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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Otto Boetticher. Union Prisoners at Salisbury, North Carolina. Lithograph. New York: Sarony, Major & Knapp, 1863. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (013.00.00)

Civil War Prisoners at Play

The Civil War accelerated baseball’s popularity, as off-duty Union soldiers from the Northeast taught others the game. Officers encouraged games to foster morale and camaraderie, and Northern servicemen held in Confederate prison camps introduced the game to the South. In this illustration drawn from life at a North Carolina prison camp, spectators watch a baserunner steal second. As the war progressed, conditions worsened everywhere and prison baseball ceased.