Abner Doubleday

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Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 – January 26, 1893) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter, the opening battle of the war, and had a pivotal role in the early fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg was his finest hour, but his relief by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade caused lasting enmity between the two men.

In San Francisco, after the war, he obtained a patent on the cable car railway that still runs there. In his final years in New Jersey, he was a prominent member and later president of the Theosophical Society.

He is known for a once-popular legend that he invented baseball, a claim that he himself never made and for which there is considerable counter-evidence.[1]


Early years

Doubleday was born in Ballston Spa, New York. He was born in a small house on the corner of Washington and Fenwick Street. The family all slept in the attic loft of the one-room house. His grandfather, also named Abner, had fought in the American Revolutionary War. His grandfather on his mother's side joined the Army at 14 and was a mounted messenger for George Washington. His father, Ulysses F. Doubleday, fought in the War of 1812, was a newspaper publisher, a book publisher, and represented Auburn, New York, for four years in the United States Congress.[2] Abner spent his childhood in Auburn and later was sent to Cooperstown to live with his uncle and attend a private preparatory high school. Abner practiced as a surveyor and civil engineer for two years before entering the United States Military Academy[3] in 1838, from which he graduated in 1842, 24th in a class of 56 cadets, and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery.[4] One of the persistent legends of baseball history is that Doubleday invented the game in 1839, although he was in West Point at the time.

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