G.A.R. and Francis S Long Post 30
by Pete Zizka


Many people living in Willimantic/Windham today have never had the opportunity to see the “Parrot Guns”  that were on the lawn or the oversized “G.A.R” letters that were on the windows on the High Street side of the Town Hall. The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R..) was an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War and was formed in 1866.  In Windham, the Francis S. Long Post, No. 30, G. A. R., was organized March 30th, 1881. Captain Long was a Willimantic native who served in the 21st Connecticut Volunteers and who died in Petersburg in 1864. On September 26, 1896, the G.A.R. members became the first occupants of the new Town Hall as they began moving their furnishings and equipment from their old hall in the Loomer Opera House. The town of Windham had provided the hall to the G.A.R. as a memorial to “the soldiers of Windham who served in the War of the Rebellion”. (An interesting side note is that the Town of Windham, unlike almost every other town, had no Civil War monument. One that had been intended for Willimantic became caught up in the controversy over whether or not to build a new town hall. The monument meant for Willimantic thus ended up in New London. Windham tried to make up for this by providing the G.A.R. with a hall. ) The Parrott guns had been donated to the G.A.R.  post in 1900 through the influence of Congressman Russell. The cost of the carriages on which the guns were to be mounted as well as the expense of mounting them was underwritten by “voluntary subscription” of the members. G.A.R. members in Windham were tremendous advocates of promoting loyalty. They went to one meeting of the school board and asked that the schools promote patriotism by holding special exercises around the time of Washington’s birthday, Lincoln’s birthday and other national holidays. The members themselves often went to the schools to give speeches and addresses, “instilling in the minds of the pupils a spirit of loyalty to the flag and patriotism”. The G.A.R.. was primarily responsible for the observance of Decoration Day, now called Memorial Day. The national G.A.R. Commander,  General Logan had sent out a request that on May 30, 1868, all G.A.R. members would go to cemeteries and decorate the graves of their fallen comrades. Today’s photos show one of the Parrott Guns and the  G.A.R letters. (part 2 next week) For questions or comments about this  week’s photo or article, please e-mail us at “threadcity@outlook.com”.


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