Grand Army of the Republic Monument (Judsonia)
The Grand Army of the Republic Monument located in the north-central section of Evergreen Cemetery in Judsonia (White County) was erected in 1894 by the W. T. Sherman Post No. 84 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It is one of three such monuments known to have been erected in Arkansas, the others being in Siloam Springs (Benton County) and Gentry (Benton County).
The Grand Army of the Republic 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 upon 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 W. T. Sherman Post No. 84 in Judsonia, named in honor of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. In 1894, the Sherman Post would erect one of three GAR memorials known to exist in Arkansas. The ceremony at which it was dedicated indicates that the people of Judsonia had come to terms with the divisions of the war: the sheet covering the monument was removed by Ethel Newman and Carly Kinney, daughters of Union soldiers, and Nell Young and Laura Hanson, whose fathers had fought for the Confederacy.
The obelisk, designed by the Morriss Brothers firm of Memphis, Tennessee, is inscribed on it east side with “G. A. R.” and a carved eagle resting on a sword and nine cannonballs, which sit atop on a five-pointed star—the GAR’s emblem. The south face is inscribed “ERECTED / BY / W. T. SHERMAN, / POST ’70. 84. / G. A. R. / 1894.” The west face has a relief of two crossed flags and the inscription “IN MEMORY OF THE / DEFENDERS OF THE / UNION / 1861 – 1865.” The bottom of the north base features the manufacturer’s name, “MORRISS BROS. / MEMPHIS,” and a relief carving of two crossed swords. The thirteen-foot-tall monument is topped by a stone cannonball. The post-war graves of sixteen Union veterans are located near the memorial.
Membership in the Grand Army of the Republic declined as the old soldiers died, and by 1915 only twenty-six posts remained in Arkansas. The W. T. Sherman Post’s charter had apparently moved, as a 1915 roster of the state’s GAR posts shows it was located in De Queen (Sevier County) under Commander W. O. Breeden and Adjutant Moses Stinnett. The Grand Army of the Republic Monument stands in Judsonia’s Evergreen Cemetery as a reminder of the Sherman Post’s late-nineteenth-century status in the community. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1996.
For additional information:
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).
Orr, W. E. That’s Judsonia: An Informal History of a Small Town in Arkansas. Judsonia, AR: White County Printing Co., 1957.
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/WH1702S.nr.pdf (accessed November 21, 2017).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated: 11/21/2017