American Civil War for Kids and Teachers - Soldiers, Leisure Time Activities including a game called baseball Illustration

Civil War Soldiers Leisure Time & Baseball

In both the North and the South, while in camp, free time was spent writing letters home, playing cards, pitching horseshoes, reading, listening to music, cleaning uniforms and equipment, sleeping, praying, gambling, foraging, and playing sports like boxing, horse racing, foot racing, and baseball.

Baseball had been invented prior to the Civil War, but it had not yet caught on as a national sport. Games were held mostly in New York with some in New Jersey. When President Lincoln discovered baseball, he loved it. He had a baseball field set up on the White House grounds. He allowed kids to play there, and occasionally played baseball on his field himself. When the Civil War began, the Union army distributed New York baseball rule book to the troops. Baseball was a game easy to set up, took very little equipment, and kept the men busy. The game quickly became popular with Union soldiers. Southern troops learned the game of baseball from Union prisoners. There were about 160 prisoner of war camps. Conditions in all prison camps were horrible. But not all of them were the nightmare of the Confederate prison at Andersonville or the Union prisons at Elmira and Rock Island. In some prison camps, both sides set up a baseball team and played each other, North against South.

Letters & Packages

Baseball in the Civil War

Baseball spreads to the South

Music, Bugles, Songs, Bands


Playing Games

Drinking and Smoking


Taking Pictures

See Also:

The Civil War for Kids, Index

Civil War Interactive Games & Activities for Kids

Civil War Presentations in PowerPoint format

Civil War Video Clips

Civil War Clip Art for Kids and Teachers

Civil War, Free iPad & iPhone apps

American Civil War Lesson Plans for Teachers