1886: Arthur Bull joins the Grand Army of the Republic

Sepia Saturday 402: Second in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

On 21 July 1886 — seven months after receiving his Union Army pension — my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull, 52, mustered into the Grand Army of the Republic in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.

Grand Army of the Republic medal. As a Union Army veteran of the 6th NY Heavy Artillery — and a member of Nathan Crosby Post 550 of the GAR in Salamanca, N.Y. — my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull was authorized to wear one of these medals on his uniform. Image: Wikipedia

Having recently moved to Salamanca from the Adirondacks, he probably missed the colleagues, friends and family that he and his wife Mary left behind.

What better way to make connections at his new home than by signing up with a fraternal organization of Civil War veterans who were around his age, shared similar wartime experiences and faced the same pension challenges?

Nathan Crosby Post 550

Specifically, my ancestor joined Nathan Crosby Post 550 of the Department of New York, Grand Army of the Republic — headquartered in Salamanca, N.Y.

He appears as A. T. Bull on the membership roster in the post’s Descriptive Book, which is filed at the New York State Archives — and also available online as digital images at New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931.[1]New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931,N. Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book, entry no. 30, A.T. Bull, digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 12 January … Continue reading

From entries in the Descriptive Book, it appears that Post 550 was founded in April 1885 by a group of about twenty Salamanca Civil War veterans from various ranks and regiments of the Union Army. Over time the post grew to thirty-seven members as more locals — as well as new arrivals like my ancestor — mustered in.

My ancestor’s details

The Descriptive Book used by Post 550 appears to be standard issue, with printed ledger column headings to facilitate handwritten entries. The table below excerpts the penned listing for my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull, member No. 30.

Arthur T. Bull listing in the Descriptive Book of Nathan Crosby Post 550 NYS GAR – Salamanca, N.Y. – Source: Ancestry.com – New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931[2]Ibid.
No. Name Age Birthplace Residence Occupation
30 A.T. Bull 52 Greene Co., NY Salamanca Tanner
Entry into the Service
Date Rank Co. Regiment
Jan. 4th, 1864 Private F H. A. NY
Final Discharge
Date Rank Co. Regiment Length of Service Cause of Discharge
Aug. 24th, 1865 Private F H. A. NY 1 year 2 m. General Order
Date of Muster into the GAR: July 21st, 1886

I was grateful to find this GAR information about my ancestor Arthur Bull — particularly since he probably provided the information himself, lending accuracy to the particulars.

Here we find Arthur’s age, birthplace, occupation and military service details — all of which reinforce what I have learned about him from other sources.

Of special interest

Of special interest is his service time, given in the book as 1 year 2 months. This is shorter than the 1-year-7-month period between when Arthur entered and mustered out of the Union Army.

However, he was was away in hospital for war-related illness for a total of about five months. Did the GAR only count active, front-line duty when registering members?

The other new  information is Arthur’s 21 July 1886 muster date into the GAR — which shows him integrating into Salamanca, N.Y., community life by joining the veterans’ group after his move there.

What more can I learn about my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and the GAR? More in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1 New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931,N. Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book, entry no. 30, A.T. Bull, digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 12 January 2018). Paid login required.
2 Ibid.

11 thoughts on “1886: Arthur Bull joins the Grand Army of the Republic”

  1. You’ve done a great job, including elucidating that the GAR mustered people into it! I had to go to some of your earlier posts to discover what H.A. NY meant…heavy artillery.
    Thanks for a glimpse into one ancestor’s life.

  2. I toured a Civil War Museum yesterday in Gordonsville, VA. It was a hotel used as a receiving hospital during the war. Over 70,000 Confederate AND Union soldiers were treated there. If your ancestor had a war-related illness, that was not good. But based on what I learned, I would say he was lucky not to get shot in the stomach or head because there was nothing to be done and those soldiers were left to die .

  3. I often use GAR records too when searching for names of men who are identified on cdvs and cabinet cards in my collection. In earlier times, veterans had always been poorly served in regard to government promised benefits, and the post-Civil War era was no different. The scale of the war was so large that it was a tremendous cost to the states and federal governments, even for relatively small protections that soldiers were then given. The GAR became a very powerful advocate and political group in that reconstruction era. Sadly the corresponding southern group, the United Confederate Veterans, didn’t get started until 1889 and did not preserve the same kinds of records.

  4. I think your right that the 5 month gap must relate to his injury. It really is a fascinating period of American history. Thank you for sharing your research.

    1. Thanks, Marilyn. If you click on Arthur Bull or U.S. Civil War in my category list at the left, there are more posts you might find interesting.

  5. I would probably think of a number of soldiers being mustered into something or somewhere, like sheep are mustered (not meaning to imply in any way that soldiers are like sheep of course), rather than them mustering themselves.

  6. Your post is very interesting. I had not come across the term mustered in before. I am glad that it was obvious from your blogpost what was meant. If the husbands were members were the wives involved? Thanks for posting.

    1. Good question. I am not sure about the role of wives, or whether there was a women’s auxiliary of some sort. My next post will discuss the GAR in more detail, so I’ll see what I can find.

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