The Grand Army of the Republic was the premier fraternal organization for Union Civil War veterans. Returning soldiers founded the GAR just after the war and over the next several decades hundreds of thousands of men who had worn the Union blue joined posts across the nation to socialize, perform charitable works, and advocate for medical care and military pensions. One of the most active was Post 327 of Brooklyn, New York. Post 327 included men from such regiments as the 14th Brooklyn that fought at Antietam, Gettysburg, and elsewhere. The 327 also included many men who had served under Grant and Meade in the Overland Campaign and Siege of Petersburg, some of the toughest engagements of the war. These veterans marched and spoke regularly at Decoration Day commemorations, Fourth of July picnics, and other events, sometimes with Grant in attendance.
At Mount McGgregor on the morning of July 24, 1885, the day after the general died, representatives told Frederick Dent Grant that the post was changing its name to U.S. Grant Post 327 in tribute to their former commander. They were also in Mount McGregor to provide escort for General Grant as he made his way to his final resting place in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, men of U.S. Grant Post 327 participated in General Grant‘s funeral in 1885 and again at the dedication of the Tomb in 1897.
U.S. Grant Post 327 was still going strong in the early decades of the twentieth century, speaking to children at schools, marching in parades and, increasingly, symbolizing the passing of an era. As with other posts across the nation, their numbers were dwindling quickly until finally in the 1920s and 30s just a few remained. Many Civil War veterans who joined Post 327 are today buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Often these soldiers’ headstones are marked with circular tablets like the one we see here. I was in Green-Wood recently and wanted to share this image I took of a tablet marking a Union soldier’s headstone. Some of these markers are over a century old but, as we can see, are still quite legible. Note General Grant‘s likeness in the center of the tablet.