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 The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (S.U.V.C.W.)

G.A.R. Memorial Flag Holders as a History and Genealogy Research Tool

Many of the older and heavily rusted iron, star-shaped flag holders marking graves of Civil War veterans found today in local cemeteries, read: Post (number) G.A.R. These markers were furnished by the various G.A.R. posts of which the veteran most likely was a member. They were placed before the county provided similar markers for veteran’s graves. Some believe that these old pieces of rusted iron are unsightly today and that they should be replaced; others, that their affiliation with the G.A.R. has antiquarian value and should remain where they were placed long ago. For us, they have a research value. The tables below may guide you in determining where the veteran lived prior to his or her death.

Brief History of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)(1)

In 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades. Membership in the veterans' organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956. (1)

Gen. John A. Logan was its second national commander. It was he who gave his famous Order Number Eleven (not to be confused with the Civil War Order Number Eleven). On May 5, 1868 he ordered that all graves of Union soldiers be decorated and thus the old Decoration Day was born. (2)

The objects to be accomplished by this organization are as follows: (3)

  1. To preserve and strengthen those kind and fraternal feelings which bind together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion, and to perpetuate the memory and history of the dead.
  2. To assist such former comrades as need help and protection, and to expend needful aid to the widows and orphans of those who have fallen.
  3. To maintain true allegiance to the United States of America, based upon a paramount respect for, and fidelity to the national constitution and laws; to discountenance whatever tens to weaken loyalty, laws; and to encourage the spread of universal liberty, equal rights, and justice to all men.
Bradford County, Pennsylvania G.A.R. Posts, 1867 to 1878(1),(3)
see Post 154
Maj. Spaulding Post
Granville Cen
* Saxton Post
17 Jun 1867
Reorganized 1 Jan 1874. Watkins Post
22 Aug 1877
Stevens Post
New Albany
26 Jun 1877
Swarts Post
13 Sep 1877
Jackson Post; Madill Post
20 Dec 1877
Hurst Post (Camptown)
16 Nov 1877
Ingham Post
11 Jul 1868
***; Reorganized at Burlington
E. Smithfield
25 Apr 1868
Reorganized 8 Aug 1873; Phelps Post
5 Sep 1868
Reorganized as Post 33, 9 Aug 1876; Gustin Post
1 Feb 1870
Perkins Post
7 Nov 1873
Gilmore Post
* Sgt H. Mallory Post
Luthers Mills
* Nelson Post
* Kellogg Post
* Eames Post

* Not included in Craft’s list (3)

** 115 Gen John A. Logan Post, Philadelphia (1)

*** 119 Alfred Shibler Post, Greensboro (1)

Tioga County, Pennsylvania G.A.R. Posts (1)

Gen. George Mansfield Post
A.J. Sofield Post; H.P Kimball Post
H.J. Brown Post
R.P. Babcock Post
George Cook Post 
Article about formation
Little Marsh
Alfred Toles Post
Capt. Phil. Holland Post
Etz Post
Cpl. C.W. Deming Post
J. Edgar Parkhurst Post
Capt. E.R. Backer Post

Chemung County, New York is not included here; the web page containing New York Posts does not list them by county. The author is not familiar enough with the towns and villages in Chemung County to cull them from the state list; however, should you like to review the New York posts, go here:

Brief History of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW)(1)

In 1881 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership, but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as Associates. This practice continues today.

Many GAR Posts sponsored Camps of the SV. In 1925 the SV name was changed to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), under which its federal charter was issued in 1954. The SUVCW is legally recognized as the heir to, and representative of, the GAR.

Today, the National Organization of the SUVCW, headed by an annually elected Commander-in-Chief, oversees the operation of 26 Departments, each consisting of one or more states, a Department-at-Large, a National Membership-at-Large, and over 200 community based Camps. More than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only male organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR -- Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. It publishes "The BANNER" quarterly for its members.

The SUVCW is one of five Allied Orders of the GAR. The other four Orders are: Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.


1. Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War web pages:

2. "I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit… II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith. III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective."

3. Craft, Rev. David; History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 1770-1878; 1992 reprint edition, Bradford County Historical Society; printed by Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, Michigan. LC 92-071446; pg. 180. To order go here:

Written and submitted July 2004 by Richard J. McCracken; Towanda, PA.

After notes from Joyce M. Tice - Many G.A.R. posts in other areas used flagholders of many shapes in addition to the star. They are very diverse. Some of them are included in my Flagholders section - photos of  many others that I have collected will be included eventually.

The full version of Craft is available on the site as well, alhtough you are encouraged to buy your own copy from BCHS to help support them, and to have your own printed copy.

The above & below G.A.R. Flagholders photographed by Joyce M. Tice are from areas outside of PA and represent the diversity that one might find.
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 26 JULY 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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