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During the American Civil War a few officers in the Army of the Potomac became involved in organizing sport for soldiers. They had ulterior motives. In each instance officers intended to use sport to improve soldier morale, assuage despondency and doubt, and to overcome homesickness. Officers chose sport because they believed that sport entertainment had the capacity to create excitement, excitement that drew men's minds off immediate problems and left a generalized "good feeling" among the men. Once officers had assigned a use value to sport, they began to consider ways to maximize sport's usefulness as a morale booster. To this end officers attempted to organize sport to produce the greatest entertainment for the greatest number. Their experiment, begun in the fall of 1861, continued periodically during 1862, and reached major proportions during the winter camp at Falmouth, Virginia in 1863. Between January 1, 1863 and April 18, 1863 officers produced six major sport festivals. Each festival drew between ten and twenty thousand soldiers. After Falmouth the experiment ended abruptly.


Author Accepted (post peer review) manuscript of an article published in:

Fielding, L. W., Pitts, B. G., Fee, R.A. & Weinberg, W.T. (1985, December) The Demise of Officer Involvement in Soldiers Sport During the American Civil War. Canadian Journal of History of Sport, Vol. 16 (2), p. 72- 86.

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