The Grand Army of the Republic
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 Union 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. Six US Presidents, Andrew Johnson, US Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Chester A. Arthur, James Garfield, and William McKinley, were members. With this political might the GAR lobbied for pensions for veterans, created Memorial Day in 1868, and lobbied for the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in schools, as well as flags to be placed in the classrooms. Each year the GAR would meet at a National Encampment and it was quite an honor to host one. In the 83 year history of the GAR New Jersey hosted only one, at that was in 1910 in Atlantic City. This was no slight against New Jersey as Departments in the GAR would bid hot and heavy for this honor. At these National Encampments a new Commander-in-Chief was elected as well as business discussed concerning battlefield preservation, pensions for veterans, and other items important to the veterans. These Encampments were also attended by the five Allied orders, Sons of Veterans (Sons of Union Veterans) Auxiliary to the Sons, Daughters of Union Veterans, Ladies of the GAR, and the Women’s Relief Corps. Today the spirit of the GAR lives on through the Allied Orders. Our organization the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America, was established 1881 by the GAR 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. Our Camp Colonel Louis R. Francine is based in the Hammonton area.