Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, May 26, 2019, pg. 11
I encourage our readers to attend the various Memorial Day parades and services being held throughout our communities on Monday, May 27. Memorial Day of course has its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War. One of Albionís most prominent Civil War veterans was the Hon. Washington Gardner (1845-1928). Gardner was a local Methodist minister here, who subsequently went into public service. He served as Michiganís Secretary of State from 1894 to 1899, and as our U.S. Congressman (3rd District of Michigan) from 1899 to 1911.
Gardner also served as the Commander-in-Chief of the national Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in 1913-14, the Civil War veteransíorganization. The GARís 1914 annual Encampment was held in Detroit the first week of September that year. Attendees at the Convention wore a representativeís badge consisting of four parts. The bottom part was a 40 mm. diameter, 3 mm. thick brass medal containing the image of Gardner, and the legend "HON. WASHINGTON GARDNER COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF G.A.R." The reverse is blank, except for the name of the minters in small print at the bottom which stated, "Bastian Bros. Co. Rochester, N.Y." You can read the May 27, 2007 reprint of this column here.
In addition to the representativeís badge, there was issued a special GAR Commander staff badge. This was issued for and worn only by the approximately 13 or so members of Washington Gardnerís personal staff. Members of the Commanderís staff gave reports at the Encampment and assisted him in his work. In addition to this badge, the Commanderís staff also wore one silver star on their officer straps.
The thirteen members of Washington Gardnerís staff consisted of: Thomas H. Soward of Oklahoma, A. S. Fowler, of Arkansas, J. K. Weaver of Pennsylvania, Horace M. Carr of Kansas, Oscar A. Janes of Michigan, D. R. Stowits of New York, P. H. Coney of Kansas, Levi S. Warren of Albion, Michigan, Levi Longfellow of Minnesota, Frank R. Chase, Georgia A. Newman of Iowa, J. Henry Holcomb of Pennsylvania, and Orville J. Nave of California.
The staff medal badge (same size and metal content) contains a yellow ribbon which joins the looped medal and features a 53 mm. wide flourish clasp pin on top that states "DETROIT." The total length is approximately 85 mm. The obverse is the same as the representativeís badge in both portrait and legend, except it does not have the prefix "HON." (for "Honorable" before Gardnerís name. The spacing for that prefix, however, is there. It is surmised that the prefix "Hon." wasnít appropriate here, and it was therefore removed for the striking of this staff medal.
The reverse contains the added text, "COMMANDER-IN-CHIEFíS STAFF COMRADES 48th NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT G.A.R. 1914." In small print at the bottom appears "BASTIAN BROS. CO. ROCHESTER N.Y." From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Washington Gardner staff medal badge. In 1928, our local high school was named after Gardner, just several weeks before his death. How many of our readers went to Washington Gardner High School in Albion?
Washington Gardner, Staff Badge in 1914
Washington Gardner, Staff Badge REVERSE
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic