Union Civil War veterans formed a fraternal organization after the war that had a surprisingly strong presence in Arkansas. The first Grand Army of the Republic post was founded in Illinois in 1866, and African American veterans formed some of the earliest posts in Arkansas around the same time.
The GAR promoted patriotic activities, assisted the widows and orphans of Union war dead, and successfully pushed to have May 30 designated as Memorial Day. Arkansas, which had the second highest number of native sons to fight for the Union from among the seceded states, would eventually host more than one hundred GAR chapters in every part of the state. Grand Army of the Republic monuments can be found at Judsonia in White County and Gentry and Siloam Springs in Benton County. The number of posts dwindled as the aging veterans passed away, and the Grand Army of the Republic folded in 1949.
To learn more, visit Encyclopedia of Arkansas.net