Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Grand Army of the Republic
Grand Army of the Republic

Grand Army of the Republic

G.A.R. Drum Corps, 1906
Founded in Illinois in 1866, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was the largest national organization of Union Civil War veterans. Chicago G.A.R. posts behaved in many respects like other nineteenth-century fraternal groups, but the organization was also a strong force for military pension reform.

The G.A.R. grew slowly at first, but in the 1880s membership climbed dramatically. The George H. Thomas post, the first in Chicago, was chartered in 1873 and remained the city's largest. By 1890 at least 13 had been chartered, including the John Brown post for African American veterans. The Grand Army Hall, a Civil War museum and G.A.R. meeting place, was a component of the Chicago Public Library building (1897) on Michigan Avenue.

Membership declined with the passing of Union veterans, but as late as 1914 Chicago had 23 posts with a combined roster of over two thousand.

Dearing, Mary R. Veterans in Politics: The Story of the G.A.R. 1974.
McConnell, Stuart. Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865–1900. 1992.