The Ubiquitous GAR Medal
Unlike modern times there was a time when the US government did not issue military service medals. Veterans of the Revolutionary War through the Civil War had to join veterans societies to get wearable membership medals denoting their military service. It wasn’t until 1905, forty years after the end of the Civil War that the Federal government issued the first Civil War service medal. Until that time the only medallic recognition that could be worn were a few state issued medals and the very popular Grand Army of the Republic membership medal, similar in design the Medal of Honor. (Confederate veterans only had the privately issued and funded Southern Cross of Honor.) Look through any of the pre-1900 state blue books and look at the pictures of the elected state senators and assembly men; almost every one of them is sporting a GAR member medal or lapel button. Even though it is just a veterans group medal one can not over estimate it’s importance as the semi-official campaign medal of it‘s era.