Civil War Football Image: Aug. 31, 1861 – 150 Years Ago !

August 31, 1861 – Harper’s Weekly

From “The Lost Century of American Football


Football in New Orleans, 1874, Prize is Barrel of Chicago Beer

August 22, 1874, Saturday – The Morning Star and Catholic Messenger, New Orleans, Louisiana


     A grand match game of Base Ball, between the Lone Stars and the Robt. E. Lees—game to commence at 3 o’clock P.M. Prize, to be chosen by the winner.
     A grand match game of Foot Ball, twenty-five men on each side—game to commence at 6 o’clock. Prize, one barrel Chicago Lager Beer.

Football in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in August 1871

Daily Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Monday, August 14, 1871

The first game of foot-ball comes off at 11 o’clock tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 1871

This was a splendid day for the game of foot ball, the thermometer indicating a trifle less than 100°.

Football in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 1872

Aug. 11, 1872, Sunday – The Morning Star and Catholic Messenger – New Orleans


To-day will be the second and last of the festival. The programme promises a most exciting time. Besides regular running races there will be a hurdle and a float race. A grand foot ball match between fifteen members of Branch No. 3 and an equal number of Branch No. 12 will commence at 6 o’clock.

Iowa Newspaper Describes Football – Aug. 3, 1877

August, 3, 1877, Friday – Cedar Falls Gazette, Iowa

[Tinsley’s Magazine] Our English games are, as a rule, manly and healthy, demanding courage, endurance, and due temper; but in some cases they can hardly be called sane. To the uninitiated onlooker the game of foot-ball is one of the most mysterious performances which it is possible to contemplate. It would appear to be called foot-ball on the “lucus a non lucendo” principles, because the ball is hardly ever kicked.

After the first “kick off” it is seized by one of the players, who runs with it in his arms as fast and as far as he can. His opponents forthwith set upon him, and if possible, knock him down. Then there is a general struggle for the ball.

Of course the possession of it lies between two or three men in the centre of the throng; but all the rest close around them with the exception of certain ones, appointed for the purpose, with hands on knees intently watching the scrimmage.

Everyone in the main body pushes and struggles as vigorously as may be, and the outer ones put down their heads and butt like goats against their friends.

There is nothing to be seen but a writhing, swaying, confused mass of humanity from which a column of steam rises into the wintery air.

At length, those in the centre are compelled to drop the ball, and after innumerable kicks at each other’s shins, it is pushed out of the little forest of legs, whereupon one of the outside watchers make a snatch at it and carries it a few yards, when he is in turn set upon by his adversaries, and the same scene is repeated. –Tinsley’s Magazine.

From “The Lost Century of American Football

College Football – Aug. 1, 1857

The first illustration of American college football in a major publication

The first illustration of American college football to appear in a major publication, Harper's Weekly, August 1, 1857. Drawn by Winslow Homer.

From Harper’s Weekly, August 1, 1857:

The illustration which crowns these pages suggests another defect of our system. It is deficient in respect of physical training. That game of football, which we are happy to say is not yet extinct, ought to be a matter of as much concern as the Greek or mathematical prize. Indeed of the two it is the more useful exercise.

Here the English are vastly our superiors. At Cambridge it is quite common for a senior wrangler to be likewise stroke-oar in the college boat; and a well-known statesman of England is remembered for having thrashed a potent butcher, after forth-three rounds, within a week of his taking a double-first.

A professor at Cambridge, whose name it is hardly necessary to mention when we say that he is a walking encyclopedia, and the first mathematician in England, albeit a pious divine, and a man of staid character and devout habits, happened to be taking his constitutional on the banks of the river at the time of the boat-race. The river is narrow; a dexterous movement of the tiller, when the boats are side by side, will often decide the race by driving one of the competitors too near the bank. Well, this learned and pious churchman, having sauntered to the river-side just as the boats were passing, watched them for a moment with a calm face.

Soon, old memories of by-gone contests rushed to his mind – the struggle fired his blood; he was seen to clench his fists and to walk with firmer tread. As they came to a turn in the river he actually ran, in full collegiate costume as he was. His cap blew off – he never noticed it. He began to wave his arms. A crowd around him, unconscious of his presence, were shouting, “Go it, Trinity!” “Yoicks, Caius!” The boats were approaching a very narrow part of the river, the Caius men half a length ahead. The spectators were shouting in a frenzy of excitement, when above the tumult arose the sonorous and stentorian voice of the venerable professor: “Port, Caius, you scoundrel” D—n it, port your helm, man!” and as the shrewd order was instantly obeyed, in a still more energetic voice, “Optime, Johannes!” then suddenly recollecting himself, “God bless me, gentlemen, I have forgotten myself!” and the old gentleman walked off at a round pace, blushing like a girl, amidst the vociferous applause of the students.

We had rather chronicle a great boat-race at Harvard or Yale, or a cricket-match with the United States Eleven, than all the prize poems or the orations on Lafayette that are produced in half a century.

From “The Lost Century of American Football