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The Grand Army of the Republic,
the 42nd Indiana, and Other Reunions


History and Organization of the Grand Army of the Republic

Sources
SUVCW--Grand Army of the Republic Web Site
Indiana State Archives, Commission on Public Records

In 1866 Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades. Membership in the veterans' organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR reached its peak membership in 1890 of 409,489, which accounted for forty percent of the Union veterans then living.  The 83rd and last national encampment of the GAR was held in Indianapolis, IN in 1949 with six of the sixteen surviving veterans attending.  The last surviving member of the GAR, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the age of 109 years.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) was created by the Grand Army of the Republic in 1881 to preserve the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and our ancestors who fought to preserve the Union. The SUVCW is a Congressionally-chartered Corporation and is the recognized and legal heir to the Grand Army of the Republic.

Today more than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR -- Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.  Eligibility is open to any male descendants of men who honorably served in the United States military during the Civil War.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MEMBERSHIP TO THE SUVCW

The Organization of GAR Posts in Indiana

The local organization of the Grand Army of the Republic were called  "Posts" and it was to the posts that each man applied for membership to the GAR.  Each post was numbered consecutively within each department. Most posts also had a name and the rules for naming posts included the requirement that the honored person be deceased (usually a distinguished local or national Civil War soldier) and that no two posts within the same department could have the same name. The departments generally consisted of the posts within a state and, at the national level, the organization was operated by the elected "Commandery-in-Chief."  Applications for post charters had to be signed by at least ten qualified veterans, and were signed by the Department Commander and the Assistant Adjutant General.

Upon organization, each local GAR post elected and installed the following officers:  Post Commander (P.C.), Senior Vice-Commander (S.V.C.), Junior Vice-Commander (J.V.C.), Officer of the Day (O.D.), Officer of the Guard (O.G.), Chaplain, Surgeon, Quartermaster (Q.M.), and Adjutant.  Each member of the post was voted into membership using the Masonic system of casting black or white balls (except that more than one black ball was required to reject a candidate for membership). When a candidate was rejected, that rejection was reported to the Department which listed the rejection in general orders and those rejections were maintained in a "Black Book" at each post meeting place.

The Grand Army of the Republic rules and regulations stated that each post was to keep the following records: Post By-Laws, Descriptive Books, Journal of Proceedings, Order Book (recording orders and circulars issued by the post commander), Letter Book, Endorsement and Memorandum Book, and a Black Book recording rejected and dishonorably discharged members.

Upon its dissolution, each post was to turn over its property, including books of record and post papers, to the Assistant Quartermaster General of the Department of Indiana.  Such records were then subject to the disposition of the Department Encampment.  No specific records have survived of the actual transfer of the records to the Indiana State Archives.  However, the catalog cards produced shortly after the records were transferred list the Adjutant General's Office as the parent agency from which the records were transferred.  Some of these Indiana GAR post records survive today in the Indiana State Archives, but it is assumed that the majority of these post records have been lost.

Indiana GAR posts were numbered from 1 to 593, but evidence indicates that when some GAR posts went out of  existence, their numbers were used again when a new post was formed.  As a result, some GAR post numbers were used for more than one post.  The total number of GAR post that existed in Indiana were 636.

The GAR and the 42nd Indiana

Many of the veterans of the 42nd Indiana, like veterans of other Union regiments, became members of the GAR after the war and joined posts in and close to their homes.  Two GAR posts in Indiana were named for members of the 42nd Indiana, which was quite an honor:  The William C. Jackson Post No. 332, located in Dale, IN (Spencer Co.) and The McCarty Post No. 251, located in Alfordsville, IN (Daviess Co.).



Information Wanted

If you have any information about past GAR memberships of 42nd Indiana men, please send me an e-mail.  I would like to hear from you.  I would, at some future date, like to include a list of 42nd GAR membership on these pages.  Send e-mail to: Tim Beckman: tbeckman@42ndindiana.com

Also, I would like information including pictures, rosters, histories, newspaper articles, etc., on all GAR post in the following Indiana counties:  Daviess, Gibson, Perry, Pike, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick. 

Please see the link below for a list of these GAR posts and links to further information on these posts, if available.


Note:  These GAR pages are a "work in progress."  Please check back for updates.

 

Early History of the GAR in Gibson County

GAR Posts of Daviess, Gibson, Perry, Pike, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick Counties of  Indiana (with links to further information, if available)

Other 42nd Indiana GAR Information, Reunion Histories, Pictures, etc.

 

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