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This is a list of the Commanders-in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, US Marines and US Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois on the principles of "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty" by Benjamin F. Stephenson, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died. Linking men through their experience of the war, the GAR became among the first organized advocacy group in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, lobbying the US Congress to establish veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Its peak membership, at more than 400,000, was in 1890. It was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), composed of male descendants of Union veterans.

The GAR initially grew and prospered as a de facto political arm of the Republican Party during the heated political contests of the Reconstruction era. The commemoration of Union veterans, black and white, immediately became entwined with partisan politics. When the Republican Party's commitment to reform in the South gradually decreased, the GAR's mission became ill-defined and the organization floundered. The GAR almost disappeared in the early 1870s, and many divisions ceased to exist.

In the 1880s, the organization revived under new leadership that provided a platform for renewed growth, by advocating federal pensions for veterans. As the organization revived, black veterans joined in significant numbers and organized local posts. The national organization, however, failed to press the case for pensions for black soldiers. Most black troops never received any pension or remuneration for wounds incurred during their service.[1] The GAR was organized into "Departments" at the state level and "Posts" at the community level, and military-style uniforms were worn by its members. There were posts in every state in the U.S., and several posts overseas.[1]

Commanders-in-Chief were elected by the membership at the National Encampments for one year terms. Several Commanders-in-Chief were re-elected for additional terms.

Grand Army of the Republic Commanders-in Chief

Image Name Term Start Term End Home
Benjamin F. Stephenson 1866 1866 Illinois Founder and provisional Commander-in-Chief, April 6-November 21, 1866.
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Stephen Augustus Hurlbut 1866 1868 Illinois
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John Alexander Logan 1868 1871 Illinois Issued General Order No. 11 on May 5, 1868 designating Decoration Day as May 30. It ultimately became a national holiday and today is known as Memorial Day, the final Monday in the month of May.
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Ambrose Everett Burnside 1871 1873 Rhode Island
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Charles Devens, Jr. 1873 1875 Massachusetts
John Frederick Hartranft 1875 1877 Pennsylvania Recipient of the Medal of Honor for action at the First Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
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John Cleveland Robinson 1877 1879 New York
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William Earnshaw 1879 1880 Ohio
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Louis Wagner 1880 1881 Pennsylvania
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George Sargent Merrill 1881 1882 Massachusetts
Paul Vandervoort 1882 1883 Nebraska First enlisted man to be elected Commander-in-Chief. National Women's Relief Corps recognized as an official auxiliary to the G.A.R. during his term.
Robert Burns Beath 1883 1884 Pennsylvania
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John S. Kountz 1884 1885 Ohio Recipient of the Medal of Honor for action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863.
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Samuel Swinfin Burdett 1885 1886 Washington, DC
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Lucius Fairchild 1886 1887 Wisconsin
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John Patterson Rea 1887 1888 Minnesota
William Warner 1888 1889 Missouri
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Russell Alexander Alger 1889 1890 Michigan
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Wheelock Graves Veazey 1890 1891 Vermont Peak membership of the GAR: 409,489.
John Palmer 1891 1892 New York
Augustus Gordon Weissert 1892 1893 Wisconsin
John Gregory Bishop Adams 1893 1894 Massachusetts
Thomas G. Lawler 1894 1895 Illinois
Ivan N. Walker 1895 1896 Indiana
Thaddeus Stevens Clarkson 1896 1897 Nebraska
John Peter Shindel Gobin 1897 1898 Pennsylvania
James Andrew Sexton 1898 1899 Illinois Died in office, February 5, 1899.
William Christie Johnson 1899 1899 Ohio
Albert Duane Shaw 1899 1900 Pennsylvania
Leo Rassieur 1900 1901 Missouri
Eliakim "Ell" Torrance 1901 1902 Minnesota
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John Charles Black 1903 1904 Illinois
Wilmon Whilldin Blackmar 1904 1905 Massachusetts Died in office, July 19, 1905.
John Rigdon King 1905 1905 Maryland
James Tanner 1905 1906 New York
Robert Burns Brown 1906 1907 Ohio
Charles Germman Burton 1907 1908 Missouri
Henry Martin Nevius 1908 1909 New Jersey
Samuel Rinnah Van Sant 1909 1910 Minnesota
John Edward Gilman 1910 1911 Massachusetts
Harvey Marion Trimble 1911 1912 Illinois
Alfred Bishop Beers 1912 1913 Connecticut
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Washington Gardner 1913 1914 Michigan
David James Palmer 1914 1915 Iowa
Elias Riggs Monfort 1915 1916 Ohio
William James Patterson 1916 1917 Pennsylvania
Orlando Allen Somers 1917 1918 Indiana
Clarendon E. Adams 1918 1919 Nebraska
James David Bell 1919 1920 New York Died in office, November 1, 1919.
Daniel Munson Hall 1920 1920 Ohio
William Alexander Ketcham 1920 1921 Indiana
Lewis Stephen Pilcher 1921 1922 New York
James William Willett 1922 1923 Iowa
Gaylord Miller Saltzgaber 1923 1924 Ohio
Louis F. Arensberg 1924 1925 Iowa
John Baptist Inman 1925 1926 Illinois
Francis Augustin "Frank" Walsh 1926 1927 Wisconsin
Elbridge Lafayette Hawk 1927 1928 California
John Reese 1928 1929 Nebraska
Edwin J. Foster 1929 1930 Massachusetts
James E. Jewel 1930 1931 Colorado
Samuel P. Town 1931 1932 Pennsylvania
William Parkinson Wright 1932 1933 Illinois Died in office, June 15, 1933.
Russell C. Martin 1933 1934 California
Alfred Edwin Stacey 1934 1935 New York
Oley Nelson 1935 1936 Iowa
Carl Henry William Ruhe 1936 1937 Pennsylvania
Overton H. Mennet 1937 1938 California
Robert McKee Rownd 1938 1939 New York
John E. Andrew 1940 1940 Illinois Died in office, June 30, 1940.
Alexander T. Anderson 1940 1940 unknown
William Washington Nixon 1940 1941 Kansas
George Alvin Gay 1941 1942 New Hampshire
John S. Dumser 1942 1943 California
George H. Jones 1943 1944 Maine
Isaac W. Sharp 1944 1945 Indiana
Hiram R. Gale 1945 1946 Washington
John Henry Grate 1946 1947 Ohio
Robert McKee Rownd 1947 1948 New York
Theodore A. Penland 1948 1949 Oregon


  1. 1.0 1.1 "A Brief History of the Grand Army of the Republic". Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 

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