This English game of chase and tag that was banned in the 1300s by King Edward III. Object of the Game: The team with the most prisoners at the end of the time limit wins. • You will need: A minimum of ten players A stick or chalk Large playing area • How to play: The group needs divided in half and a line of chalk was placed down the middle between the two teams. About 20-30 feet behind each team a large square (prison) was drawn on the ground using chalk. Each team picked one person to be the prisoner of the other team (usually someone who could run fast). Then each team would try to free their prisoner by sending a team member to the prison through the opposing team to bring him/her back without being captured by a member of the opposing team. If the person attempting to rescue their own prisoner made in to the prison through the opposing team without being caught, he/she was safe while in the prison and could pick their own time to run with the prisoner back to their own side of the line. If the team member was caught by the opposing team, they also became a prisoner needing rescue. So each team was busy both trying to rescue their own prisoners and protect the prisoner(s) from the opposite side from being rescued. At the end of time, the team with the most prisoners won.
Frances Hunter tells us that "Like most young men, the members of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery were a sporting & competitive lot. This band of tough frontiersmen, almost all under the age of 35, liked to test their mettle against the people they met along the way. This included shooting, hunting, horsemanship, & footraces. It also includes games that have been all but forgotten.
"In June 1806, the Corps was camped near the Chopunnish or Nez Perce Indians, waiting for the snows to melt enough to recross the Rocky Mountain, when a lively round of games took place. On June 8, 1806, Lewis wrote in his journal:several foot rarces were run this evening between the indians & our men. the indians are very active; one of them proved as fleet as 〈our best runner〉 Drewer & R. Fields, our swiftest runners. when the racing was over the men divided themselves into two parties & played prison base, by way of exercise which we wish the men to take previously to entering the mountain; in short those who are not hunters have had so little to do that they are geting reather lazy & slouthfull.— after dark we had the violin played & danced for the amusement of ourselves & the indians.—
"Prison base (or prisoner’s base, as it is more commonly called) is an old game in which two teams are divided by a line drawn in the dirt between the two teams. About 20 or 30 feet in back of each team a large square (prison) is drawn on the ground. Each team picks one person to be the prisoner of the other team (usually the fastest runner). Then each team tries to free their prisoner by sending a team member to the prison through the opposing team to bring the prisoner back without getting captured by a member of the opposing team. If the person attempting to rescue their own prisoner makes it to the prison through the opposing team without being caught, he is safe while in the prison & can pick his own time to run with the prisoner back to their own side of the line. If the team member is caught by the opposing team, they also became a prisoner needing rescue. So each team is busy both trying to rescue their own prisoners & prevent the prisoners from the opposite side from getting rescued. At the end of the game, the team with the most prisoners wins. Unfortunately, Lewis & Clark did not record whether the Corps of Discovery or the Nez Perce won the day.
"The next day, June 9, Clark reported, “more our party exolted with the idea of once more proceeding on towards their friends & Country are elert in all their movements & amuse themselves by pitching quates, Prisoners bast running races &c—.”