The Grand Army of the Republic was first instituted at Decatur, Illinois, as all good members of the Grand Army Family know, its founder being Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson. After the formation of the first post, other posts were instituted in Central Illinois. Shortly afterward, a Committee from Indiana, at the suggestion of our famous Civil War Governor, Oliver P. Morton, visited Dr. Stephenson. They were General Robert S. Foster, Major Oliver Wilson and Captain James R. Carnahan, The Committee told the good doctor they wished to organize in Indiana. He pledged them to secrecy and made available a Ritual that he had prepared for the government of the Grand Army Posts.
The Committee returned to Indianapolis, Indiana wit the Ritual, and took into their confidence a printer, Rollin C. Irwin (afterward a Post Commander, and a loyal and energetic worker in the Geo. H, Thomas Post No. 17 at Indianapolis), He printed the Ritual and the organization of Posts throughout the state was begun by different veteran soldiers. Finally, every county in the State of Indiana had one or more Posts within its boundaries.
The first National G.A.R. Encampment was held at Indianapolis in November, 1866.
The Indiana G.A.R., begun in 1866, lasted until the early 1870's, when it went into a decline until there was but one Post left in the State. This was in the small town of Newtonville in Spencer County. It, too, finally passed from the scene. The Illinois Department held its organization through these crucial years, as did many G.A.R. groups in the eastern states and the mid-west.
In 1879, Morton Post No. 1 of the G.A.R. at Terre Haute, Indiana, applied for a charter from the Illinois Department and received it. Shortly thereafter, Gen. Joe Canby Post 2 at Brazil, Ind., was organized under authority of the Ill. Dept. This was followed by Logan Post No. 3 (later known as Logan-Taylor Post) at Lafayette, Ind; John C. Fremont Post No. 4 at Covington, Ind; Pap Thomas Post 5 at Greensburg, Ind; James H, Emmett Post No. 6, Wabash, Ind; McPherson Post No. 7, Crawfordsville, Ind; Auten Post No. 8 at South Bend, Ind; Gen. Steele Post No. 9 at Rockville, Ind; Captain Floyd Post 10, Annapolis, Ind; Greencastle Post No. 11, Greencastle, Ind; and Sugar Greek Post No. 12; Macksville, Indiana.
These twelve Posts petitioned the National G.A.R. for a charter, and it was granted by the National Headquarters at Dayton, Ohio, 3 October 1879. Jonathan B. Hager was named the first Ind. Dept. Comdr. The organization again spread throughout Indiana until every county was eventually represented by one or more Posts and until there was a total of 592 Posts in the State. Of this total, Indianapolis, our state capitol, had 8 posts.
Like the national figures, the high water mark in membership in Indiana was in 1889 and 1890, when the total membership was reported at 408,489 each of these years.
The Indiana G.A.R. gave to the National organization many officers of high rank in the organization:
Ivan N. Walker, Indpls., Ind., 1895-96
Orlando Somers, Kokomo, Ind., 1917-18
William A. Ketcham, Indpls., Ind., 1920-21
Isaac W. Sharp, Warsaw, Ind., 1944-45.
Five Senior Vc. Commanders-in-Chief:
Ivan N. Walker,1893-94
Irvin Robbins, 1899-1900
Wm. H. Armstrong, 1906-07
Judge Robert W. McBride, 1921-22
Isaac W. Sharp, 1942-43
One Jr. Vc. Commander-in-Chief:
Robert S. Foster, 1866-67
Warren R. King, 1904-05
Stephen I. Brown, 1919-20
Dr. Edward H. Cowen, 1929-30; 1930-31; 1932-33; 1934-35; 1936-37, and
continued in this office until 1942.
Rev. Daniel Lucas, 1898-99
Rev. Daniel Ryan, 1909-10
Rev. J. H. Eppler, 1922-23
Rev. Wm. P. McKinley 1925-26
Irwin Robbins, 1895-96
Judge Robert N. McBride, 1917-18
Mahlon D. Butler, 1920-21
Isaac W. Sharp, 1945-46
John C. Adams, 1947-48, and until his death 17 Feb 1949.
* John C. Adams 1944-45; 1945-46; 1946-47. Died in office 17 Feb 1949.
*The office of Adj. and Quartermaster-General combined, by vote of the 8lst National Encampment at Cleveland, Ohio, 10-14 August 1947.
Three Inspector Generals:
James R. Carnahan, 1880-81; 1881-82
Argos D. Vanosdol, 1885-86
Joseph B. Hennigar, 1940-41
Three Judge Advocate-Generals:
James R. Carnahan, 1882-83
Wm. A. Ketcham 1911-12; 1915-16; 1919-20
Judge Robert W. McBride 1922-23; 1923-24; 1924-25; 1925-26
One national Patriotic Instructor:
Dr. John Stone 1939-40
In May of 1912, the Indiana G.A.R. honored the first Union Soldier from Indiana to be killed in 1861, John Auten of South Bend, and a badge was struck with his likeness thereon, and in his honor, and Issued at the Ind. Dept. Encampment at South Bend that year.
In May, 1916, they did likewise to honor the first Union Officer from Indiana to be killed in 1861, Major J. Smith Gavitt, and a badge was struck with his likeness and in his honor, and issued at the Ind. Dept. Encampment at Evansville, Indiana that year.
Two Indiana (G.A.R. Posts were named in honor of our famous Civil War
Governor, Oliver P. Morton - Morton Post 1 at Terre Haute and Morton Post 216 at
For those interested in viewing portraits of all Past Department Commanders of the Indiana G.A.R., these will be found in one group in the basement picture collection at the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument at Indianapolis. In addition to the great Civil War picture collection thereat, all the battle flags of Indiana regiments turned in at the end of the war will be found here, carefully carded as to history and preserved in glass turn-frames.
The idea, of a monument to the state's warriors of the war of the Rebellion originated with our war governor, O. P. Morton, who incorporated the idea in his message to the General Assembly in 1865. During four years of Civil War, more than 24,000 Hoosier boys gave their lives for the preservation of the Union. It took 10 years to get a "monumental association" going. Another 9 years then passed before activity was resumed. Necessary funds were finally raised, due entirely to the efforts of the Grand Army of the Republic and through the cooperation of the press and citizens of the State. The total cost of the monument exceeded $250,000 and it was formally dedicated 15 May 1902. The Civil War soldier is honored with many statuary groups on the outside as well as the picture and military arms collection within.
Other outstanding places where the Union Civil War veteran and the G.A.R. is memorialized are:
The Indiana State Soldier's Home, Lafayette, Ind. The movement for the creation of a state soldier's home was begun at the Ind. Dept. Encampment at Indianapolis in 1886, and the 1891 encampment appointed a committee to promote such a home. The City of Lafayette and citizens of Tippecanoe County generously gave land and money and the first buildings were ready to be occupied in 1896. A part of the land has been used as a cemetery and many veterans and their wives are interred at this place. The late Winfield Durbin, ex-governor of the state, presented a memorial marker and monument in the cemetery in honor of Civil War veterans. It was dedicated 25 May 1925 with very impressive services.
The Indiana Soldier's and Sailor's Children's Home at Knightstown, Indiana, with 30 brick and 24 frame buildings and 417 acres of land, is located 2 mi. south of Knightstown, on State Road l40. The site was established in 1865 as a State Soldier's Home. During the following years, a few orphans were admitted into a small building on the grounds. After the larger building burned in 1871, all soldiers were transferred to the National Military Home at Dayton, O., and the institution has since concentrated on the training and care of children of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, marines and nurses of all wars of the United States.
The last survivor of the G.A.R. in the State of Indiana was John Christian Adams, who died 17 Feb. 1949, at his hone in Jonesboro, Indiana, aged 101. At the time of his death, plans were in the making for the Department Encampment which was to be held at Marion, Indiana, in June, 1949. The Department heads of the five organizations allied with the Grand Army of the Republic, together with Mrs. Irene Compton, Secretary of the Indiana G.A.R., and various representatives of the City of Marion, worked together and completed plans for the state meeting. Realizing that it could not be called a Grand Army Encampment, it was unanimously agreed that the forthcoming meeting should be called a "Memorial Encampment to the Grand Army of the Republic."
Since that time, the societies of the Indiana G.A.R. family have conducted seventeen annual Memorial Encampments to the G.A.R, the last being at Indianapolis 11-13 Jane 1965. This has included all five organizations of the Grand Army family. Fortunately, relations have been harmonious, and we have never broken apart from each other as, unfortunately, the groups have done at the national level.
The State of Indiana had the single honor to have the first and the last national encampment of the G.A.R. conducted at Indianapolis, its capitol city.
At the 82nd National Encampment of the G.A.R. at Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1948, the comrades in attendance voted to make the 83rd their final encampment, and they wanted to wind up in the same city where they had their beginning so very many years before.
Shortly after the twilight parade, the final "Campfire" was held in the Indiana Roof Ballroom, Indianapolis on 31 August 1949. After reminiscences by comrades present, and the benediction by Rev. Amos L. Boren of Indianapolis, the colors were slowly retired for the last time, to the accompaniment of the U. S. Marine Band rendition of "Retreat," under the able direction of the then director, Major Wm. F. Santelman. We truly believe that there was not a single person in the vast assemblage present who did not realize the great solemnity of the occasion and that we were truly witnessing the end of a grand and glorious era such as no living person will ever see repeated. There were few dry eyes in the audience and the scene was one that certainly every one privileged to be present will carry with him till his dying day.
Since Comrade Adams had deceased six months previously, Indiana G.A.R. was not represented at the final campfire, but it is more than a coincidence that Indiana Department and the National G.A.R. both passed from earthly existence during that memorable year of 1949, Technically, we suppose we could contend that Wick Spence Post 409 at Jonesboro was the last G.A.R. Post in Indiana to pass from existence.
We who have had the great honor and privilege to have known and been associated with veterans of the American Civil War in both their active and declining years and we who have struggled so desperately to keep alive their sacred memory in our various and several communities since their passing, realize the true greatness of the Grand Army of the Republic, and the men associated with it. Otherwise, it would not have commanded our respect, admiration and desire to serve it in our various capacities over the years. To us, the G.A.R. has not, and will not, die in this state so long as one of our group remains to sing its praises and hallow its memory,
"Old Soldiers never die,
They live forever,
Old Soldiers never die,
Let come what may,
Proudly we march along,
Proudly we say:
Old Soldiers never die,
They simply fade away."
The last time the writer heard the above words, they came from the lips of a
great man, the late General Douglas MacArthur, an honored member of the Sons of
Union Veterans of the Civil War. They will certainly bear repeating here.
Respectfully and Sincerely in F., C., & L.,
Argus E. Ogborn,
Past Ind. Department Commander,
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War,
Note: Argus Ogborn was Department of Indiana Commander in 1951 and 1979. His name also appears on the SUVCW Federal Charter of August 20, 1954 (although his first name is misspelled "Angus" in the charter).
Submitted by Tim Beckman with assistance from Alan Teller, PDC
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