What kind of billiards did Civil War soldiers play?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012

Billiards is an ancient sport but most forms of the cue sports played today are mostly 20th Century games. Prior to the invention of the cue stick in the late 1600s the ball was hit with a mace. Shakespeare mentioned billiards.

It appears that the cue sport game of choice during the Civil War era was "English Billiards" which is played with three balls and six pockets. Snooker was popular in England by this time but the twenty-two ball game was not very popular in the United States. In the 1870s "American Four-ball" with four balls and four pockets started to replace the three ball game. I am not sure billiards was considered a gentleman's game or more of a game for the common man. I also am not sure where most billiard tables were located. Has anyone seen if women of the Civil War era played billiards?
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First Sergeant
Dec 30, 2016
Manassas VA
The Clampett's had a billiard room. There was a billiard head mounted on the wall. The fancy eatin' table even had pot passers. This of course was during the 1960's.


Jul 6, 2020
Philly Suburbs
I actually came across the owner of a Billiard Saloon in the 1860 census. It must have been a reputable occupation - he was a noteworthy citizen and ended up as the Captain of a company in 1864.