Badge of the Department of Louisiana and Mississippi, Grand Army of the Republic
This badge belonged to a member of the Department of Louisiana and Mississippi of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Founded in 1866, the GAR was a fraternal organization of veterans who served in the Union forces during the American Civil War. Thus, the GAR member owning this badge would have been a veteran from Louisiana or Mississippi who served with the Union, instead of the Confederacy. Made by C.G. Braxmar, the badge features a mother pelican feeding her young to represent Louisiana; this symbol is found on Louisiana’s state seal and flag. The cotton bale on the hanger presumably represents Mississippi.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin Stephenson and Chaplain William J. Rutledge founded the Grand Army of the Republic. The two served together in the 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and were tent mates during Sherman’s Expedition to Meridian, Mississippi, in February 1864.
The GAR was organized into departments on the state level and posts on the local level. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas formed the Department of the Gulf on May 15, 1884. Posts in Texas detached from the Department of the Gulf, and the name was changed to the Department of Louisiana and Mississippi on June 13, 1888. The GAR dissolved in 1956.