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Maps on Parade
“We are assembled in this, the forty-first National Encampment, in one of the historic cities of the Empire State, the guests of generous people.” -Robert B. Brown, Commander-in-Chief of the 41st National Encampment of the G.A.R.
Saratoga has turned out for its share of parades, from late nineteenth-century Floral Fetes and funeral processions to civic organizations’ events. Such ephemeral events, however, rarely get fixed on a map.
An outstanding exception is the 1907 Map of the 41st National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), an organization of Union army Civil War veterans whose meetings celebrated what Commander-in-Chief Robert B. Brown called “the heroic deeds of other days … more and more estimated at their true worth as years go on.” Much committee work for the G.A.R.’s 1,618 members involved establishing Civil War memorials such as the one now standing inside Congress Park.
The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for veterans of the Union army from the Civil War, held encampments in different American cities every few years. Saratoga Springs had two G.A.R. posts, the oldest dating back to 1877, along with many other organizations such as political clubs and the Knights of Columbus.
The Saratoga Springs encampment included a parade, followed by a formal meeting at the Saratoga Springs Convention Hall for the 1,618 members who attended. Many speeches during the meeting emphasized members’ sacrifices during the Civil War, which kept the country together. As the Commander-in-Chief, Robert B. Brown said “the heroic deeds of other days are by them more and more estimated at their true worth as years go on.” Perhaps the welcome Saratogians gave the encampment during the September 11th parade was testament to how veterans were becoming more respected with time. Much of the meeting also focused on committees who were working to establish various memorials for Civil War heroes, such as the one located outside of Congress Park at the turn of the twentiehth century.
It is not clear why Saratoga Springs was chosen as the site of the Forty-First encampment, but the location did earn mention in Brown’s speech. Brown says, “we are assembled in this, the forty-first National Encampment, in one of the historic cities of the Empire State, the guests of generous people.” He goes on to say that, not far away, “our loved Chieftain fought his last battle in this life,” referring to U.S. Grant’s death at Mount McGregor.
Most maps show us a static moment in time; the G.A.R. parade map shows an event and suggests movement . An arrow hand points to where the parade starts, at Woodlawn Park (Detail 1). Major attractions of the time are highlighted along the parade route, including churches, hotels, the town hall, and the Convention Hall, which is described on the map as the G.A.R. headquarters (Detail 2). The map even marks churches, like the Second Baptist Church and the Second Presbyterian Church, that are not on the parade route, suggesting that these were especially important locations at the time (Detail 3). A photo taken of the parade shows that, despite the rain, many people came out to watch, suggesting again that this was a very important event for the village (Figure 2).
 “Grand Army of the Republic History,” Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, National Headquarters, accessed November 24, 2014, http://www.suvcw.org/?page_id=167.
 The Saratogian, Directory of Saratoga Springs: Village and Town, Including The Geysers and Saratoga Lake, (Saratoga Springs: The Saratogian, 1905), 12-13, Saratoga Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library.
 Journal of the Forty-First National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic: Saratoga Springs, New York, September 11th and 12th, 1907 (Zanesville: The Courier Company, 1907), 4. Available at Googlebooks.
 Journal of the Forty-First National Encampment, 61.
 Journal of the Forty-First National Encampment, 68.
 Journal of the Forty-First National Encampment, 62-63.
 Entertainment Committee of the Forty-First Encampment of G.A.R. Map of Saratoga Springs with Principal Streets and Points of Interest [map], 1907, scale not given, Saratoga Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library.
 George S. Bolster. G.A.R. Nat. Encampment Parade at Saratoga, Sept. 11, 1907. Photo. Courtesy of the George S. Bolster Collection, Saratoga Springs Historical Society.