Monuments And Memorials

As the Grand Army of the Republic grew in the years following the Civil War thoughts turned toward steps to insure that the accomplishments of the Boys In Blue would not be forgotten. Central to this need was the erection of various forms of monuments to the heroism that preserved the Union. Many of these monuments can be found today in cemeteries and on courthouse lawns across the nation.

When we think of Civil War memorials many of us think of the ubiquitous infantry soldier, garbed in the uniform and accouterments of the Civil War era. "Old Simon", as he is affectionately known may be found in a myriad of sizes and poses. GAR memorials in the form of artillery pieces of various sizes and designs were also widely used.

In the period between 1870 and 1910 when the swell of new GAR monuments was on, the US Government released hundreds of obsoleted artillery pieces, most being from the Civil War and antebellum era. Under various agreements these cannon were presented to certain GAR Posts who had applied for them. It was a cause for jubilant celebration when an artillery piece, bound for the local GAR Post, rumbled into town on the train. After a few weeks to properly mount and display the piece the entire community was called together to dedicate it. These dedications often occurred on Decoration Day or the Fourth of July and involved no small amount of patriotic fervor. It is ironic that this machinery of war which had wrought so much violence and carnage as our country set upon itself would now stand as silent sentinels, honoring the men who had given so much to preserve the Union. Sadly, many of these magnificent arms are no longer around. Many were victims of the World War II scrap drives of the spring of 1942 and, more recently, of unscrupulous antique arms dealers who steal and cheat communities out of their historic treasures.

While not all Civil War artillery pieces being used as memorials were under the stewardship the GAR, most were and are on perpetual loan, from the U.S. Government. All GAR monuments and memorials, including artillery pieces, fall under the protection of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). No individual, local government entity, cemetery, or other veteran's organization may claim ownership of GAR memorials. As the Congressionally chartered successor and legal heir to the Grand Army of the Republic, the SUVCW stridently claims legal guardianship of all GAR memorials and wholly rejects any competing claims.

As Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, we are charged by the Grand Army with maintaining and caring for these monuments and memorials. The LeValley-Heusted Camp is currently seeking out and cataloguing all known GAR monuments and memorials in Michigan's "Thumb" region in order to form an inventory and assess any needed repairs or maintenance. If you are aware of any such memorial that is in need of repair please contact the Camp to make the need known. Your help is appreciated