Marker is located on Vermont Avenue, in the grounds of the Absecon Lighthouse
From September 19 to 24 1910, about 45 years after the last shot of the Civil War was fired, the 44th National Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Encampment (convention) was held in Atlantic City. The G.A.R., a Union (Northern) Civil War veteran's organization, had in attendance over 18,000 of its 214,000 members arriving from across the nation, many still suffering from wounds inflicted decades before in the War Between the States. The days of the gathering were marked by parades, and meetings for the Encampment were held at Steel, Million Dollar, Steeplechase, and Young's Ocean piers. Among the notable Civil War veterans in attendance were Major General Daniel E. Sickles, Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, and Johnny Clem, the famous "Drummer Boy of Chickamauga."
It was the only time in the 83-year history of the Grand Army of the Republic that a National Encampment was held in New Jersey.
The Grand Army of the Republic was the nation's largest organization of Union veterans. Encampments were important events amongst Civil War veterans and their families, and Atlantic City had been campaigning to host one for many years before the GAR finally arrived in the seaside resort in 1910. When it did, Atlantic City did not disappoint. A huge variety of events were held in virtually every section of the city, including sightseeing tours, religious services, parades, meetings of several GAR organizations, and a general reunion amongst fellow troops, some of whom had not seen each other since the end of the war. The local press also reported on the presence of the "Custer Gun" (aka Custer Cannon), a cannon made of melted-down relics from various Civil War battles, which had been brought to 28 different encampments. This artifact unfortunately became lost to history some time in the 1920s. Several inspiring moments occurred during the events. When General "Fighting Dan" Sickles, who was confined to a wheelchair, was presented with a chest of silver, four fellow veterans lifted him up onto the stage, chair and all, to be honored. General Hilary Herbert, a former Confederate soldier, addressed the GAR veterans poignantly, declaring, "Had I been told when I was in Antietam, that in years to come I would stand side by side with Federal soldiers and grasp the Stars and Stripes with them, I would have been insulted. But I love the old flag now." When the Encampment's 100th anniversary took place in 2010, the occasion was marked by a short parade from Garden Pier to the Absecon Lighthouse, where the current historic marker was unveiled. The location was chosen because the lighthouse had been constructed by George Meade, a Civil War veteran who commanded the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. Events also included historic reenactments by those wishing to preserve the history of the Civil War and the memory of the Encampment which brought its importance to life in Atlantic City.
For more information, see articles from:
Atlantic City Press, August 16, 2010
Courier Post, September 22, 2010
Atlantic Review, September 19, 1910 and September 21, 1910