The William Archer GAR Post No. 28, Princeton, IN - 1880-1936+
The William Archer Post No. 28
Grand Army of the Republic, Princeton, IN
The History of GAR Post
of Gibson County, Her People, Industries and Institutions, by Gil R.
Stormont. B. F. Bowen &
Co., Inc., 1915. pp 248-255.
Application was made to Gen. James R.
Carnahan, then the department commander, for a charter, which was promptly
granted, and an order given to Major A. C. Rosencrans, of Evansville, to muster
the post at the convenience of both parties.
Accordingly, on the night of January 13, 1883,
Major Rosencrans, with a number of comrades from Farragut Post, Evansville, came
to Princeton and organized the post with the following charter members: Byron
Mills, Gil. R. Stormont, James J. Hartin, Theodore M. Bucklin, Silas M. Holcomb,
Samuel J. Wallace, James A. Sprowl, John E. Spencer, Samuel Sterne, Francis M.
Grigsby, Solomon Vannada, John Turnage, Albert Mills, Henry L. Chambers, Joseph
R. Ashmead, Alex. H. Anderson, William A. Munford, D. Hamilton Turner, William
J. Cameron, Samuel S. Shannon, Renwick C. Woods, James A. Mowery, Alex. N.
Devin, Joseph C. Hartin, Andrew J. Carithers, Pressly R. Baldridge, John J.
Hollis, B. Frank Taylor, Joseph D. McClure, A. D. Green, William M. Duncan,
William B. Whitsett.
The objects of the Grand Army, as set forth in
its constitution and fully subscribed to by the charter members of this post and
all who have since become members, are:
First. To preserve and strengthen those kind
and fraternal feelings which bind together the soldiers, sailors and marines,
who united to suppress the Rebellion.
Second. To assist such former comrades in arms
as need help and protection, and to extend needful aid to the widows and orphans
of those who have fallen.
Third. To maintain true allegiance to the
United States of America, based upon a paramount respect for and fidelity to the
national constitution and the laws; to discountenance whatever tends to weaken
loyalty, incites to insurrection, treason or rebellion, or in any way impairs
the efficiency and permanency of our free institutions; and to encourage the
spread of universal liberty, equal rights and justice to all men.
Officers were elected at this meeting and
other necessary action taken for a permanent organization. The post was numbered
28, the same as the number of the former post, and chose for its name and
designation Archer Post No. 28, Department of Indiana, Grand Army of the
The selection of the name of Archer Post was
most appropriate and commendable. William Archer, after whom the post was named,
was one of the many young men of Gibson county who responded to the call of
their country in the early period of the Civil war. He enlisted as a private in
Company A, Eightieth Indiana Regiment, and was soon promoted to first lieutenant of his company. He participated in
all the battles and skirmishes in which his regiment was engaged during the
years 1862 and 1863, and was killed in the line of duty at the battle of Resaca,
May 14, 1864. His patriotism and courage were conspicuous and his example as a
soldier was worthy of the highest commendation.
In the manner of William Archer's death the
cardinal principles of the Grand Army are most strikingly exemplified. The
command to which his regiment belonged had just made a very disastrous assault
on the Confederate works before Resaca and was compelled to retire to a place of
shelter from the enemy's murderous fire. Immediately in front of Archer's
regiment a comrade of his company was lying seriously wounded and piteously
crying for water. Archer could not resist the call of his suffering comrade and
at the risk of his own life went to him with water. It was a fatal mission. A
deadly minie ball from the enemy's lines pierced his body and in a few moments
he was numbered with the heroic dead that lay upon the bloody battlefield of
Resaca. Thus he exemplified in his life and in his death the noble virtues of
fraternity, charity and loyalty, the broad foundation stone upon which the order
rests. This post honored his memory and honored itself when it chose for its
official title and inscribed upon its banner the name, "Archer Post".
The officers of the post who served during the
first year were: Gil. R. Stormont, post commander; Joseph R. Ashmead, senior
vice-commander; W. J. Cameron, junior vice-commander; W. M. Duncan,
quartermaster; Rev. M. M. C. Hobbs, chaplain; Henry P. Chambers, officer of the
day; John Turnage, officer of the guard; J. C. Hartin, adjutant; Alex N. Devin,
sergeant-major; Sol. Vannada, quartermaster-sergeant.
During the first year after organization a
large number of applications for membership were received and the muster-in
service was a very prominent feature of the regular meetings. The membership of
the post was increased that year to something near one hundred. The same year
posts were established at Fort Branch, Patoka, Oakland City and other places in
The first Memorial day observance under the
auspices of Archer Post was a notable one, notwithstanding the rain storm that
prevailed during the entire day. An elaborate program had been prepared and
every arrangement made to set a high mark for the proper observance of the day.
With a few exceptions, these arrangements were carried out in spite of the rain
and the observance of this day was a marked success. And this may be said of all
the Memorial days since that time, whether in rain or in sunshine, the graves of soldiers in all adjoining cemeteries
have had a tribute of flowers from the hands of members of Archer Post.
A brief mention of some of the incidents
pertaining to the history of the post since its organization will be of
At a special meeting of the post, May 14,
1883, a flag was presented to the Post by William Archer, on behalf of his
father, after whom the post was named. This was on the anniversary of the day on
which the father was killed at Resaca.
The first death in the post was that of James
Anderson, of the Eightieth Indiana, which occurred in November, 1883. The post
attended his funeral in a body and conducted the first ritual exercises at the
grave. At the request of Comrade Anderson before his death, John Ayers, the
color bearer of his regiment, attended the funeral and carried the post flag. In
December of this same year the second death in the post occurred, that of Hugh
Daugherty, who was also a member of the Eightieth Indiana.
It seems that the usual rain did not occur on
Memorial day, 1884, and the exercises of the day were carried out without
interference of weather. There was a large procession to the cemetery, headed by
the Princeton band and the Post drum corps. Rev. M. M. C. Hobbs was the
principal speaker at the exercises in the courthouse yard.
On the evening of May 15, 1885, a meeting was
held in the post hall in commemoration of the battle of Resaca. At this meeting
addresses appropriate to the occasion were made by Capt. Vesper Dorneck, Capt.
J. S. Epperson, George W. Hill, H. Clay Wilkinson and Dr. W. P. Welborn.
At a meeting of the post in July, 1885, there
was presented a gavel made from the limb of a pine tree near Jonesboro, Georgia.
This tree was used as a signal station by the signal corps of Sherman's army at
the time of the battle there. The wood from which the gavel was made was
procured by Samuel Reavis while on a visit to the battlefield, and the
presentation was made by Captain Dorneck. In accepting the gavel, the post
commander assured the donor that it would be sacredly kept and used while the
post maintained its existence. As it turned out, this assurance was a wrong
guess. In less than one year from that time the post hall and all its contents,
including this gavel, were destroyed by fire, but the post has continued to
In August, 1885, the memorial meeting in honor
of Gen. U. S. Grant, held in the United Presbyterian church, was a notable
event. It was the largest assemblage of the kind ever held in the town. The
exercises were under the auspices of the Grand Army and were appropriate to the
On January 13, 1887, a memorial service was
held in the post hall in honor of Gen. John A. Logan. The principal
addresses were made by M. W. Fields, A. P. Twineham and Rev. J. E. Jenkins.
On February 3, 1887, a camp fire was held in
the post hall, at which General Shackelford, of Evansville, gave an account of
the pursuit and capture of John Morgan, which was participated in by
In the month of January, 1886, the post met
with a serious disaster in the loss of its hall and all the contents by fire.
This loss included all the records of the post, the furniture and equipments of
the hall, the drums belonging to the post and about fifty stand of arms. But
this disaster did not discourage the members. Another meeting place was secured
until arrangement could be made for permanent quarters.
At the department encampment, held in
Indianapolis, February, 1890, Archer Post was honored by the election of one of
its members as department commander. Gil R. Stormont, who brought his honor to
the post, was tendered a reception on his return from the encampment. On this
occasion the department colors were exhibited for the first time in the post
hall, by Henry P. Chambers, who had been appointed color bearer by the newly
elected department commander..
The dedication of the new hall, which had been
fitted up in the Henry Soller block, was an important event in 1890. This
occurred May 15th of that year and the record says the hall was crowded to
suffocation on that occasion. Addresses were made by Governor Ira J. Chase, Col.
I. N. Walker, of Indianapolis, Mrs. H. M. Caylor, of
Noblesville, department president of the Woman's Relief Corps, and
Memorial day, 1891, occurred during the
meeting of the United Presbyterian assembly in Princeton, and the public
exercises of the day were marked by some very able addresses made by delegates
Another incident of note in this year was the
presentation of a diamond badge to Past Department Commander, Gil R. Stormont
(Web Author Note: Gil Stormont was a member of the 58th Indiana Volunteer
Infantry, Co. B),
by a committee appointed by the department encampment for that purpose (See
Picture and Note Below). This
event took place in the post hall, under the auspices of the post, June 15th,
and the presentation was made by Governor Ira J. Chase. Other members of the
committee who were present and made addresses were Col. I. N. Walker, then
department commander; Major Charles M. Travis, a past department commander;
Major Irvin Robbins, of Indianapolis; Ben Starr, of Richmond, and others from
Note from Web Host: See below for recent pictures of
This badge was auctioned off on Ebay on 5/10/02 for
$3,500!! The badge was described on Ebay as follows:
EXCEPTIONAL SOLID GOLD INDIANA GAR PRESENTATION BADGE.
An exceptionally rare and historic GAR presentation medal presented to Gil R.
Stormont, of Princeton, Indiana in appreciation for his efforts as Department Commander for 1891. Composed of five parts, all in precious metal and
set with nine diamonds. From the top: eagle and cannons in gold, with inset garnet eyes for eagle; commander bar of gold with black enamel
inset, with two silver stars, each set with a diamond; hanging from the center of the bar is a gold pendant featuring the Corps of Engineers
Castle, a ribbon engraved, "Army of the Cumberland", two crossed oars and an anchor, representing the Pontoon Brigade of the 58th Indiana; a
star-shaped pendant with enameled blue background inset with a white triangle, and a red, three dimensional acorn, representing the three
corps comprising the Army of the Cumberland; finally the GAR star in gold, each point inset with a diamond. The reverse of the star is
engraved "Presented by the 12th Annual Encampment, Department of Indiana, Held At Indianapolis, April 9th-10th, 1891 to Gil R. Stormont Department
According to the documentation
accompanying the medal the gold comprising the eagle hanger and star
(presumably the smaller pendant) are made of gold found in Brown County, Indiana deposits. The history of this badge is apparently
well-documented in speeches made at the time by Indiana Governor Ira Chase, and others at a meeting held in Princeton, Indiana in June 1891.
An exceptional GAR and Indiana rarity. EXC .
End of Note
The following is a list of the post commanders
of Archer Post since the organization and the years in which they served:
Gil. R. Stormont: 1883,
Henry P. Chambers: 1884, 1891
James S. Epperson: 1886, 1887,
Vesper Dorneck: 1888
Solomon Vannada: 1889
James J. Hartin: 1890
Joseph C. Hartin: 1892
Frank Al. Grigsby: 1894
Henry Al. Lamb: 1895,
Hugh T. Carlisle: 1897
Charles C. Whiting: 1899,
William M. Duncan: 1902,
Hugh Hanna: 1904,
D. Wilson Smith: 1906
James A. Sprowl: 1907
John M. Stormont: 1908,
Joseph K. McGary: 1910
AV. J. Lowe: 1911
James W. Lewis: 1912
Arthur P. Twineharn: 1913
George W. Shopbell: 1914
For a few years after the organization of the
post new members were added to the roll at every meeting, but this increase in
membership was offset by those who had come into the order in the early years of
its history and had grown indifferent and had allowed themselves to become
delinquent in dues. According to the rules of the order the names of such were
dropped from the rolls, and at one time the list of suspended and dropped
members was almost as large as the active list. Then, as the years passed, there
was a continual depletion of the membership by death. But. notwithstanding these
losses, Archer Post has always had a strong guard of the faithful to hold up its
banner. It has always held its regular meetings with a fair average attendance,
and has always been ready to minister to the wants of needy comrades, and has
always been ready to turn out in a body and pay appropriate tribute to comrades
who have answered the last roll call. It has always been careful to give proper
observance to Memorial day and has commanded the respect and approbation of the
community in its conduct and deportment in this and in all other public
In the later years there has been a decided
revival of interest in the Grand Army, and Archer Post has been affected
by this revival. As the years go by, and as the Grand Army seems to be marching
with quickened steps toward the place of final encampment, as comrades, one by
one, are dropping from the ranks, there is manifested a desire for a closer
fellowship and association for those who remain. Those who may have been
indifferent as to this association in the earlier period of the Grand Army have
come to the belief that there is a reality in the ties that binds comrades one
to another. As a result of this belief, Archer Post has had restored to
membership all those who had been suspended or dropped, and there has been a
large number enrolled of those who have not before sought membership in the
On the 13th of January, 1908, Archer Post
celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with a free supper to all its members in
good standing. At that time it was said the post had a larger membership than it
ever had in history; that, with a few exceptions, it had on its rolls all who
were eligible to membership within its jurisdiction. Quite a number who
participated in the quarter-centennial celebration and rejoiced in the happy
conditions and fraternal feeling that prevailed, have since passed to the
beyond. The ranks have been thinned by death, but some of the vacant places have
been filled with new recruits and the fraternal spirit grows stronger with the
At the quarter-centennial celebration a camp
fire was held in the Kidd opera house, at which an interesting program of
exercises was given. Rev. Daniel Ryan, past department commander, made the
principal address. There was also an address of historical character by Past
Department Commander Stormont, covering the history of the post from its
organization. The closing part of this address follows:
"The review of the history of Archer Post
for the past quarter of a century, and the present view of its healthy
condition, affords occasion for hopefulness and cheer for the future. Certainly
there is ground for belief that its days of usefulness are not yet within the
shadows of the setting sun. There
is much of strength and vitality in the organization and in the individual
membership, and there is still a call to duty and to service. It is a call not
only to the duty of aiding needy and distressed comrades, of helping others to
bear the burdens of life, but also of teaching by influence and example the
principles of right living.
"Amid the smoke and leaden hail of battle
conflict the Grand Army set a high standard of patriotism and courage, and when
the conflict was ended they received their discharge with the plaudits of the
nation which was saved by their valor. Since those days of conflict
the Grand Army has not lowered the standard of patriotism and it has continued
to receive the approval of a nation redeemed and regenerated.
"The honor of having been a soldier of
the Republic is an honor not to be lightly regarded, and it should be the
endeavor of each soldier to magnify that honor by living an honorable and
upright life as a citizen. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are
honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.
"Whether the life be long or short,
whether for any comrade of the Grand Army present the last roll call shall come
this week, or this year, or for many years, let this sentiment be the resolve of
"I live for those who
Whose hearts are kind and true,
For the right that lacks
For the wrong that needs
For the future in the
the good that I can do."
William Archer G.A.R. Post No. 28, Princeton IN - Date Unknown (Can You Identify
Any of These Men?)
Picture Courtesy of Phil Pegram
Archer G.A.R. Post No. 28 in Memoriam Ribbon
Obituary of William P. Witherspoon
Source: Princeton Clarion-News, dated Monday, December 11,
1939 (front page, with photo)
Contributed by Georgia McEllhiney
William P. Witherspoon, 91, Civil War Veteran, Dies
William P. Witherspoon, 91, Civil War Veteran, Dies - William P. Witherspoon, age 91 years, last surviving member of Archer Post No. 28, Grand Army of the Republic, died at 1:40 o'clock Sunday afternoon at his home in McKaw Summit, following an illness since July 4.
Only one other Civil war veteran in Gibson county survives. He is Cato Powell, colored, retired farmer living west of Princeton.
Mr. Witherspoon served in Company G of the 143rd Indiana regiment in the Civil war. He was a descendant of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of Princeton university.
Born on the old Witherspoon homestead, north of Princeton, February 11, 1848, Mr. Witherspoon volunterred for service in the Civil war, after which he lived in Illinois for a number of years, returning to Princeton and moving to McKaw Summit about 25 years ago. Until several years ago when he retired, Mr. Witherspoon was interested in farming.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the late residence, in charge of the Rev. L.A. Harriman, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, of which he was a member. Burial will be in Maple Hills cemetery, Princeton Post No. 25, American Legion, will have charge of the services at the grave. The remains are at the home in McKaw Summit, where friends may call.
Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Stella Cessna, at home, and Mrs. James E. Hall, north Main street, this city; one son, W.W. Witherspoon, living north of Patoka, and one sister, Miss Zillah Witherspoon, Princeton; and the following grandchildren: Former Mayor Gerald E. Hall, Mrs. Howard Morrison, Montpelier, O., Mrs. Harry Finch, Metz, Mo., W.H. Cessna, Williams, Ind., Mrs. Carl Haas, Terre Haute, and W. French Witherspoon, Patoka. The wife, Esther Burroughs Witherspoon, died December 28, 1936.
Mr. Witherspoon was commander of Arher Post No. 28, G.A.R., at the time of his death, and had served in that office for the past two years. He had served in practically every office in the post during his membership in the post.
With the death of Mr. Witherspoon, the charter of Archer post will be turned into the Indiana department of the Grand Army of the Republic, as soon as all records are completed by Mrs. M. Kate Habig, who served the post as secretary and assistant quartermaster for the past fourteen years.
Archer Post No. 28 passed its 56th year of organization on last January 13, having been granted a charter on that date in 1883 when the Farragut post of Evansville came to Princeton and formed Archer post with 32 charter members.
Obituary of Samuel Bromagem
Source: Princeton Clarion-News, 12/12/1912
Samuel Bromagem - Well Known Citizen of Patoka is Called by Death
The death of Samuel Bromagem, well known citizen and old soldier, occurred this morning at 5 o'clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. George Harvey, in Patoka, after about a week of serious illness.
The funeral will be held from the Harvey home Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock, and internment will be in Archer cemetery. Archer Post, G.A.R., of this city, of which the deceased was a member, will attend the funeral at Patoka and have charge of the internment.
Samuel Bromagem was 67 years of age. He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Harvey and Mrs. F.H.G. Bell, of Marshall, O., and two sisters and a brother, Mrs. Sallie Grace, of Princeton, and Mrs. Kate Wigmore and John Bromagem, of Carlisle, Ark. He was an uncle of Misses Myrtle, Carrie and Madge Goodrich, of Princeton. In the civil war he served gallantly, as a member of Co. A, 185th Ohio Reg. He was an upright, God-fearing man, esteemed by all who knew him, and his death is a grievous blow to the loved ones and a loss to the community.