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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Remembering A General Wrongly...

By Paul Semendinger

***

This article was written for the IBWAA's newsletter, Here's The Pitch. It was published on April 12, 2024.

***

I am always working on my next book project.  I have so many ideas for books that if I have 100 more years to write, I won't get to them all, but the one I am working on now will be an absolute winner.  I am writing about the Battle of Gettysburg and looking at the battle in a way no one has ever before.  


I love digging into history.  I, obviously, write a lot about baseball history.  I share an article or two in the IBWAA Newsletter each month and many of those articles are history based.  I also enjoy digging into other history, such as the history of the Civil War, and the Battle of Gettysburg in particular.  


There is an interesting connection to the sport of baseball standing on the battlefield (in statue form) of Gettysburg even today.  What's remarkable is that the person highlighted with the statue isn't remembered by most for his contributions to the Union victory over the three days' battle, yet he is one of the most famous names in baseball lore.  In short, this hero is remembered by many for what he did not do and he has been largely overlooked, even forgotten, for what he did do.


Imagine doing something great and being remembered for something you did not do...


I'll provide a very brief overview of the battle and the role this person played in it.


The Battle of Gettysburg took place over three days, July 1, 2, and 3, 1863.  There was a Union General, for now I'll just call him General A, that played an important role on each of the three days in helping to secure the Union victory.  


On July 1, General A was forced into command of the Union First Corps when General John Reynolds, who was commanding that corps, was shot and killed.  General A immediately took over and held the advancing Confederate army in check for about six hours buying the rest of the Union army enough time to reach the battlefield and secure the high ground behind him.  It was this high ground that was instrumental in the Union victory.  It can be argued that if General A didn't hold the line for as long as he did, that the battle would have been a rout, the Confederates would have won, and history would have been forever changed.  


On July 2, now on the high ground, this General A (and his troops, of course) helped stem a Confederate advance on the Union's right, actions, again, that helped prevent the southern army from taking the high ground, and, again, possibly winning the battle... and maybe the war.


On July 3, Confederate General Robert E. Lee took a bold action and sent an enormous army of troops to attack, en masse, the Union center.  This was the last chance attempt by the southern army to break the Union lines at Gettysburg.  This massive attack is known today as Pickett's Charge.  General A saw the advance and ordered troops forward to flank this charge, an action that others were given credit for, even though he was the General who ordered the flanking movement.  Again, this troop movement helped repel a confederate advance.  Pickett's Charge ultimately failed and the Union Army ended up winning the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg.


While there is a statue to General A on the battlefield, when people remember the battle, he is often overlooked or forgotten.  People remember names like Robert E. Lee, George Gordon Meade, Winfield Scott Hancock, James Longstreet, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain when they talk about the Battle of Gettysburg.  Many books have been written with them as the stars, even a Hollywood movie, but our dear General A doesn't receive the same recognition. 


Interestingly, General A also accompanied President Abraham Lincoln when, months later, he came to Gettysburg at the dedication of the cemetery there and delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.  Most people don't know that General A was at Gettysburg with President Lincoln.  


As noted at the start of this article, General A is remembered.  But he is remembered for something he did not do.


General A, you see, was Abner Doubleday.



Baseball legend has Mr. Doubleday as the man who invented baseball, something it is pretty well established that he did not do.  He is remembered for that.  The baseball field in Cooperstown, New York in the shadows of the Baseball Hall of Fame in even named in his honor — Doubleday Field.  


Abner Doubleday never invented baseball, but as a general, he did play a significant role in the Union winning the Battle of Gettysburg.  


Abner Doubleday is remembered; he is just remembered for the wrong thing...


***

Dr. Paul Semendinger is a retired school principal, a college professor, an educational consultant, and a public speaker, in addition to being an author.  Paul has written From Compton to the Bronx (with Roy White), The Least Among Them, Scattering the Ashes, and Impossible is an Illusion.  Paul's latest book, 365.2: Going the Distance is motivational and is one that will help inspire readers to set goals and find ways to reach them.  (The Gettysburg book is coming...)  Paul also runs the Yankees site Start Spreading the News.  You can follow Paul on Twitter @DrPaulRSem.  If you'd like to contact Paul to discuss his books, have him speak, or just to say hello, he can be reached at drpaulsemauthor@gmail.com.

8 Comments


fuster
May 27

baseball was invented by Jubilation T Cornpone, the one great hero of the Confederacy

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jeff
May 27

Wow, Paul. Fascinating stuff regarding Abner Doubleday and Gettysburg! And the misinformation society has somehow generated that Doubleday "invented baseball". Before I get to what I want to share with you, Doubleday did EVEN MORE during the Civil War. He was a captain and second in command in the garrison at Fort Sumter, under Major Robert Anderson. He aimed the cannon that fired the first return shot in answer to the Confederate bombardment on April 12, 1861. Although Doubleday did NOT invent baseball, by sheer coincidence the Fort Sumter Garrison Flag (or Storm Flag) has the star pattern arranged in a diamond shape, which by that time in history, was the shape of the baseball infield.


Paul, since you are…

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
May 28
Replying to

Thank you

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autmorsautlibertas
May 27

Great read! Thank you Dr.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
May 27

Does it really matter who created Baseball? Baseball is an offshoot of cricket, but we now have Rob Manfred who has drastically changed the rules over the last few years. Clock rules, new DH rules, ghost runners, instead of earning a run in extra innings, umpires who have total job security, who can only be overruled and pushed aside by technology, instead of other umpires no matter how badly they do their job, or stupid they sound when forced to explain what they did during the game. So just because the creator of Baseball is Mr. Doubleday, isn't Rob Manfred looking to be put into the Baseball history books to be known as the visionary who re-imagined the Game f…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 27
Replying to

It's all been going downhill since they moved the mound back to 60'6", lowered the number of balls for a walk to four, outlawed the spitter, and started putting lights around the stadiums.

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