Post Civil War Military Orders

Top Row:  Grand Army of the Republic and Ladies of the GAR, Woman's Relief Corps Presidentís Jewels.

  Bottom Row Left:  Daughters of Union Veterans, President and member Jewel.

Bottom Center:  Officer insignia used as medal hangers.  Small Major General insignia is in 14K gold.  The black background on the Colonelís insignia designates headquarters while the yellow background of the First Lieutenant's insignia designates infantry.  Lapel pins for the Ladies of the GAR, WRC, and Sons of Union Veterans.

Bottom Right:  Ladies Auxiliary to Sons of Union Veterans Department President. Woman's Relief Corps membership jewel with service bars totaling sixty years.

History of the Grand Army of the Republic - GAR

The history of the GAR has been told many times. The history was first formalized,1888, in Robert Beath's History of the GAR and from this source you can trace the various short versions that were extracted and published over and over. Recently the papers of the founder, Dr. B.F. Stephenson, were uncovered. These papers were not available when the Beath history was written, because Beath assumed all of Dr. Stephenson's papers were burned by his wife, following Stephenson's death in 1871. Beath had few of the early GAR headquarter papers because the records up to 1868 "were in an imperfect condition" when turned over to Adjutant-General Chipman, and during a great fire in Boston, 1872, all the books and records up to that time were burned. The discovery of the Stephenson papers and the original letter-book of the GAR, in Stephenson's own hand, has given new insight into the early history of this great union veteran organization.

Dr. B.F. Stephenson founded the GAR in 1866. The author is convinced he was alone in it's concept, using many friends to proof read his organizational papers and constitution and to lend guidance. The story of Rev. Rutledge, as a co-founder, described by Beath, is without merit. The name of Rev. Rutledge does not appear in any of the early papers or letters. Dr. Stepenson's daughter Mary, in her book about her father, also discredits the Rutledge story. Dr. Stephenson established the first Post in a printing office at Decatur, Illinois, because this group of veterans were about to print his constitution and he wanted them to become members before seeing the document.

The Department of Illinois was established, and during the first encampment of this department many veterans from surrounding states attended. The organization spread quickly, and soon posts were formed from Mass. to California. Dr. Stephenson was not elected National Commander at the first National Encampment, Indianapolis,1866, but his early correspondence clearly shows he assumed the position prior to this encampment, as letters were signed, B.F. Stephenson, Commander of the G.A.R.U.S..

General Logan was elected Commander-in-Chief in 1869, moving the National Headquarters to Washington, D.C. At this point, Dr. Stephenson's influence had diminished, and the distance between him and the circle of influence in Washington, almost eliminated him from the GAR . He had moved back to Petersburg, Illinois, re-establishing an old practice and taking care of his parents. Both his mother and father passed away during this time and certainly dominated his attention. Dr. Stephenson was also in poor health, having financial problems with a loss of his investments, and local debts mounting. In his papers are letters pleading for more time to pay debts and a note of foreclosure from the sheriff. The sheriff was about to take his horse and buggy, and other property. In one letter, Dr. Stephenson asked that they might show some mercy, and let him keep his horse and buggy, as they were necessary to the practice. This transfer of power from the founder and those around him, to politicians in Washington, is one of the most important changes in the organization's history. This is a significant change during the early years of the GAR.

The GAR almost disappeared during the early 1870's, and many departments ceased to exist. About 1875, new leadership provided the platform for renewed growth. In 1890, the GAR reached it's largest membership, just over 490,000 members and in 1949, six surviving members permanently closed the GAR. During the active years of the GAR, the organization had a great influence on politics, law, and social areas of the United States. Memorial Day was established as a national holiday, five Presidents were elected that were GAR members, most of the Governors in the northern states were members, and veteran pensions were given to the union veterans. Over one fifth of the national budget went toward veteran pensions at one point. The National Encampments were yearly meetings that had attendance of over 25,000 veterans in 1890, 91 and 92. In many cases it was impossible to be elected to public office if you were not a veteran of the Civil War. The GAR membership was often reminded that politics were not to be a part of the organization, but politics was a major issue throughout the history of the GAR. Mary Dearing wrote the book Veterans in Politics in the mid 1950's, and it stands as the definitive work on veteran political activities.

The Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library can be found on the web at:

http://garmuslib.org/

Sons of the Grand Army of the Republic

The Sons of the Grand Army of the Republic has been formed and its first chapter is chartering. Any man age 16 or older who has either a direct or collateral (i.e. blood-related uncle) who fought for the Union in the Civil War may join. Unlike the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Songs of the G.A.R. is NOT a fraternal organization; nor does it allow for "associates", which are non-hereditary members. Junior status is given boys up to age 16. Contact Keith D. Ashley, Commander-in-Chief, 34465 Crew Road, Pomeroy, OH 45769 (PH: 740-992-7874) E: Roushhistorian@yahoo.com
 


 

UNION VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS AND ALLIED ORDERS OF THE G.A.R.

 THE SONS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR  

This is a fraternal, benevolent, patriotic and historical society of the male descendants of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Revenue Cutter Service of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Founded by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 12, 1881, as the "Sons of Veterans of the United States," the order is dedicated to the principles of "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty," the principles of the GAR. It was chartered and incorporated by an act of Congress in 1954. The last surviving member of the GAR, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the venerable age of 109 years. Comrade Woolson deeded all of the records, property and traditions of the GAR to the SUVCW in 1954, as per the wishes of the GAR at its last encampment held in Indianapolis, Indiana in August 1949.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) adopted its present name in 1925. The order still exists today, with 6,300 Brothers organized in 209 Camps (lodges) in 25 Departments (state organizations) governed by a Commandery-in-Chief (national organization). It was officially recognized by the GAR as being the legal heir and representative of the GAR, its traditions and aims. As such, the order uses the GAR's traditions and rituals for the conducting of camp meetings and the initiation of new members, as well as the Masonic blackball system of voting on the admission of applicants for membership.

The order publishes The Banner as its official magazine. The SUVCW also accepts nonhereditary members who have no relatives who served in the Union armed forces during the American Civil War as Associate Members. The SUVCW's uniformed military branch is called the Sons of Veterans Reserve, garbed in Union Army blue uniforms and Civil War-era weapons, and serves as an honor guard for parades and patriotic observances. 
The SUVCW enjoys warm relations with the other Allied Orders of the GAR: Auxiliary to the SUVCW, Woman's Relief Corps, Ladies of the GAR, and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The order has an auxiliary called the Auxiliary to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1883 as the Ladies Aid Society. Its membership is open to female descendants ages 12 and older of members of the SUVCW. It too is dedicated to the principles of " Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty," and adopted its present title in 1944.  It is open to female descendants of Union veterans,
and wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of SUVCW members.

It is organized in Auxiliaries (chapters), Departments (State organizations) and a National Encampment.  They also have an excellent website located at:

 http://suvcw.org/ 



MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES

The Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) was founded in Philadelphia, PA on April 20, 1865, by a group of Union Army officers shortly after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination to serve an honor guard for the president and to help protect the United States from possible insurrection.

It originally limited its membership to officers of the Union Army and Navy who had been honorably discharged for service in the American Civil War.  At its peak of membership, the order had 8,000 "Companions," including Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Philip B. Sheridan, George B. McClellan, George Armstrong Custer, and Winfield Scott Hancock, and Admiral David Farragut. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley were Companions of the order.

Organized in Commanderies, State Commanderies, and the governing body called the National Commandery, the headquarters of MOLLUS are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It publishes a quarterly magazine, The Loyal Legion Historical Journal. This patriotic order admits both hereditary members and associates (nonhereditary) members, and enjoys a warm relationship with the SUVCW.

The order has a ladies auxiliary, the National Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States, organized on May 11,1899 in Chicago, Illinois.  It is organized in State Societies throughout the United States of America, and 
admits female descendants of Union Officers and wives of MOLLUS members.  More information is available on their website at: 

 http://suvcw.org/mollus.htm 


DAUGHTERS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865

This patriotic, benevolent and educational women's society was established on May 30, 1885, at Massillon, Ohio, for female hereditary descendants of Union veterans of the American Civil War. It adopted the title Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1925, and its present designation in 1944.

It is organized in tents (chapters), Departments (state organizations) and a Headquarters based in Springfield, Illinois. Its principles are those of the GAR and SUVCW, "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty." It retains warm relations with the other "Allied Orders of the GAR," namely the SUVCW, the Auxiliary to the SUVCW, the WRC, and the Ladies of the GAR.  More information is available on their website at:  

http://www.duvcw.org/



NATIONAL WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS, AUXILIARY TO THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

This patriotic, benevolent and educational women's society was organized on July 26, 1883, at the GAR's national encampment in Denver, Colorado. The Womens Relief Corps (WRC)  was then recognized as the official auxiliary of the GAR. It requires no hereditary requirements for Union Army or Navy ancestry for membership in the society, and admits any loyal American woman into its ranks.

The society was incorporated on September 7,1962 by an act of Congress. Its motto is the same as the GAR's, "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty."

The society maintains a national headquarters and museum in Springfield, Illinois. It is composed of 2,360 members in 18 Departments, 7 Detached Corps, and 15 Members-at-Large chapters. It retains warm relations with the other "Allied Orders of the GAR," the SUVCW, the Auxiliary to the SUVCW, the Daughters of the SUVCW, and the Ladies of the GAR.



LADIES OF THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

Founded on July 25, 1883, as the Loyal Ladies League at the GAR's national encampment in Denver, Colorado, the Ladies of the GAR lost out to the National Womens Relief Corps as being recognized as the official ladies auxiliary to the GAR. It adopted its present title in November 1886. Its motto is the same as the GAR, "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty."

Organized in Circles (chapters) and Departments (state organizations), the Ladies of the GAR admit only female hereditary descendants of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Revenue Cutter Service. The society enjoys warm relations with the other "Allied Orders of the GAR," the SUVCW, the Auxiliary to the SUVCW, the Daughters of the SUVCW, and the WRC.  The Ladies of the GAR host a wonderful website at the link below:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~nlgar/home.html



CONFEDERATE VETERANS AND HEREDITARY SOCIETIES

UNITED CONFEDERATE VETERANS

The United Confederate Veterans (UCV) was established on June 10, 1889, in New Orleans, Louisiana by a group of Confederate Army veterans as a fraternal, benevolent and mutual assistance organization for the men who served in the Confederate armed forces during the "War Between the States," as the south refers to the American Civil War. The society was organized in local Camps (lodges), Departments (state organizations) and was instrumental in establishing several Confederate monuments and veterans homes throughout
the southern part of the United States of America. It held annual encampments (conventions) up until its disbandment.

The last three survivors of the American Civil War were members of the UCV: John Salling of Slant, Virginia; Walter W. Williams, of Franklin, Texas and William Lundy, of Laurel Hill, Florida.



UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) was first established on September 10, 1894, in Nashville, Tennessee as the National Association of Daughters of the Confederacy. This historical, patriotic, benevolent and educational society adopted its present title in 1895 at its second meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The society was incorporated in 1919 in Washington, DC.

The society admits to membership all women, 16 years of age or older, who are direct descendants (lineal or collateral) of honorably discharged veterans of the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America, or those who served the cause of the Confederacy.

The society is organized in local Chapters and Divisions (state
organizations), governed by a President General, with a national headquarters located in Richmond, Virginia. Its motto is "Love, Live, Pray, Think, Dare" and is expressed by a red five-pointed star with a cotton boll superimposed on it, with the words of the motto on the points of the star. The society publishes The UDC Magazine. The UDC enjoys warm relations with the other hereditary Confederate societies, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Military Order of the Stars and Bars.

The Children of the Confederacy is an auxiliary of the UDC. It is for male or female descendants of male or female Confederate ancestors who served the cause of the Confederacy honorably, or descendants of UDC or Sons of Confederate Veterans members, from infancy through age 18. It is organized in Chapters affiliated with local UDC Chapters.  They also have an excellent website at:

http://www.hqudc.org/ 



SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS

This historical, educational, benevolent and patriotic society was first organized on July 1, 1896, in Richmond, Virginia. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) was an auxiliary to the United Confederate Veterans, and is open to all male descendants of the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America, 12 years of age or older.

The SCV is organized in Camps (lodges), Divisions (state organizations), and a General Executive Council (national organization).  The SCV publishes The Confederate Veteran as its national journal. The society enjoys warm relations with the other Confederate hereditary organizations, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Children of the Confederacy.

They have an excellent website with more information at:

http://www.scv.org/ 



MILITARY ORDER OF THE STARS AND BARS

The Military Order of the Stars and Bars admits to membership only male descendants of ancestors who served in the Confederate officers corps or elected or appointed members of the executive branch of the Confederate government.

The order was established on August 30, 1938, in Columbia, South Carolina by seventeen veterans who served as Confederate officers and forty-seven men who were descendants of Confederate officers. Originally known as the Order of the Stars and Bars, the order adopted its present title at its convention in Memphis, Tennessee in 1976.

The order takes its name form the first official flag of the Confederate States of America, the "Stars and Bars."  It uses five rituals for the initiation of new members, benediction, roll call of honor, graveside services of departed comrades, and memorial services.

The order is organized in local Chapters, Societies (state organizations) and three Departments (regions) called the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Trans Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee. It is governed by a Commander General. The orders publishes Officer's Call as its national newsletter.

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A special "Thanks" to Brother Bart P. Snarf who provided the pictures of the above jewelry and to Brother Denis P. McGowan who provided the history of these Orders.  Brother Denis P. McGowan is a dedicated fraternalist and student of the history of American fraternal organizations.

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