Throughout Independence Day weekend, Fort Pulaski National Monument celebrated the nation’s 235th birthday with cannon firings, guided fort tours, and a Civil War baseball game using 19th-century rules and equipment.
Park staff and volunteers dressed as Civil War soldiers performed cannon and musket demonstrations. These historic weapons demonstrations featured a historically correct firing drill virtually copied from the Civil War artillery manuals.
The highlight of the weekend was the park’s annual “Blue vs. Gray” baseball game. This year, Fort Pulaski partnered with the Coastal Heritage Society, who operates Old Fort Jackson. On Sunday, July 3, the Fort Pulaski team also called the “New York Yankees” or the “Fort Pulaski Nine” represented the Union, while the Old Fort Jackson “Irish Volunteers” represented the Confederacy, in a Civil War baseball game.
During the Civil War, soldiers at Fort Pulaski often played America’s pastime to overcome the boredom of garrison life. One of the earliest known photographs of a baseball game was of members of the 48th New York Volunteer Infantry at the fort in 1862.
Staff and volunteers from Savannah’s two Civil War forts played baseball according to the 1860 rules of the game, adopted by the National Association of Baseball Players. Some differences between modern day baseball and the Civil War version include underhand pitching (called “hurling”) and batters (called “strikers”) are out if the ball is caught after the first bounce, as well as in the air.
For the record, the Fort Pulaski Nine were victorious, winning the game with a score of 1 to 0.