Grand Army of the Republic, Central New York, circa 1900


GAR Camp 1900 Near Syracuse NY
Grand Army of the Republic, New York Post 160, Cazenovia, New York (near Syracuse), circa 1900
Source: blog.syracuse.com; collection of Angelo Scarlato

This is a wonderful photograph of an integrated post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which was an organization for United States (Union) veterans of the American Civil War. The post, New York post number 160, was located in Cazenovia, New York, which is near Syracuse. The picture was taken around 1900, roughly 35 years after the end of the war. The image of these black and white soldiers, with its staging of a black man holding the American flag in the center of the shot, has a poignancy which reaches over a hundred years of time, and touches me today.

These men might not have known each other during the war, because Union regiments were segregated. Although, during the course of the war, different soldiers from different regiments often fought alongside each other at particular sites. But GAR units like this one might have been the first opportunity for black and white soldiers to meet, greet, and perhaps, become friends.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) show “History Detectives” devoted a program segment to a discussion of the photo, the GAR, and race in the Civil War. A transcript of the segment, which aired in July 2007, is here. Thanks to the blog Syracuse.com for providing the link and the photograph, and additional information.

I have another entry on this blog which discusses African Americans and the GAR here.

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