The Children’s Wargame 1898

Bridlington Free Press, Friday April 22, 1898

The Children’s Wargame

How great the war fever is in New York may be judged from the fact that even children in the streets have taken to playing a game called “War”. It seems to be an adaptation of the old-fashioned “Hop-Scotch” for the board is marked out on the pavement.

The stone has to be kicked out into the little squares at the side of the board, one of which is called Spain and the other the United States. For each point gained a portion of a soldier’s  anatomy is added, until a roughly drawn regiment, armed with straight lines for guns, has been created. The game is said to be exceedingly popular.  

Taken From the Bridlington Free Press, Friday April 22, 1898

A little confusing as a street game but intriguing. This press clipping from the British Newspaper Archive (c/o Find My Past)  is about an unusual street “Wargame” adopted by New York children during the Spanish American War in 1898.

The Hopscotch element may be a little energetic for COW (the Conference of Wargamers)  and Wargames Developments members in their ever enterprising social games after dinner, often featured on WD members blogs. None of us are getting any younger!

Added to the street Hopscotch element, the drawing part of the game is  strangely reminiscent of the spelling game Hangman, adding a stroke or drawn line of the completed figure to complete a Regiment, soldier by soldier,   instead of the Hangman dangling figure on a gibbet.

It shows how children playing in the street in New York have picked up the background story of the Spanish American War.

The kicking out of the stone marker into a side square marked Spain or America to score points and then draw another line of a soldier links to this Wikipedia Hopscotch article mention:

“Although the marker (stone) is most often picked up during the game, historically, in the boy’s game, the marker was kicked sequentially back through the course on the return trip and then kicked out.”  I don’t remember this bit at school.

American Hopscotch pattern 1900, 
From Beard, D.C. (1907). The Outdoor Handy Book: For the Playground, Field, and Forest. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. pp. 356–357.

This Wikipedia article also features an American Hopscotch pattern c. 1900,  far more complex than the English ones I remember at school.

Cuban children playing Hopscotch or “Pon” in the street (image source: James Emery /  Wikipedia)

The Wikipedia Hopscotch article also shows a modern photo of Cuban street children playing Hopscotch, ironic in that Cuba was one of the issues or causes of the Spanish American War of 1898.–American_War

What was on the rest of the page … whatever happened to Kaiser Frank Josef? Bridlington Free Press Friday April 22 1898.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, December 2017.