Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project

Maps on Parade

1907 GAR Parade

GAR Nat. Encampment Parade, September
11,1907; George S. Bolster Collection

“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. 

Map of Saratoga Springs with principal streets and points of interest issued by the entertainment committee of the Forty-First National Encampment of the G.A.R., to be held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Sept. 9 to 16, 1907.

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.

Congress Park entrance, ca.1900The 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.[1] 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.[2] 

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.[3] 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.”[4] 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.[5]