The Grand Army of the Republic and Kindred Societies
The history of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) emanates from
the numerous proceedings and reports they have issued. An understanding
of the official publications of the GAR and its auxiliary organizations
is essential for a thorough understanding of the organization. Of
primary importance are the national journals of the GAR. The Proceedings
of Annual Meetings of the National Encampments, Grand Army of the
Republic (sometimes entitled Journal of Annual Encampment.
. .; LC call number: E462.1.A17) were published annually
at various cities, from 1877-1949. The GAR's state records are usually
labeled with places of publication that varied from year to year.
Information about auxiliary and affiliated Civil War organizations
is located in the Journals of Proceedings of the Sons of Veterans,
USA, for 1884-1899 (LC call number: E462.9.A12), for 1884-1899,
the Journals of the National Conventions of the Woman's Relief
Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic (LC call
number: E462.15.M3), for 1883 to 1900, as well as in scattered Journals
for state departments and in the Proceedings of the National
Conventions (LC call number: E462.17.N5) of the Ladies of
the GAR for 1886-1888, 1893-1894, and 1896-1897.
Next in importance are the specialized magazines and newspapers,
often published by the societies themselves as official organs,
while others were published as private ventures. The most valuable
example of the second type for the northern Civil War organizations
is the National Tribune (Washington, D.C., 1877- ),
the premier Union veterans' newspaper of the post-Civil War era.
Also useful are the American Tribune (Indianapolis
1880-1906); the Grand Army Journal (Washington, DC);
the Grand Army Record (Boston 1885-1901); the Grand
Army Review , (New York, 1885- ); the Grand Army Sentinel
(Nashville, Tenn. 1885-86); the Great Republic (Washington,
D.C. 1866-68); the Soldier's Record (Madison, Wis.,
1866-76); the Veteran (Columbus, Ohio 1881-83); and,
the Soldier's Friend (New York, 1864-70). In "To
Care For Him Who Has Borne the Battle": Research Guide to Civil
War Material in the National Tribune (Jackson, KY: History
Shop Press, 1995) Richard A. Sauers has indexed the voluminous literature
of GAR articles and other Civil War-related material in the National
Tribune from its inception in 1877 through December 1884.
Future volumes will continue the guide through the 1940s.
For a commentary on veterans and their political importance in
the period after the Civil War a number of collections in the Manuscript
Division of the Library of Congress provide salient material
for the study of veterans' political activity. Among these are George
Brinton McClellan, (MSS, papers 1826-1885); and William T. Sherman,
(MSS, papers 1820-1891). Also, available in the Manuscript Division
are the papers of American presidents which include information
concerning the pension lobby and the GAR. Notable are the papers
of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield,
Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and William
Among pertinent primary sources are government documents. The debates
in the Congressional Record frequently detail the political
role of the GAR, especially during the controversy of 1887. House
Report, no. 2683, 48th Cong., 2nd sess., (1885) documents
the inter-relationships among the claims agents, the Grand Army,
and pension legislation.
Robert B. Beath's History of the Grand Army of the Republic
(New York: Bryan, Taylor & Company; Cincinnati: The Jones Brothers
Publishing Co., 1888; LC call number: E462.1.A19 B26) was considered
the standard resource because it was the only major history of the
organization. The book derives its validity from the fact that Beath
was an early member and subsequent commander-in-chief of the GAR.
His book is extremely useful for its coverage of political activities,
sketches of the first officials, and accounts concerning the founding
of related Civil War organizations.
More recently, Mary Rulkottet Dearing's Veterans in Politics:
The Story of the G. A. R. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1952; LC call number: E462.1.A19 D4), a revision of her Ph.D.
dissertation, "Civil War Veterans in Politics' (written under the
name Marie L. Rulkotter, University of Wisconsin, 1938), is especially
noteworthy for its coverage, in the bibliographic essay, of several
collections in the Manuscript Division containing information about
veterans. Dearing's monograph surveys activities of the GAR between
1865 and 1900, and concentrates on the veterans as a political force
and pressure group. Stuart McConnell's Glorious Contentment:
The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1992; LC call number: E462.1.A7 M34 1992)
analyzes the membership, rituals, and activities of the GAR in order
to explore how Union Army veterans, most of whom were white and
native born, remembered the Civil War and responded to late nineteenth-century
social changes. Although limited to one geographical area, Fran
H. Heck's The Civil War Veteran in Minnesota Life and Politics
(Oxford, Ohio: The Mississippi Valley Press, 1941; F606.H4) offers
comprehensive treatment of the social and political significance
of the GAR at the state level. Additionally, Elmer Edward Noyes's,
"A History of the Grand Army of the Republic in Ohio from 1866 to
1900" (Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1945) bases his
analysis of the functioning of the order as an organization upon
unpublished official records and printed proceedings.
Specialized aspects of veterans' activities have received extensive
treatment: the GAR's role during Reconstruction, for example, is
treated in W. A. Russ's Jr., "Was There Danger of a Second Civil
War During Reconstruction?" Mississippi Valley Historical
Review, XXV, (June 1938, 39-58). A discussion of the impetus
for veterans' drive for land grants appears in James B. Hedges's,
"The Colonization Work of the Northern Pacific Railroad," Mississippi
Valley Historical Review, XIII (December 1926, 311-342).
The pension issue is explained in John W. Oliver's History
of the Civil War Military Pensions 1861-1885 (Madison, Wis.,
1917; LC call number: H31.W62 Vol. 4, No. 1) and in William H. Glasson's,
Federal Military Pensions in the United States, (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1918; UB373.G534). Additional studies
of the relationships among the GAR, the Republican Party, and pension
legislation appear in articles by Donald L. McMurry, "The Soldier
Vote in Iowa in the Election of 1888," Iowa Journal of History
and Politics, XVIII (July 1920; 335-356) and "The Political
Significance of the Pension Question, 1885-1895," Mississippi
Valley Historical Review, XIII, (December 1926; 343-346).
Wallace E. Davies explains the GAR's relations with President Grover
Cleveland and gives special attention to the episode of the rebel
flag order, in "Was Lucius Fairchild a Demagogue?", Wisconsin
Magazine of History, (June 1948; 418-428) and examines "The
Problem of Race Segregation in the Grand Army of the Republic" in
the Journal of Southern History, XIII, (August 1947;
354-372) and also chronicles what gave rise to patriotric organizations
(including the GAR) and their appeal for leadership in Patriotism
on Parade: The Story of Veterans' and Hereditary Organizations in
America, 1783-1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
Paul Joseph Woods's, "The G.A.R. and Civil Service" (Ph.D. dissertation,
University of Illinois, 1941) is a helpful survey of the efforts
for federal veterans' preference legislation at the national level.
The standard account of soldiers' homes is Judith G. Cetina's, "A
History of Veterans' Homes in the United States: 1811-1930" (Ph.D.
dissertation, Case Western Reserve University, 1977). Larry M. Logue's,
"Union Veterans and Their Government: The Effects of Public Policies
on Private Lives," Journal of Interdisciplinary History,
22 (1992; 411-434) assesses the social effects of pensions and soldiers'
Printed personal narratives, reminiscences, letters, and diaries
of various military and political leaders cast light on specific
points and events and give perspective to the veterans' movement.
Among them are such works as: Mary Simmerson Logan's Reminiscences
of a Soldier's Wife: An Autobiography (New York: C. Scribner's
Sons, 1913; E661.L83); George Brinton McClellan's McClellans'
Own Story: The War for the Union (New York: C. L. Webster
& Company, 1887 ; E467.1.M2 M12); and Mary Harriet Stephenson's
Dr. B. F. Stephenson, (Springfield, Ill: The H. W.
Rokker Printing House, 1894; LC call number: E462.1.A19 S8).