Grand Army of the Republic

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Grand Army of the Republic

(GAR), organization established by Civil War veterans of the Union army and navy. Principal figures in the founding of the GAR were John A. LoganLogan, John Alexander,
1826–86, American politician, Union general in the Civil War, b. Murphysboro, Ill. He fought in the Mexican War and practiced law in Illinois. A Democrat who supported Stephen A.
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 and Richard J. Oglesby. The first post was formed (Apr. 6, 1866) at Decatur, Ill., and at the first national encampment, held at Indianapolis, Ind., on Nov. 20, 1866, 10 states and the District of Columbia were represented. Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut, the first commander in chief, was succeeded by Logan, who was followed in office by Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. They were the most prominent military men to head the GAR. By 1890, when the GAR reached its peak, more than 400,000 members were reported. The members sought to strengthen the bonds of comradeship, to preserve the memory of their fallen comrades (they secured the general adoption of Memorial DayMemorial Day,
holiday in the United States observed in late May. Previously designated Decoration Day, it was inaugurated in 1868 by Gen. John A. Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans and has since become a day on which all war dead are commemorated.
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 to achieve this purpose), to give aid to soldiers' widows and orphans and to handicapped veterans, and, most of all, to fight for pension increases and other benefits. Although the organization was nonpolitical, GAR members were overwhelmingly Republican and formed a reliable bloc of that party's strength in the years up to 1900. Soldier preference in federal appointments became the rule, and pension legislation was usually enacted by the Republicans with their support in mind. The National Tribune, founded (1877) by George E. Lemon, a powerful pensions attorney of Washington, D.C., kept GAR members posted on pension matters. The organization scored a great victory in 1879 with the passage of the Arrears of Pension Act, which led many more veterans to apply for pensions. Theoretically, only those who suffered disabilities in service were entitled to pensions, but it became the practice for lenient Congressmen to introduce private pension bills. These were almost always granted until Grover Cleveland, the first President to examine the bills critically, found many of them to be fraudulent. The fact that Cleveland was a Democrat further confirmed GAR members in their staunch Republicanism. Auxiliary societies associated with the GAR were the Sons of Veterans (1881), the Women's Relief Corps (1883), and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic (1886). A separate veterans organization, the United Confederate Veterans, was organized in 1889, but its membership (less than 50,000 at its peak) never approached that of the GAR. With the coming of the 20th cent. the GAR declined rapidly in numbers and influence. The 83d and last encampment was also held at Indianapolis, on Aug. 28–31, 1949, with 6 of the 16 surviving members in attendance. The last member of the GAR died in 1956.


See M. R. Dearing, Veterans in Politics: The Story of the G.A.R. (1952).

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References in periodicals archive ?
of Illinois Press, 1991), 91-93; Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy, a94; Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: Univ.
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Memorial Museum Aurora, (217) 522-4373.
Confronted by the dilemma that Americans are made, not born, educators and organizations, such as the Grand Army of the Republic, Women's Relief Corps, and Daughters of the American Republic, campaigned to transform schools, in George Balch's words, into a "mighty engine for the inculcation of patriotism."
At this point applications flooded into the Pension Bureau, helped by a veterans organization called the Grand Army of the Republic that grew from 45,000 members in 1879 to 215,000 by 1885.
Can you imagine the Grand Army of the Republic marching through Richmond, Va., today to keep alive the animosities of the American Civil War?
Stuart McConnell reports on the membership characteristics of three local units for the postwar Grand Army of the Republic among the elite in Philadelphia, among farmers and lumbermen in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and in the shoemaking community of Brockton, Massachusetts.
The Grand Army of the Republic, veterans of the Civil War, held its 83rd and last encampment.
Sherman in an expedition against Meridian, Mississippi (February 1864); appointed commander of the Department of the Gulf (August); mustered out of service (June 1865), he organized the Grand Army of the Republic and was elected its first national commander at Indianapolis (November 1866); elected to the Illinois legislature as a Republican (1867); served as U.S.
The parade will step off from the corner of Broadway and Benton Street, travel north on Broadway, then west on Downer Place to the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall, 23 E.
The senior McCoy had served in the Union Army, and was an active member of the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).
The town hall will follow a traditional Grand Army of the Republic ceremony, which will begin at 11:30 a.m.
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Board of Trustees Meeting, 5:30 p.m., conference room D, 50 Skyline Drive