Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization founded in 1866
by Union Army Surgeon Benjamin Franklin Stephenson. The organization was
originally envisioned as a brotherhood of veterans who were dedicated to
helping other veterans.
The first post was established at Decatur, Illinois in April 1866. Soon after
a second post was organized in Springfield, Illinois, and others began to
emerge throughout the northeastern states. By September of 1866, following
a mass meeting of Civil War veterans in Pittsburgh, the movement began to
spread east with the establishment of GAR posts by ex-union soldiers.
Each post was set up similar to a Union Army encampment. Every post had
"sentries" at the door, in order to go to another post you needed a "transfer;"
members could be "court-martialed" as well as "dishonorably discharged."
The post-commander would act as general officer, and would report to the
departmental commander (assistant Adjutant General), who was in charge of
all the posts in one state. He in turn would report to the national-commander
(Adjutant General). Every post in America was to adopt the same rituals and
The GAR was a powerful political organization that did a lot of patriotic
and social work. It was through the GAR, and the pension lobby, that many
soldiers and their families received pensions. The Grand Army also promoted
the honoring of our military through parades, national encampments, placement
of war memorials, and the establishment of Memorial Day as a national holiday.
The following link provides further detailed information on the GAR posts
in New York: