Grand Army of the Republic Monument (Siloam Springs)
The Grand Army of the Republic Monument located in Twin Springs Park in Siloam Springs (Benton County) was erected in 1928 by the S. R. Curtis Post No. 9 of the Grand Army of the Republic’s Arkansas Department. It is one of three such monuments known to have been erected in Arkansas, the others being in Gentry (Benton County) and Judsonia (White County).
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a national organization of Union Civil War veterans initially formed to help the widows and orphans of fallen Union servicemen and to support the Republican Party; it later focused on promoting patriotic activities and decorating the graves of the war dead. The first GAR camp was established in Decatur, Illinois, in 1866, and the organization held its first encampment at Indianapolis, Indiana, in the same year. By 1867, GAR posts were established in most northern states as well as in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, the latter primarily consisting of African-American veterans. Membership languished in the 1870s but saw a resurgence in the late nineteenth century.
The GAR’s Department of Arkansas chartered at least 123 GAR posts over the years, including the S. R. Curtis Post No. 9 in Siloam Springs. While it has been widely believed that the post was named in honor of Major General Samuel R. Curtis, who won a major 1862 battle at nearby Pea Ridge (Benton County), documents from the post show the name Simon R. Curtis on its letterhead. Little, if anything, is known about the latter.
S. R. Curtis Post No. 9 was chartered in 1884, and by 1889 it had 109 members, led by Post Commander Lewis Simmons and Post Adjutant E. D. Feno. The Reverend John Woodruff, who had served as a chaplain in the Eightieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, was a prominent member. Benton County also had GAR posts in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Pea Ridge, Sulphur Springs, Garfield, Gentry, and Nebo (later Gravette).
The Curtis Post remained strong into early twentieth century. The Arkansas Department held its twentieth annual encampment in Siloam Springs in 1902, and the chapter was among Arkansas’s top five posts for dues-paying members in 1902 and 1903. Membership in the GAR declined as the old soldiers died, and by 1915 only twenty-six posts remained in Arkansas, including the posts at Bentonville, Rogers, Gentry, and Siloam Springs. The Siloam Springs post must have remained particularly vibrant, as it unveiled a large monument in the city’s Twin Springs Park in 1928.
The three-tiered monument stands nearly twelve feet tall and is engraved with the GAR emblem, the words “In God We Trust,” and an elaborate carving of a wreath and an eagle atop crossed cannon and a ring with the words, “Preserved by the Grace of God.” The Siloam Springs Grand Army of the Republic Memorial is further enhanced by a Maltese Cross and the words “Women’s Relief Corps 1883,” a reference to the GAR’s ladies’ auxiliary. This is the only mention of the Women’s Relief Corps on Arkansas’s three known GAR monuments.
While all of the GAR’s members are long gone, the Grand Army of the Republic Monument stands in Siloam Springs’ Twin Springs Park as a reminder of one of Arkansas’s most prominent Union veterans’ organizations. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1996.
For additional information:
The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwestern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1898.
Grand Army of the Republic Records Project. http://www.garrecords.org (accessed November 21, 2017).
Logan, Charles Russell. “Something So Dim It Must Be Holy”: Civil War Commemorative Sculpture in Arkansas, 1886–1934. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1996. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed November 21, 2017).
Roster of the Department of Arkansas, Grand Army of the Republic, 1915. Little Rock: Mitchell & Bettis, 1915.
Slater, John. “Grand Army of the Republic Memorial.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/BE3503S.nr.pdf (accessed November 21, 2017).
Smith, Maggie. “Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Monuments in Benton County.” Benton County Pioneer 41 (January–March 1996): 12–13.
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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