After the end of the Civil War, many patriotic fraternal organizations were created to help unite veterans. One of those was the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which welcomed honorably discharged Union veterans. The GAR, founded in 1866 as a national organization, helped form powerful political lobbies to advocate for the rights and compensation of veterans.
The Grand Army of the Republic supported the formation of several allied organizations during its existence, one of which was the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). The SUVCW eventually took over all of the Grand Army of the Republic's operations and became the steward of the GAR history.
There were several GAR posts in Philadelphia, including a large and influential post called Post #2. In 1926, the post decided to turn the organization over to their descendants, and it became the GAR Civil War Museum and Library. The post’s artifacts, books, and memorabilia are now cared for at the museum on Giscom Street in Northeast Philadelphia. Within its collection are some oddities, including tree trucks embedded with cannon balls, a pillowcase stained with President Abraham Lincoln’s blood, and Old Baldy, the preserved head of the horse ridden by Union General George G. Meade.
HSP has two small collections of records from local GAR posts: Courtland Saunders Post No. 21 (#1574) and Philip R. Schuyler Post, No. 51 (#1825). Our library also contains published histories on the GAR. The Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library in Philadelphia holds records for many Philadelphia posts of the GAR. See its website www.garmuslib.org for a list of related collections.
Image: Personal war sketches, manuscript volume (circa 1880s)