County Coordinator: Debby Beheler
Howard County Indiana USGenWeb Project Military
G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Information
This page contains information about the Civil War Union veterans' organization - the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R). If you have information related to this topic, please contact the Coordinator
In 1866 Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was founded in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson. Thanks to Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's Civil War governor and a co-founder of the GAR, Indianapolis had the honor of hosting the first national meeting or "encampment" in 1866, as well as the last one - the 83rd, in 1949. There were also state encampments - Kokomo hosted the 28th Annual Encampment May 19th- 21st, 1908, as well as the state meeting of the sister organization, the Woman's Relief Corps.
The GAR was designed to preserve camaraderie, assure continued recognition of those who fought for the county, and to "uphold the Constitution". The GAR became a political force as well, in that the organization lobbied for veteran's rights and pensions for war widows and orphans. It also assisted in establishing Soldiers' Homes and was instrumental in getting Memorial (or Decoration) Day recognized as a day to honor the Civil War veterans. Memorial Day was formally established on May 30th, 1868, although previous ceremonies had been held around the country.
Local GAR units were designated as "posts" and assigned numbers within the state "department". Several departments were grouped under regional "jurisdictions". Most Posts also had a name and the rules for naming Posts included the requirement that the honored person be deceased and that no two Posts within the same Department could have the same name.
As membership in the veterans' organization was restricted to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the Revenue Cutter Service who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865, the GAR had a finite lifespan, existing until 1956. The final Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949 and the last member, Albert Woolson died in 1956 at the age of 109 years.
Several organizations allied with the GAR developed in later years and are still relatively active groups: The Woman's Relief Corps , The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), which was organized by the GAR . Members were escorts for their fathers in the later years of the GAR; the SUVCW was the only outside group allowed to march in their parades, other than the Marine Band. An Auxiliary to the SUVCW was also organized and has as its members wives, sisters and daughters of members of the Sons.
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