As the Civil War ended, the men who fought and lived together for the length of the war continued to come together for fellowship and support. Several organizations were created to continue these bonds formed by the Civil War. These organizations included the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), the Union Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), and the Union Veteran’s Union. Women also formed sororal organizations like the Dames of the Loyal Legion, the Women’s Relief Corp and the Veteran’s Nurses of the Civil War. These organizations provided aid to veterans and their families, help in obtaining pensions and became political power brokers. The strongest of these organizations was the G.A.R. According to Terry Jones’ book The A to Z of the Civil War, the G.A.R was organized in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, by Union Generals Richard Oglesby and John Logan, along with Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson. It soon became a national organization and by 1890 had over 409,000 members. Membership was open to any honorably discharged veteran of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corp or the Revenue Cutter Service.
According to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the successor of the G.A.R., Monroe County had seven active G.A.R. Posts including woman’s auxiliary units. Each post was named in honor of a deceased veteran, usually from the area. The Monroe posts are listed below.
William A. Bell, Post 10, Dundee – The post was organized on October 9, 1879 and began with eight charter members. By 1890, Talcott Wing reported that the post had 115 members. It is named after Private William Bell who served in the 7th Michigan Infantry. At the Battle of Antietam, he was wounded in both feet and had to have one foot amputated. Bell received a medical discharge on December 5, 1862 and died in Dundee on March 30, 1874. The SUVCWMI Post histories listed several meeting locations including Drew’s Hall, Munger’s, Rawson’s, Hurd’s Hall, the G.A.R. Hall on Main Street and lastly William Bell’s Hall on Tecumseh Street. The first Post Commander was Edwin Gray who enlisted in the 14th New York. The last Commander was George Francisco who was a member of the 11th Michigan. This post was disbanded March 5, 1938.
Wilder Post 55, Ottawa Lake – According to the SUVCWMI, this post was organized on November 21, 1889. The post number of 55 was used for two other posts. There are no available records for who the post was named after. It mustered in with sixteen members and met at Dewey and Co. Hall on Brown and Railroad Streets. The first Post commander was J.E. Albring who served in the 18th Michigan Infantry. The last Post Commander was I.E. Barker who served in the 55th Ohio Infantry. It was disbanded in 1894 with eleven members.
Joseph R. Smith Post 76, Monroe – This post was chartered on September 12, 1882. It was named after Colonel Joseph R. Smith, who was a U.S. Army Brigadier General from Monroe. Smith was wounded twice in the Mexican War. During the Civil War, he was the military commander of Detroit. The original members met at the Floral City Lodge and totaled thirty-two. As the post was organized, details were mapped out including using the name “Custer” as a door password. In November 1882, they moved their meetings to the Armory. When Talcott Wing compiled the History of Monroe County, 113 members were on the roster. It was disbanded in 1936.
Perry Baker Post 200, Carleton – This post was organized on November 15, 1883 with fourteen veterans mustering in. The members sought to name the post after William Tecumseh Sherman but later reconsidered and named it after Perry Baker. Baker was a member of the 4th Michigan Infantry and was captured during the Seven Days Battles at Gaines Mill. He died at Belle Isle Prison from injuries he sustained in the battle. According to Talcott Wing, the first Post Commander was John P. Wallace of the 7th Ohio Cavalry. In 1890, the post held 46 members. It was disbanded in 1917.
Lucius Taylor Post 274, Milan – This Post was organized on September 22, 1884 with 29 charter members being mustered in. It was named after Lucius Taylor who served in the 18th Michigan Infantry and died from disease in Decatur, Alabama, on August 4, 1864. The first Post Commander was Jerome Allen who served in the 1st Michigan Cavalry. It was disbanded in 1932.
Morgan Parker Post 281, Petersburg – The charter for this post was signed on October 18, 1884. Morgan Parker served with the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. He died from disease in 1862 in Louisville, Kentucky. Restcome R. Kirby served as the first Commander. R. R. Kirby served with both the 1st Ohio and the 11th Michigan Cavalry. He became a doctor after the war. According to the SUVCWMI, the last report for this post was filed on December 31, 1923, showing only six members. It was disbanded in 1924.
H.W. Lawton Post 452, Samaria – The Charter for this post was established June 23, 1900. There is no biographical information available for H.W. Lawton. The post had 31 members in 1917. It was disbanded in1920.
If you would like to read more about Civil War Veterans and the G.A.R. please try these books:
Below are the sources used to compile the above histories:
The Grand Army of the Republic Collection of the Monroe County Historical Museum
If you enjoy learning about the Civil War try our book club or lecture series:
Paging through the Civil War Book Club - This is a book club that focuses on the American Civil War. We are currently reading Vicksburg: The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi by Michael Ballard. We will meet to discuss the book on Thursday, May 26 at 7 pm at the Ellis Library and Reference Center. For more information please contact Charmaine Wawrzyniec at 734-241-5277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Learn more about the Civil War - The Monroe County Civil War Round Table, sponsored by the Friends of Ellis, meets the second Thursday of every month, from September through May, at the Ellis Library and Reference Center. Each month a different speaker is invited to share his or her knowledge about specific Civil War topics. This month Judge Terrence Bronson will give a talk on the Confederate Raider CSS Alabama on Thursday, April 14, at 7 pm. All talks are free and open to the public. For more information please contact Charmaine Wawrzyniec at 734-241-5277 or email at email@example.com .