "Judge" Young can't quite see second base when he's umpiring for the Huntington Champion Hill Toppers, a group of guys who play old-timey baseball in Indiana.

Not to worry.

Sometimes he all ask fans, cranks as their known in the parlance, whether a ball was caught for an out or if a player was tagged in time.

He might even call a vote.

"The players accept that. There is no arguing," said Young. "Only a ruffian or a common laborer would argue with an umpire."

Welcome to this Indiana town's version of vintage baseball.

The Hill Toppers play by 1862 rules, used during the Civil War and used by ballists (players) in the Union Army. Popular in New York and parts of the Northeast before the war, baseball spread like wildfire after it, with amateur and community teams forming in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

The Hill Toppers follow Vintage Base Ball Association rules, but there are some allowances for their graying ranks when they play at home -- virtually no stealing or sliding. Nine-inning games seldom last longer than 75 minutes.

"We play for the spirit of the game and camraderie and the aim of nobody getting hurt," says Dennis "Pops" Wiegmann, 33, a hurler (pitcher) for the Hill Toppers. (photo, above)

The team, formed in 2005, was named in honor of a pivotal Mississippi battle in May 16, 1863. The Battle of Champion Hill occurred during Ulysses S. Grant’s operations against Vicksburg. The bloody clash ended in a full Confederate retreat.

Seventeen boys from Huntington County, southwest of Fort Wayne, were killed or mortally wounded in the engagement.

Young, who had several ancestors who fought for the Union, said Huntington has one of the few remaining Grand Army of the Republic room's in the state, on the second floor of the courthouse.

The GAR, the largest Union veterans group, was hugely influential in Indiana and other states for a few decades after the war.

"If you were Republican and wanted to be elected, you wanted to have the GAR on your side," he said.

The Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA), with about 115 teams, posts several 19th-century rules on its website and provides a history of the game, which has evolved over 150 years.

Vintage teams pitch the ball underhanded and can get a player out by catching a fly ball or the ball on one bounce. Ballists use no gloves. Strikes and balls are not called as they are today, because it's a hitter's game. Walks are not issued.

"Before the Civil War there was a contest between the Massachusetts game (rounders) and the New York game, like it is today. The New York game was more popular and competitive and won out," said Young.

The farther west it traveled, the game became more community-oriented, rather than the focus on the club.

One St. Louis team, became an artillery unit during the Civil War, according to Young.

"There were games played in various camps," he said. "By the time the war ended, there probably wasn't a county in the North where someone wasn't exposed to or played in the game of baseball."

Last year, the modern-day Hoosiers traveled to Gettysburg, Pa., to play the game (photo, right).

Wiegmann, a school teacher, says the game of that era -- before it became more professional -- was focused on gentlemanly conduct and getting the ball over the plate, so the striker (batter) could hit it.

"You cheer a guy (even on the other team) when they make a good play," said Wiegmann.

The VBBA is most popular in the Northeast and Midwest, with Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, New York and Massachusetts leading the way. There are only a handful of teams in the South and West.

Observers say VBBA teams in the East are more competitive and strictly adhere to the rules.

For the VBBA's Hill Toppers, a game is as much a social event as an athletic enterprise.

After every match, the host team hosts a meal for the opposing teams, with names like the Deep River Grinders, Cincinnati Buckeyes and the Cleveland Blues.

That doesn't mean the Hill Toppers don't try to come out with a win -- but it's how they play the game that matters as much as the score.

"When I hurl I try to get it to a place where they swing. I don't put it right where they want it," said Wiegmann.

Getting new players and fans is not easy at a time when social media means more than group participation.

Without sponsorship, players on the team must pay for uniforms, postgame meals and other expenses.

"Eighteen-year-old old boys have a hard time spending money that way," said Young. The average age of the Hill Toppers roster is about 50.

Interaction with the fans is an important part of vintage baseball. The umpire and ballists have a lot of fun with it.

The Hill Toppers lead a team song at the end of the seventh inning.

"When we do get them (fans), the judge issues finds for spitting and cussing," said Wiegmann. "When a lady wears shorts, he might admonish players for looking at a lady's ankles. They have to play a quarter fine."

Young, 63, is a State Farm agent with many interests, including membership in the Sons of Union Veterans. He also makes appearances as President Theodore Roosevelt.

A founder of the Hill Toppers, Young (photo, left) said baseball is a romantic and historic game that grew during the Industrial Age.

The umpire's main role is ensuring decorum and good sportsmanship on the field.

"We are gentlemen ballists first. We are sportsmen," said Young. "Arguing is beneath us. Our guys like that part of the game. Winning or losing does not matter. When we get new people, we tell them, what matters is we have a good time."

All photos courtesy of Dennis Wiegmann, except for photo of Gib Young.

Huntington Champion Hill Toppers
Vintage Base Ball Association

Sunday, June 24, 2012

5-day Antietam seminar set for July

The Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce's next Civil War seminar will focus on the one-day battle 150 years ago that had the most casualties. One of the largest groups of Antietam authorities ever assembled at a single seminar will be presenters at "Antietam: The Bloodiest Day" from July 25 to 29. • Article

Friday, June 22, 2012

Part 2 of Barns of Gettysburg: Dairy family treasures historic log structure

In the market for a farm, Tom Clowney and his wife read up on some brouchures and traveled to Adams County, Pa., to look several over.

One of their stops was Grover Yingling's place.

"When the owner took me to the upstairs part of the barn I was disappointed. I had never seen a log barn before," he said.

"It looked old and it wasn't quite what I was looking for," Clowney recalled. "(But) You could turn around and see alfalfa growing. When you see that you know it is good land. You can change the barn, but you can't change the land."

Their first try for a loan in 1960 fell through because of the barn's age and condition. Eventually, they secured a loan and have been in the dairy business at the location ever since.

They kept the barn.

"It's very important to us," said Clowney, now 80. "We never intend to tear it down."

The Clowneys, who farm off Taneytown Road south of Gettysburg, are the 13th owners on the site, dating back to a Thomas Stevenson in 1741.

The barn is on the registry of Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, which helps preserve the hundreds of historic barns in the county. Clowney said in 1798 it was recorded as an old log barn.

The momentous Battle of Gettysburg occurred several miles north in July 1863. Union troops moved up on Taneytown Road to meet advancing Confederates.

"Most local people say there was no battle here," Clowney said of his farm.

Over the years friends have surveyed the 200-acre with metal detectors. "They find different things but not much related to the Civil War."

But that changed several weeks ago when someone discovered three Civil War-era bullets not far from the old barn.

Clowney's two sons help run the family farm, caring for Holsteins, Jerseys and Brown Swiss cows.

Unlike German-style barns featuring sawed lumber, the Clowney's historic barn, one of four on the farm, is made of hand-hewn logs.

The historic structure is 28 feet wide and 40 feet long.

"The upstairs is where we keep straw. We have hay and a granary." Downstairs features 12 pens and an area where they tend sick cows.

Most of the oak and chestnut timbers are orginal, though the roof has been replaced. An underground tile system was put in to help with drainage. "The foundation is very secure," Clowney said.

His daughter lives on another property with a barn.

"One of the old stories we heard Union army occupied that barn and they must have had a lantern where they poured oil, because it burned part of the log."

Photographs courtesy of Tom Clowney

Historic Gettysburg-Adams County
Details on Gettysburg farms and barns

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Author contacts descendants of Elmira POWs

Nearly 150 years after they died in one of the Civil War's worst prison camps, the nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers buried in an upstate New York cemetery are remembered in a recently published book, a private quest to account for those buried in the Woodlawn National Cemetery • Article

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'I get chill bumps': Virginian makes reproductions of Confed. generals' furniture

Joe Cress, who operates Logan Creek Designs in Abingdon, Va., specializes in making and selling reproductions of furniture used by Confederate generals. Saturday, at 7 p.m., he will speak at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., about items he crafted for the 2003 Civil War movie “Gods and Generals.” Cress, 60, also will discuss battlefield preservation. He became interested in making high-quality Civil War furniture reproductions during a visit to the Virginia Military Institute Museum. Cress is a re-enactor with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry. The Picket recently spoke with him.

Q. How did you become interested in cabinetmaking?

A. My hero is my high school shop teacher in the 1960s. He allowed me to come work in my spare hours. My dad had a shop in the basement. I was in the shop at 6 or 7, fooling around with things. We made race carts and go-carts.

Q. What was the process of obtaining measurements and the like for this historic reproductions?
A. You arrange to have the artifact taken off display so you can physically handle it with gloves with someone there. You draw it, photograph it and measure it. (Sometimes Cress makes repeat visits). I get chill bumps talking about this (furniture). These guys carried it and worked from it, or in Stonewall Jackson’s case he died in it.

Q. Any favorite woods to work with?

A. My favorite is cherry. Walnut or pine were common then.

Q. What is your personal favorite?

A. The Stonewall Jackson deathbed (photo, above). It took several years to come out with the final element. I have one that I sleep on here. The original is at Guinea Station, Va. (A leg he makes for the bed is among the pieces he is bringing to Kennesaw). That bed can use a mattress or rope, although the latter is not real comfortable. Mine is made of cherry, the original is part heart pine and part maple. It was not made in a factory because all four legs were different in dimension. Artistically, it is a functional bed. What is different is that it is an acorn top bed (top of legs). Most others are cannonballs. There are so many intricate turnings (it) showed the fellow spent a lot of time he did not have to take.

Q. What is the most popular item?

A. The Jackson desk (photo, below) is the flagship. I lose myself (in the detail). I select each piece of wood.

Q. How long does it take to make one of the reproductions?

A. A Jackson bed ($6,300 plus tax and shipping) takes about a month. I can make the Jackson field desk ($4,695) in three weeks and a Robert E. Lee chest ($1,850) in one week. (Cress is bringing such a chest to Kennesaw)

Q. What about your royalty arrangement with museums and institutions? (Cress has an agreement with the Museum of the Confederacy that allows him to make and sell reproductions of the Robert E. Lee camp chest and the J.E.B. Stuart field desk. VMI permits him to make the popular Jackson field desk.)

A. They get a set percentage of every sale. We change a joint here and there, alter it dimensionally (so it can’t be mistaken for the original). Soon after (Stonewall) Jackson died in 1863 there originated in New York a dozen original Jackson Bibles. A discerning collector can tell a replica from an original at 15 feet. We also render a fee to the National Park Service for the reproduction of the Jackson death bed at Guinea Station and the Robert E. Lee field desk ($5,650) at Gettysburg.

Q. Who are your customers?

A. My demographics are 45 to 75 in years, successful professionals, with discretionary income. They are furniture collectors, not just Civil War people. I get to know these people. The furniture is functional. You can put your feet and laptop up on it. Three out of four of my clients use the furniture.

Q. Tell me about your preservation efforts.

A. I do fund-raising for endangered land (particularly with Central Virginia Battlefields Trust). My advice is get active in the preservation of the endangered lands, buying it up and putting it up in perpetuity for the National Park Service. Don’t just shoot your black powder. Get out there and put your money up. The reproduction Stuart field desk I am bringing to Kennesaw will be auctioned later to benefit the Central Virginia trust. I am hoping to raise $25,000 with it.

Q. What about your own designs?

A. I created the Little Sorrel (Jackson’s horse) casket (1,250). It has his actual cremains. The casket is buried on the VMI parade ground under the Jackson statue and four guns. People have bought the reproduction casket to hold the remains of their (entire) family.

For more information on Saturday’s free program, contact Michael K. Shaffer at or 678-797-2551. Guests should park in the Kennesaw State University West Parking Deck, then enter Building 22, the Social Sciences building, and go to the auditorium. Photos, courtesy of Logan Creek Designs.

Kennesaw State University campus maps
Logan Creek Designs

Monday, June 18, 2012

150 years ago: 7 Andrews raiders hanged

Ten days after their ringleader was hanged, seven participants in the Andrews Raid (also known as the Great Locomotive Chase) were executed in Atlanta on June 18, 1862.

The hangings of soldiers Marion A. Ross, George D. Wilson, Charles P. Shadrach, John M. Scott, Samuel Slavens, Samuel Robertson and civilian William Campbell, occurred near Oakland Cemetery.

After the Civil War, their remains were removed from a trench and reinterred at the national cemetery in Chattanooga.

James Andrews and his band of commandos tried to destroy much of the Western & Atlantic Railroad as they rushed northward from Kennesaw, Ga., on April 12, 1862. They achieved little success and eight of the nearly two dozen participants, disguised as civilians, were tried and hanged as spies.

Recap of the Great Locomotive Chase

Sunday, June 17, 2012

See 'Gods and Generals', learn about reproduction furniture used in movie

A metro Atlanta university is offering an interesting twofer: A free screening of 2003's "Gods and Generals" and a talk by a master cabinet maker who made furniture pieces used in the film.

The Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University will present the movie at 6 p.m. June 18 (Monday) at the Social Sciences building theater. Popcorn will be provided.

At 7 p.m. June 23 (Saturday), furniture maker Joe Cress of Abingdon, Va., will discuss items he made for the film and his interest in battlefield preservation. That program, also free, is the building's auditorium.

“You could put some of his reproductions next to the original items and you would be very hard-pressed to tell them apart," said Michael K. Shaffer, assistant director of the center.

"Gods and Generals" focuses on Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and his spectacular successes from 1861 to 1863.

Cress specializes in making high-quality reproductions of furniture used by Confederate generals. At Kennesaw, he will show his Robert E. Lee camp chest, a bed leg from the death bed of Jackson and the J.E.B. Stuart field desk (right). A few of his company's designs are licensed with Virginia Military Institute and the Museum of the Confederacy, which have the originals.

He made seven or eight items for the movie.

“The set decoration folk have warehouses of artifacts they can choose from," Cress told the Picket. “They wanted to get as close to the original pieces as they could."

For more information on either program, contact Shaffer at or 678-797-2551. Guests should park in the West Parking Deck, then enter Building 22, the Social Sciences building. Photo of Stuart desk courtsey of Logan Creek Designs.

Kennesaw State University campus maps
Civil War Center's Facebook page

COMING TUESDAY IN THE PICKET: A closer look at Joe Cress' specialized craft

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clara Barton lives on as a bobblehead

Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, will be commemorated on 1,000 bobbleheads in a giveaway sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the Hagerstown Suns baseball team.

The June 23 game will have a Civil War theme, given its proximity to the Antietam battlefield. • Article

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cataloging precious family heirlooms

Personnel from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum came to Rutledge Tuesday to collect images and information on Civil War relics. Among the items they documented was a sword that was bent when a Confederate cavalryman fell after being shot by a sniper. • Article

Monday, June 11, 2012

Barns of Gettysburg: Preserving these witnesses to war's valor and horror

Its renters having fled, the McPherson farm stood in the direct path of the horde of Confederates under the command of Maj. Gen Henry Heth, marching into Gettysburg, Pa., on July 1, 1863.

Over the next several hours, Union forces under cavalryman Brig. Gen. John Buford and Maj. Gen. John Reynolds furiously countered the Rebel thrust, buying time for the Union Army to form a defensive line along Cemetery Ridge.

The McPherson barn (above), constructed about 50 years before the battle, is a classic Pennsylvania structure, featuring a cantilevered forebay, pitched gable roof and stone foundation.

The barn, near Chambersburg Pike, sheltered Federal troops, and sharpshooters fired from embrasures in the walls -- Heth surmised he was wounded by a shot from the barn. Eventually, the position was overrun. Stranded Union prisoners were unattended until July 6, after the battle, when the surviving structure was used as a field hospital.

“The barn has a beautiful view, looking west and seeing various ridges,” said Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for Gettysburg National Military Park. “You can almost imagine the Confederate troops heading toward Gettysburg."

The McPherson barn is one of nearly 20 within the park’s boundary, most of which are original. Five of them are featured along with eight other Civil War-era barns in a 2013 fund-raising calendar now on sale, produced by Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, a society that promotes and supports barn preservation and restoration in the south-central Pennsylvania County.

Each structure tells its own fascinating story.

Two barns were burned during the three-day battle: The Bliss barn blaze was intentionally set to thwart Confederate sharpshooters. Wounded Union soldiers seeking shelter in the Sherfy barn died an agonizing death in the other.

Another structure on a farm briefly used as headquarters by Union commander Maj. Gen. George Meade. And the Trostle farm barn (photos, above and left) still has the hole left by a Confederate artillery shell.

Curt Musselman, president of Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, said about 500 of Adams County’s 1,500 historic barns were around at the time of the momentous battle.

Only a fraction of them are within the park’s boundaries; many others served as shelters, headquarters and hospitals in the rolling farmland surrounding Gettysburg.

Barns on park property are maintained by the National Park Service. They have fire sprinkler systems and equipment that help protect them from today’s primary enemy – lightning. (Photo below, McClean farm barn north of Gettysburg on NPS land.)

“We do not lease out the barns for agricultural use,” Lawhon told the Picket. “To protect them from fire, they are not used for hay storage or for storing gas-powered equipment such as tractors.

Twelve farmers have leases to grow crops and graze cattle on NPS land at Gettysburg.

"There's a constant need to do preservation maintenance on the barns," Lawhon said. "(It includes) protecting them from water that comes off these large roofs. It can undermine the stone foundations. If the bank barn (earthen embankment that moves up to the upper level ) gets waterlogged it has a tendency for the foundation to fall into the barn."

Musselman’s group works to safeguard barns not on federal property.

Its efforts include an annual barn dance, a survey and registry, art show and, now, the $20 calendar. This year’s dance is set for Oct. 6 in the town of Orrtanna.

"They are a real place-setter as far as I am concerned,” Musselman said of the barns. “They are unique to this area.”

"We really have a beautiful, large rural county where agriculture is still a big part of what happens here economically,” said Musselman, a park cartographer. “We are trying to preserve the rural character of the county. If we put up factory farms it would not be the same thing."

Agriculture in Adams County has shifted a bit since Civil War days, with a big focus now on fruit tree crops, such as cherries and peaches.

"We're the leading apple producer in Pennsylvania,” said Musselman.

Farms at the time of the battle were primarily subsistence; some had granaries.

"Most of the barns are made in a very solid fashion,” according to Musselman. “In some cases, they may need some shoring up.”

Adams County is considered to be in the core region for Pennsylvania barns, inspired by farmers who came over from Switzerland and southern Germany. Most of the earliest barns were made of logs.

The barns are known for a cantilever or overhang on the front and an entrance to a second level via a ramp. The style spread to Ohio and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Historic Gettysburg-Adams County is preparing to launch a program in which it provides up to $2,500 in match money to make repairs on area barns.

"The roof or the foundation are the primary areas where you have the most problems,” said Musselman. "The frame starts rotting and there the barn goes."

Perhaps the oldest surviving barn in the county was built around 1760.

"It's what we call ironclad; it keeps the wood from rotting. You go inside and see these gigantic beams," said Musselman.

Farms on the northern end of the battlefield tended to be more prosperous, according to Lawhon. Soil in the south was rockier.

An observer also could judge a farmer's affluence by his fences.

"A post-and-rail fence is much more expensive to make than the traditional Virginia worm (zig-zag)," the spokeswoman said.

Summary of a few barns at Gettysburg National Military Park:

-- Lydia Leister barn (two photos, above) is a one-story double pen log, plank, and frame building with a one-story lean-to addition on the south. The building was located in the rear of the center of the Union battle line andused to shelter Union headquarters staff and horses until they moved because of heavy gunfire. It later was used as a temporary aid station and field hospital when headquarters was relocated elsewhere.

-- Joseph Sherfy barn, destroyed during the course of the battle, has been reconstructed. It had been used as a shelter for wounded Union soldiers, many of whom died in a fire that consumed the barn. According to the Stone Sentinels website, a soldier from the 77th New York Infantry who observed it wrote, “As we passed the scene of conflict on the left was a scene more than unusually hideous. Blackened remains marked the spot where, on the morning of the 3rd, stood a large barn. It had been used as a hospital. It had taken fire from the shells of the hostile batteries, and had quickly burned to the ground. Those of the wounded not able to help themselves were destroyed by the flames, which in a moment spread through the straw and dry material of the building. The crisped and blackened limbs, heads and other portions of bodies lying half consumed among the heaps of ruins and ashes made up one of the most ghastly pictures ever witnessed, even on the field of war.”

-- The Joshiah Benner farm (photo, right), Old Harrisburg Road, was bought in 2011. The park is trying to receive funding to do needed rehabilitation. Its location placed it in the line of advance by Early’s Confederate Division on the afternoon of July 1. In an effort to attack and outflank Union positions on and near Barlow Knoll, Confederates had to pass around this solid obstacle. "The walls and height of the building provided cover for skirmishers on both sides during various portions of the July 1 conflict. At the close of the fighting of that day, the barn was pressed into use as a temporary Confederate hospital," according to the NPS.

-- The Abraham and Catherine Trostle barm is a two-story brick and frame Pennsylvania bank barn on a granite foundation. The location of the farm near the bottomland of Plum Run placed it between two Union defensive positions of Cemetery Ridge and Emmitsburg Road Ridge on July 2. It was used as headquarters by the commanding general of the 3rd Corps, Daniel Sickles (photo, left). At least one Union battery was located in the yards of the barn and house and drew return fire from several Confederate batteries on July 2. From the evening of July 2 to the evening of July 3, the barn was in the hands of Confederates. It is likely that the barn served temporarily for hospital purposes after close of the fighting on July 5.

Modern barn photos courtesy of Gettysburg National Military Park. Historic photos, Library of Congress

Historic Gettysburg-Adams County
Details on Gettysburg farms and barns
From the Fields of Gettysburg blog

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grab some popcorn and weigh in!

If you prefer a movie not on the list above, give it in a plug in the comment area of this post.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Observances in Memphis through weekend

More than 200 people gathered in Confederate Park to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Battle of Memphis with a cannon-blasting finale and a lesson about the Tenneessee city's reluctance to surrender. • Article

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding her man at prisoner camp

The Civil War tale “Amelia” revolves around the adventures of its feisty title character, culminating in her disguising herself as a man to find her husband in the Camp Sumter military prison in Andersonville, Ga. The production runs through June 17 on Governors Island, New York. • Article

Monday, June 4, 2012

Striker up! Baseball tradition still takes the field at two Savannah-area forts

First of two parts

In the photograph, members of Company G, 48th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment proudly stand at attention on the Fort Pulaski parade ground.

Behind them, almost serving as a backdrop, other soldiers play a game that transcends geography and stations in life.

In 1862, months after the Savannah, Ga., fort fell to Union forces, Henry P. Moore took one of the earliest surviving photos of a baseball game.

Three images of regimental companies and ballplayers (ballists) are the most remarkable of the many photos taken of the 48th during its yearlong garrison duty at Pulaski.

Staff members and volunteers at Fort Pulaski National Monument keep that baseball tradition alive with pickup games and the recently inaugurated "Rumble on the River" (above) between Pulaski and Old Fort Jackson, a Confederate defensive fortification operated by the Coastal Heritage Society.

The Fort Pulaski Nine won last year's game 1-0 and hope to keep that tiny streak going July 1 when they again host Fort Jackson's squad, playing as the Savannah Republican Blues, a militia unit.

Park ranger Joel Cadoff is a hurler (pitcher) and outfielder for the Pulaski team, which competes on the very parade ground where members of the 48th New York drilled and played the game.

"The hardest thing is forgetting modern baseball," said Cadoff, 35, a Massachusetts native and Boston Red Sox fan. "It almost seems like a sandlot game. There are certain rules that are very different."

There are no gloves or called balls. Hurlers throw the ball underhanded. A striker (batter) is called out if the ball is caught in the air or on one bounce.

For purposes of discussion and good-natured bantering, the Pulaski team is aligned with the North, while Old Fort Jackson represents the South.

Not that the uniforms make it easy to pick out the sides. The Savannah Republican Blues and other Confederates units, particularly early in the conflict, also wore blue.

Allowances will be made for steamy summer weather and field conditions.

"We will wear sky blue trousers and our blue forage caps. Especially in July we won't wear the blue sack coats," said Cadoff. "We are not wearing brogans. We are wearing modern footwear. The parade ground is not even, with dips and ruts."

Brian Lee, site administrator and hurler-catcher for Old Fort Jackson, recently wrote "Baseball in Savannah," a pictorial history of teams and athletes that have played in the city since the Civil War. The current minor league team, the Sand Gnats, are affiliated with the New York Mets.

Baseball got its start in the Northeast, with several variations and sets of rules adopted before and during the Civil War. Southern troops had little familiarity with the sport and there is no evidence it was played at Fort Jackson.

"You would have seen Union troops in down time entertaining themselves," said Lee (photo, left). "They had the upper hand. They weren't the ones being besieged. They had a little more free time."

The rivalry provides an opportunity for both venues to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and educate patrons about soldiers' and sailors' lives. The game is played with decorum, and participants of both genders are expected to behave like gentlemen.

"We are part of the same story," Lee, 34, said.

Old Fort Jackson's squad last year portrayed the Irish Volunteers.

Unlike Pulaski, the game at Old Fort Jackson is played outside fortifications on an old rice field. The grass is cut shorter, ideal for scoring runs.

Old Fort Jackson is close to downtown Savannah but a bit off the beaten path. The submerged wreckage of the Rebel ironclad CSS Georgia lies nearby in the Savannah River.

Attendance has been up the past couple years, said Lee, averaging between 40,000 and 50,000 annual visitors. Fort Jackson has a longer history than Pulaski, including service during the War of 1812.

Mustered in Brooklyn, the 48th New York served more than a year at Pulaski before being sent to Hilton Head, S.C., and on to the bloody fighting at Battery Wagner near Charleston, where it suffered heavy casualties.

Brigade commander Col. William Barton is remembered for the Barton Dramatic Association, a theater group that entertained the troops at Fort Pulaski.

"They had professional actors who are in the army and they put on some well-received productions," said Cadoff.

Among the patrons who saw productions outside the walls were Union officers and enlisted men stationed at Hilton Head and Port Royal, S.C.

The 48th contingent included a marching band (photo, below).

"The photos are being taken of individual companies," Cadoff said of the three images that contain the baseball players. "These guys aren't thinking guys will be paid millions of dollars (in later years) to play this game."

Both Cadoff and Lee are confident of victory on July 1.

"I like Fort Jackson's chances," said the latter. "Pulaski fell 150 years ago. They might fall again."

"We're 1,000. We haven't been defeated yet," bragged Cadoff. "They have to bring their A game."

1862 parade ground photo and game photos courtesy of Fort Pulaski National Monument; 48th New York marching band photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Coming soon: A closer look at the Vintage Base Ball Association and one of its teams, the Huntington (Indiana) Champion Hill Toppers, named for a Civil War battle.

Fort Pulaski National Monument | • Old Fort Jackson

Best, worst, most popular postage stamps

Two U.S. stamps commemorating the first year of the Civil War were chosen the "favorite stamp" of 2011 by readers of Linn's Stamp News, a weekly newspaper. Because the stamps are on the same small sheet, they count as a single stamp in the poll.• Article