Sunday, August 10, 2014

Battling in Parisppany and a Base Ball Battery (Civil War Style)

Photo by Mark Granieri

Last Saturday the Neshanock were scheduled to play in the Old Time Base Ball Festival at Old Bethpage Village on Long Island, but the weather interceded giving Flemington a badly needed day off.  Next up was yesterday's date with the Hoboken Nine, matches scheduled for a venue that fell through for some reason.  Fortunately Parsippany, New Jersey was more than willing to host the matches on relatively short notice.  Thanks to Mayor James R. Barberio, the Morristown Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution and the North Jersey Civil War Round Table for making both clubs feel welcome and providing everything we needed.  It was an good venue and those in attendance were certainly interested in learning about 19th century base ball.  On a personal note, I was grateful for the help of my friend, Rich Rosenthal, chair of the NJCWRT and it was a pleasure to meet Fran Becker, a reader of this blog.  

Photo by Mark Granieri

Both matches were seven inning contests played under 1864 rules with Hoboken striking first in the initial match which proved to be a low scoring affair.  Flemington led 4-3 after five innings, but Hoboken tallied twice in the sixth for a 5-4 advantage which the Neshanock were never able to overcome falling by an 8-5 count.  Flemington mounted little offense in the contest with just seven hits as only Rene "Mango" Marrero and Ken "Tumbles" Mandel got two hits apiece.  After a brief break featuring Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw's rendition of "Casey at the Bat" (once again the slugger failed to come through), the second game got underway, this time with Flemington striking first.  After not generating much offense in the first match, the Neshanock struck quickly in the first  tallying six times, but Hoboken responded with five of their own in what was clearly going to be a higher scoring affair.  In addition to scoring six times in the first, the Neshanock tallied five times in the seventh, but could only manage four runs in the other five innings while Hoboken scored in all, but one inning and held on for an 18-15 win.  "Mango" continued his hot hitting with four hits, joined by Mark "Gaslight" Granieri, also with four and Chris "Sideshow" Nunn who had three.

Monument to Clark's Battery at Gettysburg

During the long weekend at the Gettysburg Vintage Base Ball Festival, I took part of the Neshanock party on a relatively brief tour of the battlefield.  The goal was to provide an overall sense of the battle and to visit some of the places where New Jersey troops were engaged, incorporating three base ball references along the way.  The first base ball connection was literally at the first stop, the site where General John Reynolds, commander of the Union I Corps, was killed almost immediately upon arriving on the scene.  The base ball connection is the identity of Reynolds replacement, none other than Abner Doubleday himself, who while he deserves no spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame, earned a monument at Gettysburg for his performance as interim Corps commander.  The second base ball reference was something I wrote about after the Neshanock's 2013 visit to Gettysburg, a base ball match played by the officers of the 11th New Jersey in the spring of 1863.   During the tour we stopped at the monument to the 11th's role in the battle, fighting so fierce that every officer over the rank of lieutenant was either killed or wounded including five of the base ball players (three killed, two wounded).

Print of Clark's battery in camp in November of 1863 as shown on the eBay web site, the base ball match is in the lower right hand corner

While the 11th New Jersey base ball match took place prior to Gettysburg, the third reference involved a game played several months after the battle, not long before Abraham Lincoln gave his historic speech at the new Gettysburg National Cemetery.  Playing in the match were members of Battery B of the 1st New Jersey artillery, more popularly known as Clark's battery which served with distinction on both the second and third days at Gettysburg.  The base ball connection came to my attention when my friend, Joe Bilby sent me a picture of a print of Clark's battery in camp at Brandy Wine Station,Virginia in November of 1863.  The print shows members of the battery engaged in various camp activities including a group in the lower right hand corner playing base ball.  Joe cautioned me that the picture was not in the public domain so I set out try to locate the original.  My search took me to the Baseball Hall of Fame library which only has a copy and so couldn't give permission to use it.  The library also passed on a link to an recent sale of a copy on eBay for about $425.  The above picture is from the eBay web site.

Some of the members of Clark's battery from Michael Hanifen's History of Battery B, First New Jersey Artillery

Based on the eBay description it appears the print is a lithograph of the original drawing.  I read somewhere that the drawing was made after the war for an 1870 reunion of the battery which was formed in the fall of 1861 primarily from Newark and Essex County.  According to the eBay web site, the print was produced by Merinsky's Litho and Printing of New York City from a drawing made by E. Stutzen, "a member of the battery."  One thing you learn quickly in historical research is to check everything so it wasn't totally a surprise to find that neither Michael Hanifen's 1905 history of the battery nor the New Jersey State Archives data base has any record of a Stutzen serving in Clark's battery.  There is, however, an 1890 Civil War widow's pension application from a Barbara A. Stutzen for her late husband, Charles E. Stutzen which states he served in the 4th New Jersey infantry, but, here again, no confirmation of his service has been found.  The next step is to order a copy of the pension file from the National Archives which hopefully will shed some light on the subject.

Stutzen Civil War Pension Application

Regardless of the outcome of further research on the artist, it's no surprise men from Clark's battery played base ball in camp, especially if they came from Essex County.  By 1860 there easily 30-40 active base ball clubs in Newark and the surrounding communities.  Many were junior clubs made up of local neighborhood boys, but the important thing is that there was a lot of base ball being played and it's not surprising that in their spare time, volunteer soldiers reverted to a favorite peace time activity.  What is somewhat surprising is the post Gettysburg date of the match since, with only a few exceptions, all of the base ball matches played by New Jersey troops took place no later than May of 1863.  It is to be hoped the base ball players in Clark's battery enjoyed their late 1863 game, as the spring of 1864 brought constant campaigning with little respite for base ball or any other leisure activity until war's end almost a year later.  


  1. The notion that an item published in 1863 is NOT in the public domain is deluded.

  2. Referencing "Clark's Battery"
    I know the person who purchased the Lithograph from Ebay, and it was basically destroyed in shipping. The purchaser, told me he feels the "Battery B" game was played in Oct 1863, and based on his research was the "EARLIEST" documented game played during the Civil War. I have found other examples of games, but I am no historian by a long shot.. I am a fan and a carpenter : ) A dam good Fan, and a pretty good carpenter..
    My Friend asked me to build him a frame for a Newspaper article he was in... it got me interested and now I want to know a few more facts.. I can email you pictures of the fractured Lithograph...

  3. I tried to upload the photo here but it would not allow me to put a photo on the blog... Thank-you for your time, and I hope to see a response... William Green... Mickey Owen is the main character in a book I wrote several years ago, but have not garnered the courage or fortitude to have it professionally edited... :(