top of page
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting my work.

Grand Army of the Republic National Encampments

Updated: Dec 12, 2022


Have you come across any old photos or postcards like the one show above among your family albums or papers? The old photo postcard, shown above, was given to me by a collector of Civil War memorabilia. It was stored away for years until I came across it recently, prompting me to do a little research to learn more about it.


Clearly, the men in the photo were veterans of the Civil War, and probably members of the GAR. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization for veterans of the Union Army (the U.S. Army), the Union Navy (U.S. Navy), and the Marine Corps who fought and served in the Civil War. The GAR was similar to the American Legion or VFW of today.

"Almost every prominent veteran was enrolled, including five presidents: Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley." [Library of Congress]

The Grand Army of the Republic was founded by Benjamin F. Stephenson, in 1866 and had over 409,000 members in over 7,000 posts across the country at its peak, in 1890. Members from around the country gathered for a camp meeting, or "National Encampment", every year from 1866 to 1949, with the exception of 1867. No official membership records were kept until 1878.

The GAR was "a de facto political arm of the Republican Party during the heated political contests of the Reconstruction Era". Linking men through their experience of the war, the G.A.R. became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, lobbying Congress to establish regular veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. [Wikipedia]

The organization was dissolved on August 2, 1956, when the last surviving member, Henry Albert Woolson, died at the age of 106. The GAR's appointed heir and successor is the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, who work to preserve the legacy of our Civil War veterans.

Constitution of the Grand Army of the Republic

GAR National Encampments (1866-1949)

Following is a list of National Encampments held by the GAR, with some links I've found to images of the Encampment:


1st National Encampment, November 20, 1866, Indianapolis, Indiana

2nd National Encampment, January 15, 1868, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

3rd National Encampment, May 12-13, 1869, Cincinnati, Ohio

4th National Encampment, May 11-12, 1870, Washington, DC

5th National Encampment, May 10-11, 1871, Boston, Massachusetts

6th National Encampment, May 8-9, 1872, Cleveland, Ohio

7th National Encampment, May 14-15, 1873, New Haven, Connecticut

8th National Encampment, May 13, 1874, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

9th National Encampment, May 12-13, 1875, Chicago, Illinois

10th National Encampment, June 30, 1876, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

11th National Encampment, June 26-27, 1877, Providence, Rhode Island

12th National Encampment, June 4, 1878, Springfield, Massachusetts (31,016 Members)

13th National Encampment, June 17-18, 1879, Albany, New York

14th National Encampment, June 8-9, 1880, Dayton, Ohio (60,634 Members)

15th National Encampment, June 15-16, 1881, Indianapolis, Indiana (85,856 Members)

16th National Encampment, June 21-23, 1882, Baltimore, Maryland (134,701 Members)

17th National Encampment, June 25-26, 1883, Denver, Colorado

18th National Encampment, June 23-25, 1884, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Illustration

19th National Encampment, June 24-25, 1885, Portland, Maine (294,787 Members) - Photo

20th National Encampment, August 4-6, 1886, San Francisco, California (323,571 Members)

21st National Encampment, September 28-30, 1887, St. Louis, Missouri (355,916 Members)

22nd National Encampment, September 12-14, 1888, Columbus, Ohio (372,960 Members)

23rd National Encampment, August 28-30, 1889, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (397,974 Members) - Photo

24th National Encampment, August 13-14, 1890, Boston, Massachusetts (409,489 Members)

25th National Encampment, August 5-7, 1891, Detroit, Michigan (407,781 Members)

26th National Encampment, September 21-22, 1892, Washington, DC (399,880 Members) - Map

27th National Encampment, September 6-7, 1893, Indianapolis, Indiana (397,223 Members) - Photo

28th National Encampment, September 12-13, 1894, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (396,083 Members)

29th National Encampment, September 11-13, 1895, Louisville, Kentucky (357,639 Members) - Photo

30th National Encampment, September 3-4, 1896, St. Paul, Minnesota (340,610 Members)

31st National Encampment, August 25-27, 1897, Buffalo, New York (319,456 Members)

32nd National Encampment, September 5-6, 1898, Cincinnati, Ohio (305,603 Members)

33rd National Encampment, September 6-7, 1899, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (287,918 Members) - Photo

34th National Encampment, August 29-30, 1900, Chicago, Illinois (276,612 Members)

35th National Encampment, September 12-13, 1901, Cleveland, Ohio (269,507 Members)

36th National Encampment, October 9-10, 1902, Washington, DC (263,745 Members) - Photo

37th National Encampment, August 20-21, 1903, San Francisco, California (256,510 Members)

38th National Encampment, August 17-18, 1904, Boston, Massachusetts (247,340 Members)

39th National Encampment, September 7-8, 1905, Denver, Colorado (232,455 Members)

40th National Encampment, August 16-17, 1906, Minneapolis, Minnesota (235,823 Members)

41st National Encampment, September 12-13, 1907, Saratoga Springs, New York (229,932 Members)

42nd National Encampment, September 3-4, 1908, Toledo, Ohio (225,157 Members)

43rd National Encampment, August 12-13, 1909, Salt Lake City, Utah (220,600 Members)

44th National Encampment, September 22-23, 1910, Atlantic City, New Jersey (213,901 Members) - Postcard

45th National Encampment, August 24-25, 1911, Rochester, New York (203,410 Members)

46th National Encampment, September 9-14, 1912, Los Angeles, California (191,346 Members)

47th National Encampment, September 18-19, 1913, Chattanooga, Tennessee (180,227 Members)

48th National Encampment, September 3-4, 1914, Detroit, Michigan (171,335 Members) - Photo

49th National Encampment, September 30-October 1, 1915, Washington, DC (159,853 Members) - Photo

50th National Encampment, August 28-September 2, 1916, Kansas City, Missouri (140,074 Members)

51st National Encampment, August 20-25, 1917, Boston, Massachusetts (135,931 Members)

52nd National Encampment, August 18-24, 1918, Portland, Oregon (120,916 Members)

53rd National Encampment, September 7-13, 1919, Columbus, Ohio (110,357 Members)

54th National Encampment, September 19-25, 1920, Indianapolis, Indiana (103,258 Members)

55th National Encampment, September 25-29, 1921, Indianapolis, Indiana (93,171 Members)

56th National Encampment, September 24-29, 1922, Des Moines, Iowa (85,621 Members)

57th National Encampment, September 2-8, 1923, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (76,126 Members)

58th National Encampment, August 10-15, 1924, Boston, Massachusetts (65,382 Members)

59th National Encampment, August 30 to September 5, 1925, Grand Rapids, Michigan (55,817 Members)

60th National Encampment, September 19-25, 1926, Des Moines, Iowa (47,179 Members)

61st National Encampment, September 11-16, 1927, Grand Rapids, Michigan (38,801 Members)

62nd National Encampment, September 16-21, 1928, Denver, Colorado (32,614 Members)

63rd National Encampment, September 8-13, 1929, Portland, Maine (26,219 Members)

64th National Encampment, August 24-28, 1930, Cincinnati, Ohio (21,080 Members)

65th National Encampment, September 13-18, 1931, Des Moines, Iowa (16,587 Members)

66th National Encampment, September 18-24, 1932, Springfield, Illinois (13,066 Members)

67th National Encampment, September 17-22, 1933, St. Paul, Minnesota (10,138 Members)

68th National Encampment, August 12-18, 1934, Rochester, New York (7,807 Members)

69th National Encampment, September 8-14, 1935, Grand Rapids, Michigan (6,244 Members)

70th National Encampment, September 20-26, 1936, Washington, DC (4,391 Members)

71st National Encampment, September 5-10, 1937, Madison, Wisconsin (3,325 Members)

72nd National Encampment, September 4-9, 1938, Des Moines, Iowa (2,443 Members)

73rd National Encampment, August 27 to September 1, 1939, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1,701 Members)

74th National Encampment, September 8-13, 1940, Springfield, Illinois (1,039 Members)

75th National Encampment, September 14-19, 1941, Columbus, Ohio (763 Members)

76th National Encampment, September 13-18, 1942, Indianapolis, Indiana (518 Members)

77th National Encampment, September 19-24, 1943, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (393 Members)

78th National Encampment, September 10-15, 1944, Des Moines, Iowa (249 Members)

79th National Encampment, September 30 to October 4, 1945, Columbus, Ohio (163 Members)

80th National Encampment, August 25-30, 1946, Indianapolis, Indiana (103 Members)

81st National Encampment, August 10-14, 1947, Cleveland, Ohio (66 Members)

82nd National Encampment, September 28-30, 1948, Grand Rapids, Michigan (28 Members)

83rd National Encampment, August 28 to September 1, 1949, Indianapolis, Indiana (16 Members)

Summary of Encampments By State

  • California - 1886, 1903, 1912

  • Colorado - 1883, 1905, 1928

  • Connecticut - 1873

  • District of Columbia - 1870, 1892, 1902, 1915, 1936

  • Iowa - 1922, 1926, 1931, 1938, 1944

  • Illinois - 1875, 1900, 1932, 1940

  • Indiana - 1866, 1881, 1893, 1920, 1921, 1942, 1946, 1949

  • Kentucky - 1895

  • Massachusetts - 1871, 1878, 1890, 1904, 1917, 1924

  • Maryland - 1882

  • Maine - 1885, 1929

  • Michigan - 1891, 1914, 1925, 1927, 1935, 1948

  • Minnesota - 1884, 1896, 1906, 1933

  • Missouri - 1887, 1916

  • New Jersey - 1910

  • New York - 1879, 1897, 1907, 1911, 1934

  • Ohio - 1869, 1872, 1880, 1888, 1898, 1901, 1908, 1919, 1930, 1941, 1945, 1947

  • Oregon - 1918

  • Pennsylvania - 1868, 1874, 1876, 1894, 1899, 1939

  • Rhode Island - 1877

  • Tennessee - 1913

  • Utah - 1909

  • Wisconsin - 1889, 1923, 1937, 1943

Other private encampments were also held, such as the Battle of Gettysburg's 50th Reunion, held at the site in 1913. It appears the group photo from my postcard was likely taken there. The tents and water basins seen in the photo (below) match the scene in another photo held by the Library of Congress.

Veterans of the Civil War




0 comments

Hozzászólások


Sign up or log in to save this page to your Site Favorites.

bottom of page