Grand Army Of The Republic

In compiling the history of Rock Island County, it would not be complete without making mention of the Grand Army Posts, and their auxiliaries. Shortly after the close of the Civil War, the thought came in the minds of the soldiers that were separating to do something that would keep them near together, and the Grand Army of the Republic was instituted. Doctor B. F. Stephenson, of Springfield, Illinois, was the founder. The first Post was organized at Decatur, Illinois, April 6, 1866. Honorable M. F. Kanan was its first commander. Wednesday evening, June 6, 1.866, a meeting was held in the County Clerk’s office of the late officers and soldiers of the United States volunteers. Major S. C. Plummer read the constitution of the Grand Army of the Republic; and it was decided to organize a post. Captain J. A. Jordan, Major S. C. Plummer, Lieutenant-Colonel E. M. Beardsley, Major James M. Beardsley, and Captain James F. Copp were elected delegates to the first Soldiers and Sailors convention held in Illinois, and which convened in Springfield June 12, 1866. That evening they elected the following officers: Major, Samuel C. Plummer, district commander; Captain Jolhn Peetz, adjutant-general; W. C. Blackburn, quarter-master; Captain David Hillier, post-commander; Captain Lester D. Phelps, adjutant; James L. Hodges, quartermaster-sergeant. June 24, 1866, the comrades received their charter, being designated as Post No. 24. At the first organization of the various Posts, no names were given; only numbers. After-wards names were given in connection with number of the different Posts: the names being in honorable recognition of some prominent and favorite soldier. Following this meeting a great many of the old soldiers joined the Post, and arranged by-laws and constitution. All went well for a year when the general interest lagged and they finally threw up their charter and was not reorganized until May 30, 1883, when the following officers were elected: Major H. C. Connelly, commander; Louis M. Buford senior vice-commander; E. H. Bowman, junior -vice-commander; John M. Reitcker, quartermaster; J. M. Montgomery, officer of the day; Major Samuel C. Plummer, surgeon; L. V. Eckhart, officer of the guards; A. H. Hampton, chaplain; Comrade Harry Abel was appointed adjutant; J. M. Beardsley, second quartermaster-sergeant; Levi Harson, sergeant-major; and the following name adopted: “Major General John Buford Post, No. 243.” The objects of the Grand Army has been changed from time to time at their annual meetings for the greatest number interested. many of the legislative acts have been brought about by the Grand Army, and much good accomplished by them, for the great principles involved. The following is a list of the Posts of the County, and year of organization: Major General John Buford Post, No. 243, Rock Island, 1874; Graham Post, No. 312, Moline, 1868; William McDaniel Post, No. 595, Hampton, 1868; Alford Bing Post, No. 492, Andalusia, 1886; William L. Walker Post, No. 385, Coal Valley, 1886; J. W. Muse Post, No. 369, Milan, 1886; Reynolds, No. 559, Reynolds, 1886. Eligibility to membership, includes soldiers and sailors of the United States army, navy or marine corps, who served between April 12, 1861, and April 9, 1865, in the war for the suppression of the rebellion ; those having been honorably discharged therefrom after such service; and of such State regiments as were called into active service, and subject to the orders of the United States general officers between the dates mentioned; shall be eligible to membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. No person shall be eligible to membership who has at any time borne arms o against the United States. No officer or comrade of the Grand Army of the Republic shall in any manner use the organization for partisan purposes, and no discussion of partisan questions shall be permitted at any of its meetings, nor shall any nominations for political office be made. The objects to be accomplished by this organization are: To preserve and strengthen those kind and fraternal feelings which bind together soldiers, sailors and marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion, and to perpetuate the memory and history of the Dead; to assist such former comrades in arms as need help and protection, and to extend needful aid to the widows and orphans of those who have fallen; to maintain true allegiance to the United States of America, based upon a paramount respect for and fidelity to its constitution and laws, to discountenance whatever tends to weaken loyalty, incite insurrection, treason or rebellion; or in any manner impairs the efficiency or permancy of our free institutions; and to encourage the spread of universal liberty, equal rights and justice to all men. The Major General John Buford Post, No. 243, was highly complimented by one of its members—Edwin H. Buck, in 1906-being elected Department commander of the State of Illinois, and with the boys was dubbed “Private Buck.”

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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