Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Honoring Union Soldiers: The GAR and it's Affiliates

The Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization composed of union veterans of the civil war,  was founded April 6, 1866 at Decatur, Illinois.  Amongst other things, the GAR's, influence lead to the creation of Old Soldiers Homes in many states which eventually evolved into the Department of Veterans Affairs.
There were several affiliates to the GAR including the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was made up of women who were wives or blood kin of union veterans, and the Woman’s Relief Corp, Auxiliary to the GAR, which welcomed women who were not related to veterans.   These organizations supported union veterans, their widows and orphans and in addition to other charitable works also erected monuments throughout the nation in honor of union soldiers.  There are a number of these monuments in Idaho.   

                  photo courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society

This statue of President Abraham Lincoln rests on a granite base given to the state of Idaho on February 12, 1815 by the Ladies of the GAR, Department of Idaho.  The statue was originally placed in front of the Old Soldiers Home in Boise.  It was later moved to the VA Hospital.  In 2009 on the 200 anniversary off Lincoln’s birth the statue was relocated and rededicated south of the capitol. The statue designed by Alphonso Pelzer is one of six replica of the oiriginal cast in 1898 and placed in Lincoln, New Jersey.   
This monument, which cost $137, was erected at Pioneer Cemetery in Boise, Idaho and unveiled on May 9, 1896 by the Woman’s Relief Corp of the GAR, Phil Sheridan Post.  It is dedicated to the memory of the unknown union dead.

Another monument dedicated to the unknown dead by the Fremont Post of the Woman’s Relief Corp, Auxiliary to the GAR, is found at Riverside Cemetery in Emmett, Idaho.  

This monument was erected by the Phil Sheridan Post, Woman’s Relief Corp, Auxiliary to the GAR in 1923 in memory of the union veterans of the civil war.  The monument stands prominently over graves of union veterans buried in the “Silent Camp” section of Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Idaho.   

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