The afterlife of many Civil War soldiers centered on the Grand Army of the Republic. In an era in which fraternal organizations flourished and only men could vote, the GAR became a powerful political force as well as a place where veterans could socialize among fellow veterans and look to the needs of their one-time brothers-in-arms. The federal pension system that provided income to many of these men and their families was a forerunner of the social programs that serve all Americans today.
|John Wesley Adams, chaplain of the 2nd|
New Hampshire from late 1863 until the
regiment disbanded in December 1865.
Of course, the Civil War veterans are long gone, but in many towns and cities in New Hampshire and other Union states, GAR halls remain. Often put to new uses, they were once symbols of the strength of the various GAR chapters.
|Adams during the war.|
The chapter in Somersworth, in the eastern part of New Hampshire near the seacoast, was Littlefield Post No. 8. As of 1902, its membership was 68, and an inspector found it robust and active.
The other day, two of my re-enactor friends, Dave Morin and Dave Nelson, shared a collection of photographs of the old soldiers of the Somersworth area – men from both New Hampshire and Maine. Nelson photographed these images courtesy of the historian of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a still-active successor of the GAR.
|Jared P. Hubbard joined the 2nd New|
Hanpshire as a private in August
of 1862 and served until just after
the war's end. He made sergeant.
|Alonzo F. Austin of Somersworth was 18|
when he volunteered in 1862.
He served as a private in the 2nd for
nearly three years.
|Andrew G. Bracy. who was also 18 when|
he enlisted in 1861, rose to lieutenant.
He was wounded at the second battle
of Bull Run.
|Alden C. Kidder enlisted at 18 as a|
private at the start of the war. He was
captured at the first battle of Bull
Run. He served his 3-year term and
mustered out after Cold Harbor in 1864.