Area vets formed posts of the Grand Army of the Republic
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
But the time is approaching when the dark boatman with muffled oar will have borne the last comrade of the Grand Army across the river, and all our names will be recorded on the headstones marking the last resting place of physical man. The future historian will furnish to the world from preserved documents all that shall be known of our brief day.
” E.K. Stimson, speech to the Grand Army of the Republic Encampment of the state of Colorado, January 1884
E.K. Stimson’s speech crystallized the realities known by every military man. Life on the battlefield was often brief. The days for those surviving war were numbered. And each veteran had the responsibility to record his experiences and sacrifices to pass on to future generations.
Stimson was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR. The GAR was a fraternal organization founded in 1866 comprised of Civil War Union Army veterans. Politically powerful, the GAR pushed for military pension legislation and for the formation of soldier retirement homes. The GAR had also called for a national day of memorial for Union Army veterans. Through their efforts, in 1868, May 30 was designated as that day and called Decoration Day. This day has since evolved to today’s nationally recognized Memorial Day.
In the years after the United States Civil War, veterans settled the American West. GAR posts were formed in many communities. In the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen veterans formed Winfield Scott Post No. 49, and Carbondale veterans formed Mount Sopris Post No. 68. In New Castle, veterans founded General Shields Post No. 78.
A small group of Union Army veterans formed the Winfield Scott Hancock Post No. 66 of the GAR in Glenwood Springs in the 1880s. These veterans chose to honor General Hancock, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, prominent general in the Battle of Gettysburg, overseer of the execution of the President Lincoln’s assassins, and 1880 Democratic nominee for the United States presidency.
Before the end of the 1880s, the community’s Civil War veterans began to pass. In April 1888, veteran Andrew Bennie died. Unfortunately for Bennie, little was recorded about his life or service to his country. He was buried in Glenwood’s Linwood Cemetery.
James M. Riland was 35 years old when he enlisted in H Company of the 16th Iowa Infantry in 1862. He was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh, and was noted for his distinguished military service. Although he survived the Civil War, Riland was murdered at his Sweetwater ranch near Glenwood Springs in August 1888. He, too, was laid to rest in Linwood Cemetery.
Anthony W. Lindsay enlisted in A Company of the 58th Indiana Infantry in 1861. As a drummer for A Company, Lindsay was required to learn 39 different cadences, with a majority used for marching. Like Andrew Bennie, little was know of Lindsay’s life when he died Oct. 12, 1890. He also was buried in Linwood Cemetery.
Colorado law required the marking of soldiers’ graves. In 1891 Garfield County purchased headstones for Bennie, Riland and Lindsay. Their markers were set in time for Decoration Day in May 1891.
As we observe this year’s Memorial Day, we hear E.K. Stimson’s voice from 125 years ago: “That while we live we see that the dead have not died in vain and that while we stand on guard, at least, our country shall be composed of a free and united people.”
Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448. “Frontier Diary” appears the first Tuesday of every month.
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