June 26, 1819 – January 26, 1893
Abner Doubleday, born one of three sons to Ulysses and Hester Doubleday on June 26, 1819, in Ballston Spa, N.Y., was schooled at Auburn and Cooperstown, N.Y. Doubleday planned a career in civil engineering, but in 1838 he was appointed to West Point. He graduated in 1842 with a commission in the artillery, and served in the Mexican and Seminole Wars. In 1852-53, Doubleday became a member of a commission investigation allegations of fraud during the Mexican War. Doubleday was known for his dignified ande courteous manner and he used no profanity, liquor, or tobacco.
Doubleday was promoted to first lieutenant in 1847 and to captain in 1855. Stationed in Charleston Harbor in 1860-61, Doubleday fired the first Union shot from Fort Sumter after the Confederate ironclad battery bombardment of that fort. Next appointed major of the 17th Infantry in May 1861, Doubleday served in the lower Shenandoah Valley and in the defense of Washington. Later, he became brigadier general of volunteers, assigned to command a brigade in Union Gen. Irvin McDowell’s corps. He saw action on the Rappahannock, at 2d Bull Run, and as commander in the bttles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
In 1863, as major general of volunteers, Doubleday commanded the fighting at Gettysburg. On the first day, Doubleday led the Union troops in their repulse of the Confederate army until reinforcements arrived. Doubleday’s top commander, Gen. George G. Meade, was not, however aware of all of the facts concerning Doubleday’s meritorious service and Doubleday’s division’s credit for the ultimate Union victory on the third day of Gettysburg. Therefore, Doubleday did not earn the permanent command of his division; instead it was given to former West Point classmate John Newton, and Doubleday was returned to a lesser command.
Doubleday retired from active service in 1873 and made his home in New Jersey, where he died twenty years later.
Fascinating Fact: Although controversy exists about Doubleday’s status as the creator of baseball, a 1907 commission, investigating all sides of the issue, gives official credit to him.