Museum Special Exhibit Online - May 2010
Civil War Collection report by Nirmal K.
A few of the buttons shown in the diagram are the G.A.R. Buttons, the By vol. Cavalry Jamestown Button, and the Union Veteran Button. Each of these badges are very significant. The G.A.R. stands for the Grand Army of the Republic. The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization formed after the Civil War for veterans who served in the war. It served to network and maintain connections with each other. Many of the veterans wished to keep in contact with each other, using their shared experiences as a basis for fellowship. The War created many friends between army members so many of them wanted to continue their friendships which was what was done through the Grand Army of the Republic. The organization also served as a way to honor former Union veterans. As a tribute to their services, the members of the Grand Army of the Republic were given a star shaped badge on their graves to commend their braveries. Over time, many of these badges were stolen, but the Bedford Historical Society has managed to keep two such metals.
The By vol. Cavalry Jamestown Button is to commemorate former veteran Jamestown Cavalry members (volunteer). Jamestown, being in the South, was a Confederate state so the metal was actually a Confederate badge. Cavalry members' jobs were to travel ahead of the army and be constantly vigilant on enemy movement. They were said to be the "eyes and ears of the army." The cavalry constantly had a chance at being ambushed or flanked so this was a dangerous job. The volunteer aspect of the badge means that the soldier was likely a farmer who had enlisted in this job without prior experience of training.
The last badge is the Union Veteran Metal. This was given to former veterans who had served in the Union Army. This badge is similar to the Grand Army of the Republic Badge, but this was given by the government. The Grand Army of the Republic was a private organization. So many soldiers received both badges. All three of these badges are used to commemorate former soldiers and their bravery.
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