The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army (United States Army), Union Navy (U.S. Navy), Marines and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Springfield, Illinois, and growing to include hundreds of posts (local community units) across the nation (predominately in the North, but also a few in the South and West), it was dissolved in 1956 at the death of its last member, Albert Woolson (1850–1956) of Duluth, Minnesota.
Linking men through their experience of the war, the G.A.R. became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, lobbying the United States Congress to establish regular veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Its peak membership, at 410,000, was in 1890, a high point of various Civil War commemorative and monument dedication ceremonies.
It was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), composed of male descendants of Union Army and Union Navy veterans. ~From Wikipedia.
The Confederate States of America (informally, the Confederacy) was a government created from an alliance of eleven southern states which had seceded from the United States between December 1860 and April 1861. The American Civil War that was begun by the Confederate shelling of Fort Sumter proved disastrous; four years of savage fighting ended with the fledgling government defeated and dissolved, and left the southern states a financial and industrial wreck. The main reason for secession was to preserve slavery—but all the slaves were emancipated with no compensation to the owners. After the war, the states were later readmitted during Reconstruction. For the social, political, economic and diplomatic history see American Civil War homefront. ~From Conservapedia.
Providing headstones for America’s fallen soldiers is a tradition that goes back to laws passed in 1867 and 1873 that ordered the Department of War to properly establish national cemeteries and furnish graves with headstones … It wasn’t until the 20th century, though, that Confederate veterans were included in this tradition. It started with legislation passed in 1906, at first providing headstones for a very limited number of Confederate veterans, specifically prisoners of war, “who died in Federal prisons and military hospitals in the North and who were buried near their places of confinement.” That mandate for the Department of War was expanded to all Confederate graves with a law passed in 1929.
Responsibility for headstones was transferred to the VA in the National Cemeteries Act of 1973, which declared, “The Administrator shall furnish, when requested, appropriate Government headstones or markers at the expense of the United States for the unmarked graves of” a number of categories of veterans and those who’d served the country or were buried in a national cemetery, including specifically, “Soldiers of the Union and Confederate Armies of the Civil War.”
It’s no coincidence that many of these changes in attitude and law, and the erection of so many Confederate monuments and memorials, occurred around the turn of the 20th century. They followed the federal withdrawal from the South in 1877, a strategic retreat from the failed policies of reconstruction.
When a debate over Confederate monuments and flags came under the national spotlight in June 2015, codified changes in burials and pensions enacted in 1929 and 1958 were puffed up to suggest that a nebulous act of Congress, either in the 1920s or the 1950s, officially declared that Confederate soldiers were the same as United States veterans in the eyes of the federal government. However, no legislation either explicitly or implicitly granted Confederate soldiers status as United States veterans. Survivors of dead Confederate soldiers often took offense at measures appearing to equate them to Union soldiers, objections that died off as Southerners from the Civil War era did. ~From Snopes 24 Aug 2017