On a recent tour of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia, I toured the museum in the visitor center. Near the end of the exhibits was a wall of faces of people who fought at the July 27, 1864 engagement.
After reading through the various personas; including general officers down to a 13-year old drummer boy—who already had three years of service by 1864—I came across the following two gentlemen.
One wore Yankee “Blue” and the other Rebel “Red.”
Both had a connection to the game of baseball.
Private Malcolm M. Hornsby was a member of the 18th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted) which was organized in Dallas, Texas on March 15, 1862. After brief service in Indian Territory, the regiment was transferred to Arkansas, where General Paul O. Hebert recommended the unit become dismounted. Most of the unit was captured after the Battle of Arkansas Post on January 11, 1863 after seven days of fighting.
After being exchanged in the spring of 1863, the unit was transferred to the Army of Tennessee where the unit was consolidated with the 17th Texas Cavalry in July of that same year. The combined units would fight the rest of the Civil War as members of the Confederacy’s largest western army.
For Private Hornsby, the war ended shortly before the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, when he was captured on July 22nd. He would spend the rest of the Civil War as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, in Columbus, Ohio. He survives and eventually returns home.
If his last name seems familiar to the baseball aficionados reading this, there is the connection. His grandnephew would be in Winters, Texas on April 27, 1896 and would be named Rogers. Considered one of the greatest hitters to every play major league baseball, Rogers Hornsby would play for 23 years and be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942.
While Rogers would be playing, the son of the former assistant surgeon of the 35th Ohio Infantry would be the commissioner of Major League Baseball. That man’s father, was Abraham H. Landis, whose commitment to keeping his leg in the field hospital led him to hold fellow surgeons at gunpoint to prohibit the amputation from happening.
Organized in Hamilton, Ohio and mustered in with a three-year enlistment on September 20, 1861, serving and fighting in the western theater. When the unit’s term of enlistment was up and the mustering out began between August 26 and September 28, 1864, the veterans joined newer recruits and were transferred to the 18th Ohio Infantry, in which they served until November 1864.
When his son was born on November 20, 1866, Abraham held the significance of Kennesaw close to heart and would name the new addition to the family Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Leaving school at the age of 15, he worked his way up through different professions and became a lawyer in the state of Indiana. He would become personal secretary to the Secretary of State in 1893 and even refused an offer of ambassadorship.
As a respected judge by 1920, Landis was sought after as the American and National League team owners sought to clean up the league. His handling of the famous Black Sox Scandal which happened in 1919 is what Landis is probably most well-known for during his tenure as commissioner. He would hold the position of commissioner for the next 24 years, serving until 1944, when he passed away at the age of 78 on November 25, 1944. A few days later, by special vote, he was elected posthumously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
A neat connection between the sinews of American military and American sports history.