Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Lacledes In 1861

The Laclede Base Ball Club have a meeting this evening, at their rooms, to make preparations for the coming season. Members should be on hand.
-Missouri Democrat, April 4, 1861

The Laclede Base Ball Club was mentioned by Al Spink, in The National Game, as one of the early opponents of the Empire Club. E.H. Tobias stated that the club was made up of master mechanics, described them as one of the "early" clubs and noted that their grounds were located "on a lot one block north of Easton Avenue between Jefferson and Garrison." I was always unclear as to whether or not they were active during the antebellum era but I think that question has now been answered.

The most interesting thing to note here is that the club was making plans for the 1861 season. The conventional wisdom is that the only active club in St. Louis during the Civil War years was the Empire Club but this brief notice in the Missouri Democrat brings that into question. This, of course, is not conclusive evidence that the Lacledes were active during 1861 but it does raise the possibility. The club meeting was on April 4th and this was a good week before Fort Sumter and the beginning of the war. It's possible that the outbreak of hostilities forced a change in the plans of the Laclede Club. They may very well have broken and all their members may have joined the war effort (on whichever side). However, I think that the members of the club would have been very aware of the fact that war was eminent and that fact was most likely already taken into consideration before the meeting was called.

More research needs to be done to confirm whether or not the Laclede Club was active in 1861 but this is first evidence we have that a club other than the Empires was active in St. Louis during the war years. Because of that, it's rather significant.

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