Today in History:

Life After the Civil War

The end of the war in 1865 brought a welcome peace, especially for the men who served as soldiers. Armies were disbanded and regiments mustered out of service. Former soldiers returned to the farms and stores they had left so long ago, but the memories of their service and old comrades did not disappear quite so rapidly. In the decade following the end of the Civil War, organizations of veterans of the North and South were formed. Northern veterans joined the Grand Army of the Republic and Confederate veterans enrolled in the United Confederate Veterans. For many years, G.A.R. posts and U.C.V. chapters met over reunion campfires retelling stories and recalling the friends who did not return. Many veterans wrote articles, stories, and poems for the magazines of both organizations. The G.A.R. and U.C.V. held powerful influence in political circles from 1878 through the turn of the century, but their influence faded as veterans in congress retired and passed out of politics. The last hurrah for both organizations came at Gettysburg in 1913 when 54,000 veterans attended the 1913 Anniversary celebration and Grand Reunion, and both organizations formally joined in a singular purpose of national unification and peace. America's involvement in the Great War (World War I) four years later brought hundreds of aged "Yanks" and "Johnnies" out to march together in military parades for one last time before they quickly faded into the background as the nation's attention focused on her "doughboys" serving in Europe.

Though the Civil War veterans faded away, the armies in which they once marched were forever honored by the parks they helped establish at Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Chickamauga and Gettysburg.