Post Civil War
Shown here: Grand Army of the Republic and Ladies of the GAR. Daughters of Union
Veterans. Sons of Union Veterans and Ladies Auxiliary to the SUV. Women's Relief
Corps. The officer insignia (lower left) are medal hangers.
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:
Sons of the Grand Army of the
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:
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:
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
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:
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:
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."
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:
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
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:
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.
"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.