G.A.R. George H. Legate Post #125 Records

Name of the Collection

G.A.R. George H. Legate Post #125 Records, 1862-1931
Accession #2001.05 and 2003.14
.63 cubic feet

Provenance of the Collection

The contents were created by the officers of the Mineral Point G.A.R. Post #125.  At an unknown date the collection came into the possession of Sidney E. Shepard, a Civil War veteran and member of the Post.  In 2001, the records were donated, along with the Sidney E. Shepard Civil War Papers, by Gordon H. Shepard, Sidney Shepard's grandson.  In 2003, Milton Nelson donated two re-bound Roster of the Dead books.  There is no information as to how Mr. Nelson came into possession of the books.

Organizational History

After the American Civil War (1861-1865), returning veterans were left to their own or their community's resources to cope with everything from lost jobs and farms to crippling injuries.  In addition, the war left hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans.  While the United States government pledged to remember its soldiers and sailors, there was no organized plan or a coordinated body to help veterans get the help they needed.

On April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, Benjamin Stephenson founded a fraternal group open to any man who had been honorably discharged from any branch of the American Union armed service.  He named it the Grand Army of the Republic or G.A.R.  The national organization was divided into “Departments” usually on a state level and then into “Posts” within each Department.  The Posts were numbered sequentially as they were founded within a Department and given a name in honor of a fallen comrade.  The national G.A.R. soon became a social force that founded veteran’s hospitals, secured pensions for widows and provided tombstones for servicemen who died after the war.  They also became a political force that made it impossible to run as a Republican without their endorsement.  In 1868, the G.A.R. issued General Order No.11 establishing May 30th as a day to remember fallen comrades.  This day is now known as Memorial Day.

The G.A.R. was dedicated to serving only Civil War veterans, unlike the Veterans of Foreign Wars (founded after the Spanish American War) and the American Legion (founded after World War I.)  When the last known Civil War veteran died, the organization ceased to exist.

Mineral Point veterans first organized a Post in 1868.  It only lasted for 5 years.  A group of veterans then organized the George H. Legate Post #125 in 1883.  George H. Legate was the son of Charles and Emmeline Legate of Mineral Point.  George was a Sergeant Major in Company I of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers, part of the “Iron Brigade.”  He was killed at the battle of Gettysburg and is buried there.  The post shared space with the Knights of Pythias in two locations in Mineral Point.  There was also a chapter of the Woman's Relief Corps in Mineral Point but no further information is available.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Series I, Administrative Records and Series II, Record Books.  Taken together the G.A.R. George H. Legate Post # 125 Records are a detailed picture of Mineral Point's involvement in the American Civil War.  It comprises an excellent statistical base for research into local Civil War participation as well as containing important references for genealogists and social historians.

Series I includes a cash book that is a pre-printed journal from the national G.A.R..  The Post kept this record from 1896 until it disbanded in 1931.  Series I also includes a booklet printed by the national G.A.R. on rules and regulations for conducting a Post, as well as a booklet on the Rules of Order for a National Encampment, published by the G.A.R. in 1896.  Six sheets of letterhead may be found here and some obituaries of members.

Series II contains 4 books in which the Post recorded veterans who became members of the Post #125, the soldiers' death dates and places and biographical sketches of the members.

The first is the Descriptive Book.  It is a hard-bound ledger with pre-printed pages of 25 columns on every two pages.  It was produced and titled by the national G.A.R..  In the George H. Legate Post #125 book are 138 civil war soldiers who, at one time or another, belonged to this G.A.R. Post.  The soldiers are not listed in alphabetical order.  The book has entries from 1883 through 1920.  Not all entries are complete. The Descriptive Book's 25 columns cover the following information:

  • A sequential number
  • Name of soldier
  • Age at time of entry into book
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Date member entered service
  • Rank upon entry into service
  • Company entered into
  • Regiment entered into
  • Date of final discharge from service
  • Rank at time of discharge
  • Company from which soldier was discharged
  • Regiment from which soldier was discharged
  • Length of service
  • Cause of discharge from service
  • Date of muster into G.A.R.
  • Date of honorably discharged from this post
  • Date of suspension from this post
  • Date when named was dropped from the post records
  • Date when member was dismissed from this post
  • Date when ex-member was reinstated
  • Nature of wounds during combat
  • When and in what battle were the wounds received
  • Remarks

Also in Series II are the Rosters of the Dead.  These are two sets of 2 volumes, 7.5”x 9.5”, leather bound journals.  They are not official notebooks from the national GAR.  They appear to be purposeful duplicates because they are nearly identical but in a few places contain slightly different information on some of the men.  The four books do not always contain the same number of men.  The largest total is 288 men.  The names are not in alphabetical order.  The soldiers listed include local men who served and were killed in battle during the war or died of disease before they could make it home.  The Rosters list men who were members of the George H. Legate Post #125, including those who moved away.  Each Roster lists the men twice.

Each page within a Roster is divided into 5 columns. The 5 columns include:

  • A sequential number
  • Name of the soldier
  • Whether he was killed in battle or died of wounds or disease
  • Place of death
  • Date of death

The entries are organized by Company and Regiment for 4 Wisconsin Infantry Volunteer Regiments.  There are also lists of soldiers who served elsewhere with their company, regiment and state identified.

The companies included in “Book One”, lists 1 and 2 are:

  • Co I, 2nd Infantry Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers (WIV) (44 & 44 men listed)
  • Co E, 11th Infantry Regiment, WIV (63 & 65 men listed)
  • Co B, 30th Infantry Regiment, WIV (31 & 32 men listed)
  • Co E, 30th Infantry Regiment, WIV (45 &44 men listed)
  • Miscellaneous Dead identified by State, Company and
  • Regiment (100 & 102 men listed)

The companies included in “Book Two”, lists 1 and 2 are:

  • Co I, 2nd Infantry Regiment, WIV (43 & 44 men listed)
  • Co E, 11th Infantry Regiment, WIV (63 & 64 men listed)
  • Co B, 30th Infantry Regiment, WIV (31 & 32 men listed)
  • Co E, 30th Infantry Regiment, WIV (45 & 44 men listed)
  • Miscellaneous Dead identified by State, Company and Regiment (96 & 102 men listed)

The last record book in Series II is a large, leather bound, pre-printed book with a title embossed in gold on the front.  The full title is G.A.R. Department of Wisconsin Personal Sketches of the members of George H. Legate Post # 125 Mineral Point.  The book, which measures 12.5” x 17” was donated to the Post #125 in 1890 by Phillip Allen, Jr, W. Eastman, William A. Jones, Mrs. Mary Snow, Mrs. Annie (James) Spensley and Phillip Allen, Sr.

The book contains 213 pages beginning with an Index to the names of the men who have provided a military biography of themselves.  Names of 69 men are indexed but there are 135 biographical sketches.  Each page has a place for the member's name, birth date and place and date they joined the George H. Legate Post #125.  Many of the biographies are minimal.  the end of the book are Post resolutions upon the death of a comrade (4) and a “Record of Burial” (23)



Box Inventory of the Collection

Box # Contents of Folders Date Span
Series I. Administrative Files
1 Cash Book 1896-1931
1 G.A.R. Rules and Regulations no date
1 Rules of Order for a National Encampment 1896
1 Letterhead no date
1 Newspaper obituaries file 1862-1931, n.d.
Series II. Record Books
1 Descriptive Book 1883-1920
1 Roster of the Dead, Book 1 1862-1923
1 Roster of the Dead, Book 2 1862-1922
OV1 Personal Sketches of Members 1890-1901

Collection Arranged by Shan Thomas, 2016
Finding Guide Written by Shan Thomas, 2018