Friday, November 27, 2009

Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of The Republic was the largest organization of Union Veterans in America. It was founded by Benjamin F. Stephenson in Decatur, Illinois, on April 6, 1866. The GAR was a fraternal group for men who were honorably discharged from the Union Army and Navy. Local Posts were established throughout the country and named in honor of a deceased Union hero. Membership grew through the years and the GAR became an increasingly powerful political lobby that worked tirelessly for pensions and other veterans’ issues. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is the official successor to the GAR.

Memorial Day is the most visible reminder of the GAR today. Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in 1868 when GAR Commander-In-Chief John A. Logan issued General Orders No. 11, urging all posts to spend May 30 honoring their fallen comrades.

The official GAR newspaper was the National Tribune. Published weekly, each issue featured reminiscences from veterans. These articles are an invaluable source for historians about many important battles and campaigns. The recollections also illustrate the routine, and even humorous episodes associated with army life. Articles from the National Tribune, along with articles about the GAR from local newspapers, will be reprinted on this blog in memory of the brave men who preserved the Union from 1861-1865.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Union Defender November 2009



Springfield, Missouri, November 2009

Members discussed future camp projects, and agreed that funding another battle monument (this time in southwest Missouri) is a worthwhile project that can be completed by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The location of this monument will be announced after approval is obtained from the landowner and a contract is finalized with the monument company.

Members discussed negotiating with the University Club and the City of Springfield authorities to move the “Zagonyi’s Charge” monument from its current location (Mount Vernon Street and Kansas Expressway) to a more suitable location in Zagonyi Park. Camp member Herb Jackson has volunteered to lead this effort.

Members were encouraged to have a look at the new Phelps Camp blog (, and contribute Civil War news, historical information, etc., to editor Michael Price.
Members were informed that an article and photographs highlighting the Lexington and Cave Springs monument dedications have been submitted to The Banner.


The next meeting of Phelps Camp will be on Tuesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. We will discuss camp plans for 2010 and watch a recent documentary on the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cave Spring Monument

With members of Phelps Camp in attendance, a monument was erected at the Cave Spring school and cemetery, northeast of Sarcoxie, Missouri on October 3, 2009. The monument recognizes the wartime sacrifices of this Unionist community in southwest Missouri. Cave Spring was an early settlement in Jasper County. A school was established there in the early 1840s. By the Civil War, it was still a small, rural community. Though few in number, these citizens remained loyal to the Union. One regiment, the 76th Enrolled Missouri Militia, was recruited in the Cave Spring and Bowers’ Mill area. The monument lists the 37 soldiers and 10 civilians from the Cave Spring neighborhood who died during the war, either from wounds or disease.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lexington Monument Dedication

On September 26, 2009, members of Phelps Camp proudly dedicated a monument to the Union defenders of Lexington, Missouri. Missouri and Illinois volunteers commanded by Colonel James A. Mulligan stubbornly defended the Lexington garrison from September 12-20, 1861. Representatives from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and Congressman Ike Skelton spoke at the dedication. Several members of Holmes Brigade, a prominent reenacting unit, served in the color guard. The monument was erected near the Union entrenchments at the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site.

Attendees were privileged to meet Mr. David Luff, a descendant of George Palmer. Palmer, a musician in the 1st Illinois Cavalry, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on September 20. He led a charge which drove Confederate sharpshooters away from the Anderson House, a Union hospital. Mr. Luff generously displayed Palmer’s Medal of Honor and a Union flag he rescued.

With this long term project complete, Phelps Camp eagerly looks forward to new activities which will honor the services of Union soldiers.