What is the GAR?
The Grand Army of the Republic or GAR was an organization composed of Civil War Veterans. It was social, political and fraternal in nature. It became powerful and politicians sought the endorsement of the GAR. Almost every town had a GAR Post and GAR Hall. They held regular reunions or encampments at the State and National levels. Many of today's Civil War Monuments were erected and dedicated by the GAR. As old soldiers passed on, the organization faded away. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) was the successor organization.
What is the SUVCW?
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is the successor organization to the GAR. It is no longer necessary to have a hereditary link to a Civil War Veteran to belong to the organization. Today the SUVCW follows the GAR procedures and continues to have annual encampments at the State and National levels. Members have an interest in preserving Civil War monuments and tombstones. There is also an interest in Civil War history. Members, dressed in Civil War uniforms, often take part in dedications or memorial services honoring Veterans of all wars.
What is the WRC?
There are several organizations that have been allied with the GAR and SUVCW including the Woman's Relief Corps (WRC), Daughters of Union Veterans, Ladies of the GAR, and Auxiliary to the SUVCW. The WRC was particularly active in Iowa in the early 1900's in funding and erecting Civil War Monuments. These organizations remain active today although membership has declined.
Where did you find out about these monuments?
Others have done work on this in the past. I started with a list of Iowa monuments from Dennis Speer which was very complete. There was also a helpful book by the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War published in 1978 that included CW monuments throughout the country. Jim Bender provided a list of cannons in Iowa from the National Artillery Registry which was very complete. Since the web site went up in early 2008, I have had many tips and have updated many monuments. Steve Hanken has been particularly helpful and has provided photos for a number of monuments of which I was not previously aware. Court Stahr, Past Commander of the SUVCW, Department of Iowa, has also provided photos and information about a number of monuments in and around Fayette County. I am sure there are others out there that have not been included and information about these is very much appreciated.
Are you planning to include Iowa Monuments located outside of Iowa?
Yes. We have already included many of these. In 1906, Governor A. B. Cummins led a large delegation of Iowans dedicating monuments at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Andersonville. There were multiple monuments; for example, there is a state monument at Shiloh and 11 regimental monuments. These monuments are now included. We also just included a new Iowa monument that was recentely dedicated at Allatoona Pass in Georgia. This may be hard to believe, but there is also one in North Dakota. Please let me know if you are aware of other Iowa monuments at other battlefields. To find these monuments on this site, go to "Search for Monument" - then to the state to find an out-of-state Iowa monument.
You have some tombstones listed as monuments. Will you include all Civil War veterans?
No. There are just too many to make this practical. I have included those that have a greater interest such as Medal of Honor recipients and General Grenville Dodge's mausoleum in Council Bluffs. Then there is the unusual Dog Tent memorial/tombstone in Villisca in Montgomery County. In traveling around the state, I have noted the poor condition of many CW tombstones. Many are discolored and many have the names wearing away or fading from the stone. Many of the original stones were a poor quality marble. This is an area where much work needs to be done - it often looks as if we are neglecting our CW veterans.
Are you going to include the headstone for all Iowa Medal of Honor Recipients?
Yes, this is the goal. This includes all those buried in Iowa, regardless of the state in which they served and those from Iowa regiments that are buried in other states. There are other sources with much more information. See the link "Medal of Honor Heros" for an excellent web site. There is also an outstanding book "Profiles of Valor - Iowa's Medal of Honor Recipients of the Civil War" by Senator Dennis Black. I have used these sources for information on this web site.
How many of the monuments are statues of Civil War soldiers?
This is by far the most popular type of monument. There are 78 of these including 50 in cemeteries and 24 on courthouse or town squares. Fayette County has 8, Taylor County has 8 and Jones Coiunty has 4 of these soldier monuments. Most all of the statues are similar with the soldiers at parade rest. The soldier was often made of bronze, white bronze/zinc, granite or marble. Soldiers at Albia (Monroe County) and Chariton (Lucas County) are wearing a slouch hat and sack coat which was probably more typical of what the informal Iowa soldiers really wore. Most of these monuments were dedicated from 1900-1930.
What is white bronze?
White bronze was a name given to zinc. A number of monuments, particularly in northeast Iowa, are of this material. These were popular in the late 1800's. While they allowed for an intricate design, they are hollow and some tended to collapse over time. Repair has been done on the monuments in Eldora (Hardin County) and Humboldt (Humboldt County). Ones in Mason City (Cerro Gordo County) and Decorah (Winneshiek County) appear to be in good condition. Others use the white bronze or zinc only for the soldier atop a stone base. These do not seem to have the repair problems. Examples include McGregor (Clayton County) and Forest City (Winnebago County).
Are you planning to include GPS coordinates and a link to a map for all monuments?
Yes. One major goal with the web site was to provide good directions to find the monument. I spent many hours wandering down country roads and through cemeteries attempting to locate monuments. After completing the first phase of this project, I realized that GPS technology could be very helpful and on subsequent visits, or with new monuments, I have included the GPS coordinates. We now have a link to a map for many monuments - the street map offers the option of an "satellite" image which I recommend. The street map may not show roads within a cemetery and the satellite image can be more useful.