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G.A.R. and Related Badges, Buttons, Pins and Ribbons

This website is dedicated to the memory of those who served their country in the Union Army, 1861 - 1865,
with respect to their equally dedicated opponents.


This collection was given to me by my Grandfather, Albert Starkweather Norton. His grandfather was Albert S. Norton, and he belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic. He served for 9 months in the 21st New Jersey Volunteers. He participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, and then was sick with Typhoid (or Typhus?) and Pleuracy. When hardly recovered, he went into the second battle of Fredericksburg (Chancellorsville). After the city was captured, as part of the battle of Salem Church, he was taken prisoner and sent to Belle Island. He came down with rheumatism because of the exposure, and was crippled with it for the rest of his life.

He and his family seem to have been active in the G.A.R. In something he wrote for his disability pension application, he mentioned that he saw one of his comrades 'every year,' and I take this as an indication that he went to annual encampment events. He became more and more disabled over time, but the rheumatism was worst in Winter, and these events were usually on the fourth of July, so he may still have been able to travel to them. He died in 1899, and many of the pins are later dates than that, so his wife Sarah E. Norton and his children seem to have continued to be active.

Most of the pins I have used to have ribbons attached, but these deteriorated over time and most of them were thrown away.

To see the encampment and post badges, click here. To see the monument dedication buttons and ribbons, click here. To see buttons and miscellaneous other items, click here.

It is possible that they may have traded with people for other badges, like I did when I went to a Boy Scout National Jamboree, or maybe even picked up discarded ones. We have no family tradition to explain them. But since I can only guess, I am going to assume that all of these badges belonged to the Nortons.

I have tried to supply what links I can to go along with all the images. My research is ongoing, so check back once in a while! I will be greatful to anyone who can supply me with more information. Write to me!

Maybe you might like to read my novel? Or read it in Irish? It's based on the life of my Civil War ancestor William Keane (actually they are both in it).

Here are some more pictures that people have sent me over the years.

Visit the Grand Army of the Republic Home Page at this link to learn all about the G.A.R., and the encampments. There is also a nice picture of all the national encampment ribbons (although quite small), the membership badge, officers' badges, and lots more. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War also have an excellent site, which shows the membership badge.

The encampments and dedications were all within reach of a train ride. These events were a great outing, with speaches and big meals. These were the days before radio and T.V., and along with the patriotism and loyalty to the men with whom they served, veterans and many others came to these events because they were a lot of fun.

The G.A.R. post in Jersey City was named after Albert S. Norton's commanding officer, Colonel Gilliam Van Houten, who died from his wounds near Salem Church. There were other NJ posts named for his corps commander, General John Sedgwick, who was killed later, at Spottsylvania. I don't know which post he belonged to, but I would think the one in Jersey City.

Souvenir Souvenir Souvenir

Read about my other Civil War ancestor, William Keane.

The background image on these pages is the Union Cemetery on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg