Northwood, New Hampshire
The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), the largest Union soldiers veterans' organization, was represented in East Northwood, New Hampshire by the Charles H. Hoitt Post #69 chartered in May 1883 with 26 members. By the close of 1884, the Post had grown to a roster of 58 members. The G.A.R. met in local halls, but had no real place of their own for the first two years.
In 1885 Morrison Lodge #90, F.&A.M. (the Masons) finalized plans to construct a 3-story Masonic Hall on their land in East Northwood. The third floor was arranged to be occupied by the Grand Army of the Republic. By October 1885 the building was completed, giving the Masons and the G.A.R. permanent meeting places. The G.A.R. was for Union veterans only, no descendents. As time passed on, so would the membership.
The Post room is decorated with four murals depicting scenes from The Great Rebellion, otherwise know as The War Between the States, or The Civil War. These murals are done directly on the plaster walls and were painted between 1885 and 1897. In 1891 the Post Room was reported as being "one of the best around, neatly arranged and very attractive." But in 1897 one report about Post #69 reads "…they have a nice cozy hall, with battle scenes painted upon the walls."
The G.A.R. Post Room is set up just as if a meeting was scheduled, and the members were suddenly called away.
The four murals are
here; click on a photo to go to a full-screen view
||Fort Sumter, under siege in Charleston Harbor, Charleston, South Carolina. This was the first major battle of The Great Rebellion. Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate forces on April 12, 1861 and surrendered by the Union Army April 14, 1861.|
||Naval Battle between the Merrimac and Monitor – off Norfolk, Virginia, this was the first ironclad battleship clash of the Civil War, taking place on March 9, 1862. After two hours of fighting, the battle ended in a draw. The Union ship, the Monitor, is the vessel that has the appearance of a flatboat with a large gun turret on deck.|
||Port Hudson, Louisiana – A single tent sits on the bank of the Mississippi River across from the Confederate fortress high upon the hill. As part of the Siege of Vicksburg, Between May 19 and July 4, 1863 Ulysses S. Grant's Union forces won control of the Mississippi River, thereby dividing the Confederacy in half.|
||A Row of Tents – the old campgrounds of the silent soldiers, those fallen comrades who no longer answer the roll call.|
Also, the ceiling above the center of the room is painted with flowers reminiscent of those flowers placed on Veterans' graves on Decoration Day every year on May 30th. This tranquil field of flowers is in sharp contract to the fields of battles past.
Also illustrated on the center area of the room are the badges/medals worn by the G.A.R. members. These badges were cast from melted down Confederate cannons.
Written by Cliff Hodgdon, Northwood
active member of the Masons, and history enthusiast.
Last Updated on 4/21/01
By Doug Reckard