Grand Army of the Republic

Grand Army of the Republic shield - cemetery symbolThe Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization of honorably discharged Union Civil War veterans. Some of their rituals were based on Freemasonry. The GAR was founded in 1866 by Benjamin Franklin Stephenson in Decatur, Illinois. By 1890 they had 409,000 members. The GAR was involved in charity and politics, and they lobbied for soldiers homes and pensions. They also began the tradition of Decoration Day on May 30th, now called Memorial Day. Five presidents were members of the GAR: Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. The last GAR member, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at age 109 (although census research indicates he may have been 106 or 108). He was also the last undisputed surviving Civil War veteran on either side.

For help finding Civil War records see: Online Civil War Records, Indexes and Rosters of Soldiers

Grand Army of the Republic - Union Civil War veterans - cemetery emblem

6 Responses to Grand Army of the Republic

  1. Jo Henderson says:

    Does anyone know what symbolism there is in a whie porcelaind tubular column, no open top, with GAR on the top of the collumn. Am looking for information for a cemetery book of readings in the North Hills area of Pennsylvania. Thank you.

  2. charron christy says:

    I’m looking fo information on William Sharp;Tillman Sharp and Lewis Baird who fought in the Civil War
    Thank you so much.

    Charron Christy

  3. joe says:

    Hello Christy,
    You can find some ideas for researching specific Civil War soldiers online at:

    Online Civil War Indexes, Records and Rosters of Soldiers

  4. Jodi Sweere says:

    Some of my civil war era ancestors were members of the GAR.

    Their graves have staked brass GAR markers:

  5. carroll says:

    I found a cufflink with two men facing one another,a child and a woman (?) and two flags. On the edge it says “Grand Army of the 0f the Republic” Dated 1865 I think—very small writing. Any info appreciated.

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