The New Student's Reference Work/Republic, Grand Army of the
Repub′lic, Grand Army of the, is an organization composed of those who were soldiers and sailors in the Federal army and navy during the Civil War — the men in blue who upheld the flag and saved the Union. Its object is to preserve the spirit of comradeship among those who stood side by side amid the hardships and perils of war; to care for sick and disabled soldiers; to provide for the widows and orphans of those who fell in field or hospital or have since died; to stand by each other while living; and to bury those who answer the final call as the years go by. The organization was first suggested and planned by Dr. B. P. Stephenson of Springfield, Ill. The first post was organized early in 1866, and on July 12 of that year a meeting of representative soldiers from all parts of the state was held at Springfield, where they were mustered in and given authority to organize posts throughout the state. The organization grew rapidly and extended to other states. The posts in each state constitute a department, and the organization in 1910 had 5,923 posts, with a membership of 203,410. The losses by death in the preceding year were 9,151. The motto of the order is Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty. The badge of the Grand Army consists of an eagle and a star, connected by a ribbon representing the flag. A bronze button is also worn as an every-day insignia of the order. The order is strictly non-political, and none but honorably discharged soldiers can become members. There are frequent campfires, reunions and banquets, and once each year a grand, national encampment is held. At these meetings greetings are exchanged, memories are revived, the old songs of the war are sung again and the unwritten history of the war is recalled. Under the auspices of the order large sums are every year expended in charity. Hundreds of soldiers' and sailors' monuments have been erected, orphans' homes have been built and endowed in many states, and a helping hand has been given to thousands of old soldiers and soldiers' widows and orphans. The membership is now rapidly reduced each year by death.