Wednesday, October 31, 2007

McMeens Post of the G.A.R.

The McMeens Post, No. 19, of the Department of Ohio’s Grand Army of the Republic was named for Dr. Robert R. McMeens, who served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War. The G.A.R. was founded by Benjamin F. Stephenson on April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois. The main object of this organization of Civil War veterans was to continue the friendships of the soldiers, to assist needy comrades, to care for war orphans and widows, and to promote patriotism. The three principles of the G.A.R. were fraternity, charity, and loyalty. The G.A.R. was divided into “Departments” at the state level, and by “Posts” at the community level. Membership peaked in 1890 when over 400,000 members were reported.

In 1892 I.F. Mack, a Sandusky newspaper editor and founder of the Ohio Veterans Home, was elected Commander of the Ohio Department of the Grand Army of the Republic. (You can read more about the colorful I.F. Mack in SANDUSKY’S EDITOR, by Charles E. Frohman, located in the Reference Services section of Sandusky Library.) Henry Dehnel was the Commander of the McMeens Post of the G.A.R. in 1892. You can view the 1892 roster of the local G.A.R. Post in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. Names are listed alphabetically, and the soldier’s Company and Civil War regiment are also noted.

The annual meetings of the G.A.R. were called “encampments.” Here veterans would have campfires, tell stories, and sing war songs that they recalled from their days as a soldier. In June, 1895, the 29th annual encampment of the Department of Ohio, G.A.R. was held at Cedar Point. You can read about the many parades, dinners, tributes and other activities of the encampment in the June 11, June 12, and June 13 issues of the 1895 “Sandusky Register,” available on microfilm in the Archives Research Center.

You can still find evidence of the G.A.R. all across the United States. Thousands of Civil War Veterans’ graves are marked with a G.A.R. star. U.S. Highway 6, which runs through Erie County, is known as the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway” its entire length.

No comments: