Ohio History Journal

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The Grand Army of the Republic was founded in Illinois by

Dr. B. F. Stephenson in early April, 1866, and its First National

Encampment was held in Indianapolis in November of the same

year under the direction of the founder. At the first meeting

eleven departments were represented; two years later when the

Second National Encampment was convened in Philadelphia, evi-

dence of growth of the organization was noted in the fact that

twenty-one departments sent delegates.1

The founding of the Ohio Department of the G. A. R. came

shortly after that of the National Encampment. Because depart-

ment records were lost or destroyed while being shipped yearly to

the headquarters and residences of the various commanders, in-

formation concerning the early life of the order is meager. In-

deed, only one organized source outside newspaper accounts is

available for the proceedings of the department encampments held

in Ohio from 1867 up to and including 1880.2 Because of the lack

of records, the exact date on which General B. F. Potts was ap-

pointed provisional commander of the Ohio Department is un-

known as are the dates of the formation of the first Ohio posts.

The roster for December, 1867, is said, however, to have assigned

No. 1 to a post at Carrollton and No. 2 to one at Zanesville.3


* This article is based upon two chapters from a doctoral dissertation written in

1945 at the Ohio State University and entitled "A History of the Grand Army of the

Republic in Ohio from 1866 to 1900." The emphasis is laid, however, upon the fourth

chapter of the dissertation, "Politics and Preferment."

1 No meeting was held in 1867. See Robert B. Beath, History of the Grand Army

of the Republic (New York, 1888), 36 et passim. Hereafter this work will be cited as

Beath, History of the G. A. R.

2 The work of Comrade T. D. McGillicuddy, Proceedings of the Annual and Semi-

Annual Encampments of the Department of Ohio Grand Army of the Republic for the

First Fourteen Years of Its Existence (Columbus, O., 1912) is the source to which

reference is made, and which will be cited in this article hereafter as McGillicuddy,

Proceedings. Prior to 1880, departmental Proceedings were not printed in permanent

form, and McGillicuddy was forced to rely upon newspaper sources for his compilation.

See The Ohio Soldier (Chillicothe, O.), Sept. 24, 1887, in substantiation of this point.

McGillicuddy also published his work in scattered issues of The Ohio Soldier from Aug.

27, 1887, to Aug. 18, 1888.

3 McGillicuddy, Proceedings, 4; Beath, History of the G. A. R., 501-2: See also let-

ter of R. B. Beath to J. E. Stewart, April 4, 1888, G. A. R. Correspondence, Archives

of Adjutant General, State of Ohio, in the Department of Documents, Ohio State

Archaeological and Historical Society Library. Hereafter material taken from this source

will be cited as G. A. R. Correspondence.