What is the GAR?
By: Sandi Gorin
A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about a big parade in Glasgow
involving the GAR and it's possible that some of you don't know what
organization was: Here is a blurb from wikipedia:
"The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization
of veterans of the Union
Army who had served in the American Civil War. The successor
is the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). Founded by
F. Stephenson on April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, the organization
based partly on the traditions of Freemasonry, and partly on military
tradition, being divided into "Departments" at the state level and
at the community level; military-style uniforms were worn by its
It reached its largest size in 1890, with 490,000 members. There were
in every state in the U.S., and several posts overseas.
The organization wielded considerable political clout nationwide;
1868 and 1908, no Republican was nominated to the presidency without a
endorsement. The GAR is among the first organized interest groups in
The GAR was active in pension legislation, establishing retirement homes
for soldiers, and many other areas which concerned Union veterans. Their
influence led to the creation of the Old Soldiers' Homes of the late
century which evolved into the current United States Department of
In 1868, General Order #11 of the GAR called for May 30 to be designated
a day of memorial for Union veterans; originally called "Decoration
this later evolved into the U.S. national Memorial Day holiday.
In the 19th century, there was some controversy over the fact that the
membership badge of the GAR closely resembled the Army's version of the
Medal of Honor, causing confusion and animosity among veterans. The
was resolved with a re-design of the latter in 1896.
The organization held an annual "National Encampment" every year from
to 1949; the last member, Albert Woolson, died at the age of 109 in
The GAR also generated several auxiliary organizations (National Woman's
Relief Corps, Ladies of the GAR) some of which are still extant. A
comparable organization for Confederate veterans was the United
There is a GAR cemetery on Seattle, Washington's Capitol Hill, just
of Lake View Cemetery. Established in 1895, it was turned over to the
Department in 1922. 
U.S. Highway 6 is known as the Grand Army of the Republic highway its
... its records went to the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and
badges, flags, and official seal to the Smithsonian Institution.
There were/are many other organizations which hopefully I will cover
of my KYRESEARCH tips in the near future.