Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Semiannual Encampment of the Ohio G.A.R., 1869

Several Sandusky residents, along with two hundred fifty delegates to the Semi-Annual Encampment of the Ohio Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) took a trip to Put-In-Bay on July 22, 1869. The steamers “Evening Star” and “Reindeer” transported the excursionists, commanded by Captains Kirby and Orr. The Sandusky Register of July 23, 1869 reported: “It was noticeable that the entire party, fully one-third of which was ladies, were in the best of spirits. The occasion was a joyous one, and the weather was as perfect as could be desired. The citizens present vied with each other to make the occasion a memorable one in the annals of the Grand Army of Ohio…”

During the Ohio Encampment, several speakers were heard. Gen. J. Warren Keifer made an address in Sandusky on July 21st, which was published in the July 22, 1869 Sandusky Register.
When Gov. R. B. Hayes spoke, “he assured the audience that the speakers present had been warned not to occupy more than five minutes.” An important topic of the encampment was the necessity of establishing a children’s home for the orphans of veterans.

The McMeens Post of the G.A.R. was the topic of a previous blog entry. Post 19 was named in honor of Dr. Robert McMeens, a Civil War Physician. Larry Stevens, in his Ohio in the Civil War web page, lists these Erie County posts of the G.A.R.:

McMeens Post 19 --- Sandusky
Arthur Cranston Post 73 --- Milan
Gen. M.F. Force Post 142 --- Ohio Soldiers' & Sailors' Home
Geo. E. Fowler Post 153 --- Berlin Heights
Thomas Neill Post 423 --- Castalia
H.G. Delker Post 428 --- Vermillion
Sam Edwards Post (611) --- Sand Hill
Moses Martin Post 649 --- Huron
J.T. Toland Post (695) --- Sandusky - Ohio Soldiers Home

While not all details are known about these Erie County Posts of the G.A.R., some details have been gleaned from historical newspaper articles. The General Manning Force Post 142, at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home was named for General Manning F. Force, an officer in the Civil War, who was Commandant of the Ohio Soldiers Home from 1888 until his death in 1899.
The J. T. Toland Post 695, also located at the Ohio Soldiers Home, was named for Colonel John T. Toland, of the 34th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who was killed at Wytheville, Virginia on July 18, 1863. The George Fowler Post 153 was most likely named for a corporal in Company G of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Arthur Cranston, namesake of Milan Post 73, began service as a private during the Civil War, later appointed a cadet at West Point. and was a lieutenant when he was killed in the Modoc War in 1872. The H. G. Delker Post 428 was named for prominent Vermilion business man Henry G. Delker. The Sam Edwards Post 611 at Sand Hill, Moses Martin Post 649 at Huron, and the Thomas Neill Post 423 the Thomas Neill Post were all named for Civil War Veterans who lost their lives during wartime service. Thomas Neill, Jr. and his brother Foster Neill, both in Co. G of the Ohio 123rd Infantry, were imprisoned at Andersonville, Georgia, during the Civil War. Foster Neill was part of a prisoner exchange, and he was returned North during the war, but his brother, Thomas Neill Jr., died while he was being held prisoner at Andersonville.

While these Erie County Posts of the G.A.R. are no longer active, the Thomas Neill Woman’s Relief Corps, No. 275 is still active in Castalia, Ohio. The members of the group provide an annual scholarship to a graduating senior at Margaretta High School, and members place flags on the graves of area veterans prior to Memorial Day.

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