Grand Army of the Republic


Opening Ceremonies
At the hour appointed for the opening of the Post, the assembly having been sounded and the Sentinels properly posted by the Officer of the Guard, the officers, except the Sergeant-Major and Q.M. Sergeant, will retire to the ante-room and equip themselves.
The Sergeant-Major will take charge of the Post, taking position on the right of the station of the C., and direct all comrades not in good standing to retire. When the Commander and other officers are ready to enter, the Inner Sentinel, on receiving instructions from the Commander, will announce:
Sergeant-Major, the Officers of the Post!
The Sergeant-Major commands:
Post, Attention!
The comrades will rise, covered, if uniform caps are used, and stand at attention, the Sentinels at carry.
The officers enter in two ranks; if the ante-room is on the left of the station of the S.V.C., in the following order:

J.V.C.                     S.V.C.
Q.M.                      Adjt.
Chap.                     Surg.
O.G.                      O.D.
On reaching the centre of the room, in front of the station of the S.V.C., the commander will command:
Twos Left, March!
Having advanced, in one rank, to within two paces of the altar, he will command:
Halt! and step quickly forward to his station.
If the ante-room is on the right of the station of the S.V.C., the officers enter in inverse order, as follows:—
O.G.                     O.D. C.
Chap.                    Surg.
Q.M.                     Adjt.
J.V.C.                   S.V.C.
and on reaching near the centre of the room, the C. will halt, allow the officers to pass him, and then command:
Twos Eight, March! when the line will advance and halt as before.
When the C. reaches his station, the Sergeant-Major will command:
Present, Arms! The Sentinels will present arms, the officers and comrades salute, and so remain until the C. has acknowledged the salute and commands: Carry, Arms! He will then add: Officers to your posts, March! At the word 'posts’ the officers will face to the right, and at the command ‘March!’ move off to their respective stations.
This is a regular (or special) meeting of … Post, No. …, Department of …, Grand Army of the Republic. Officer of the Day O.D. salutes, are the approaches to this
Post properly guarded?
Commander, they are.
Are the officers of the Post present in their proper stations?
Commander, they are.
If any officers are absent, the O.D. will so report, and the Commander will cause properly qualified comrades to be detailed to fill their places.
Are all present members of the Grand Army of the Republic?
OFFICER OF THE DAY, after proper examination:
All present are members of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Comrades, once more we have assembled for the transaction of such business as may properly come before this Post.
We meet in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty and may all our hearts unite as one in sustaining the great objects of our association.
The Chaplin will invoke the Divine blessing.
Parade, Rest!
Almighty Father! humbly we bow before Thee, our Creator, Preserver, Guide and Protector. We thank Thee for our lives; for Thy mercy which has kept us until this hour; for Thy guidance on land and sea, by day and by night; for Thy constant care in our hours of danger; and for the preservation of our national integrity and unity. Be graciously near to our comrades who suffer from disease or wounds, and to the widows and orphans of those who fell in our holy cause; in all distresses comfort them, and give us willing hearts and ready hands to supply their needs. Bless our Country; grant that the memory of our noble dead, who freely gave their lives for the land they loved, may dwell ever in our hearts. Bless our Order; make it an instrument of great good; keep our names on the roll of Thy servants, and at last receive us into that Grand Army above, where thou, O God, art the Supreme Commander.
Attention! … Post No. …, Department of …, Grand Army of the Republic, is now open in due form.

Muster-In Services
If martial music is used, it will be posted on the right.
Four guards in uniform, with muskets and equipments, two in front of the recruit and two in his rear.
The O.D. on the right flank, in command.
The O.G. on the left of the leading guard.
Each recruit to be accompanied on his right by a comrade.
Adjutant Adjutant rises and salutes, have you in charge the applications of any recruits, duly elected, who have not yet presented themselves for muster-in?
Commander, I have several such applications.
Hands them to the Commander.
Officer of the Day O.D. rises and salutes, you will take these papers, visit the outpost, and ascertain if any of the candidates therein named are in waiting.
O. D. proceeds to the outpost, where all strangers not provided with the proper countersign are detained by the sentinel; calls the roll of the unmustered recruits, questions such as answer to their names in regard to the statements contained in their applications, and causes any not known to him to be identified by some comrade to whom they are personally known. He then returns to the Post, and, saluting from rear of the altar, reports:
Commander, I find at the outpost …, who having been duly elected, desire to be enrolled in the Grand Army of the Republic.
Quartermaster Quartermaster rises and salutes, have the required fees been paid by these recruits?
Commander, they have.
Officer of the Day, you will return to the outpost, and prepare the recruits for muster-in.
The Officer of the Day instructs the Officer of the Guard to obtain from the Adjutant a detail of four guards and one comrade—when possible, the comrade recommending his admission—to conduct each recruit during muster-in, and report with such detail at the outpost. The O.D. will salute the Commander, and retire to the outpost.
The O.G. forms his detail three paces in rear of the altar, the music on the right, and after saluting the C., marches them by the flank to the outpost.
The O.G. only will salute.
At the outpost, the O.D. will address the recruits as follows:
…, your requests for admission into the Grand Army of the Republic having been duly received, your records carefully examined, and your applications favorably considered by this Post, we are now prepared to muster you into our ranks.
Are you ready to take upon yourselves a solemn obligation, which will not interfere with your duty to your God, your country, your neighbour or yourselves?
I am.
Officer of the Guard, you will take charge of these recruits, until the orders of the Commander are received.
The O.D. returns to the Post, and the O.G. forms the recruits in single file, facing the door of the Post room, assigns the comrades previously selected to conduct them, and takes position at the left of the leading guard.
OFFICER OF THE DAY, saluting from rear of altar:
Commander, I have performed the duty as you directed, and … await your orders at the outpost.
The recruits will be admitted and received in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.
The O.D. proceeds to the door of the ante-room, draws his sword, and directs the sentinel to open the door. Having executed this order, the Sentinel will stand at carry, presenting arms, as the column passes.
Officer of the Guard, the Commander directs that you enter with your charge.
Forward, March!
As the column enters the room, the O.D. and O.G. take positions as above directed, the music strikes up, and the O.G., giving the necessary commands for change of direction, conducts the column at least once around the room, passing the J.V.C., the C., the Chaplain, the S.V.C., in their order; and on again reaching within three paces of the J.V.C., that officer will command, HALT! to be quickly repeated by the O.D.
The O.D. steps to the right of the column and faces the J.V.C.
Officer of the Day, who are these in your charge?
OFFICER OF THE DAY, salutes with sword:
Good men and true, who, having served faithfully in the Army or Navy of the Union during the dark days of the Rebellion, now seek to unite with us, their late comrades in arms, in preserving the memory of those hours of trial and danger.
Their object is a noble one. The Grand Army seek to unite in a full fraternity of interest and feeling all good and true defenders of the Republic. Officer of the Day, have these recruits been properly examined, and found worthy?
They have been so examined and found worthy.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
Chorus—For auld lang syne, my boys,
For auld lang syne,
We'll ne'er forget when first we met
In days of auld lang syne.
You will now conduct the recruits to the Senior Vice-Commander.
The O. D., having resumed his position, commands:
Column Forward, MARCH! The column will be conducted in the order above prescribed at least once around the room, and when opposite the S.V.C. the O.D. will command: Twos Left, MARCH! HALT! Order, ARMS!
If necessary the line will be dressed to the right.
The O.G. takes position on the right of the first guard, the music and guides two paces in the rear of the guards and recruits; the O.D. will pass around the right until abreast of the O.G. and face the S.V.C.
During the response of the Chaplain these positions will not be changed.
Officer of the Day, who are these in your charge?
OFFICER OF THE DAY, salutes with sword:
Recruits, who, having passed the Junior Vice-Commander, are by his orders conducted to your station.
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. The soldiers and sailors of the Republic have passed through the furnace of war and have been tried by fire, and in this noble association they seek to manifest their work by the relief of their suffering comrades, and the widows and orphans of those who died that the nation might live. Listen to the words of wisdom!
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not a charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. And now abideth Faith, Hope, Charity, these three; but the greatest of these is Charity.
Meek and lowly, pure and holy,
Chief among the blessed three,
Turning sadness into gladness,
Heaven-born art thou, Charity!
Pity dwelleth in thy bosom,
Kindness reigneth o'er thy heart,
Gentle thoughts alone can sway thee,
Judgment hath in thee no part.
Meek and lowly, pure and holy,
Chief among the blessed three,
Turning sadness into gladness,
Heaven-born art thou, Charity!
Hoping ever, failing never:
Tho' deceived, believing still;
Long abiding, all confiding
To thy Heavenly Father's will;
Never weary of well-doing,
Never fearful of the end;
Claiming all mankind as brothers,
Thou dost all alike befriend.
Meek and lowly, pure and holy,
Chief among the blessed three,
Turning sadness into gladness,
Heaven-born art thou, Charity!
Bearing in mind these sacred teachings and the duties they call upon; you to assume, you will now be conducted to the Commander of this Post.
The O.D., with the O.G. resuming positions, commands:
Carry, ARMS! Twos right, MARCH! The column will be conducted as before prescribed until the station of the Commander is reached, when the O.D. commands: Twos Left, MARCH! HALT!
The O.D., O.G., the music, and the guides take positions as in front of the S.V.C., and the O.D. commands:
Order, ARMS!
OFFICER OF THE DAY, saluting with sword:
Commander, by direction of the Senior Vice-Commander I present to you these recruits of our Grand Army, who, having been properly examined and found worthy of admission to our ranks, have been instructed in the duties of Fraternity and Charity, and now await your orders.
Recruits of the Grand Army, to the noble virtues of Fraternity and Charity our great association adds yet another, to which we owe our present existence as a nation, and by the practice of which we can alone maintain the integrity and unity of the Republic—the crowning principle of Loyalty!
My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of Liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrims' pride,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!
Our fathers' God, to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
For the faithful performance of these three great principles of our Order, we now require of you a solemn obligation, but one which will in no way interfere with your duty to your God, your country, your neighbor, or yourselves.
Are you prepared to take this obligation?
I am.
The Officer of the Day will conduct the recruits to the altar.
The O.D. commands:
Carry, ARMS! and the music and guides having resumed their positions,
Twos Sight, MARCH!
Music, common time.
The column will be conducted by the O.G. past the Chaplain and S.V.C., and on nearing the position of the J.V.C. will turn to the right, passing three paces in rear of the altar. When the recruits are opposite to it, the O.D. commands:
Twos Left, MARCH! HALT!
The O.G. stations the guard, forming corners of square, by the command:
Guards, to your posts
MARCH! The first and third guards will move forward three paces beyond the altar and halt; and when the O.G. commands: About, FACE! will face to the rear. The second and fourth guards will stand fast. The O.G. then commands: Order, ARMS!
The music will form in one rank, three paces in rear of the recruits at the altar.
The recruits, under the direction of the guides, will take position as prescribed, in one rank, the guides will fall back one pace, and the O.D. and O.G. will take post on the right and left of the recruits respectively.
OFFICER OF THE DAY, Salutes with the sword:
Commander, the recruits are in proper position at the altar.
COMMANDER gives three raps.
The Commander takes position front of and facing the altar, the Chaplain two paces from the left of the altar; the S.V.C., J.V.C., Adjt., Q.M., and Surgeon advance two paces each in front of their respective stations.
The S.M. and Q.M.S. take position at the head of the room, on the right and left respectively. The comrades will leave their seats and form in one or more ranks, dressing on the S.M. and Q.M.S.
Parade, REST!
Eternal Father! draw near with the influence of Thy Spirit, as we, in true devotion and with that loyalty to country which Thou hast blessed in the past, draw near to Thee. We thank Thee for Thy mercies to these Thy servants now standing at this altar, preserved through so many dangers in war, and permitted once more to enjoy a peaceful life in a land they have helped to save, O God! to them much has been given, of them much will be required.
Make them mindful of their duties to their comrades living, and of those more sacred duties to those whom the dead have left to their care and protection. Keep them unshaken in their loyalty to our flag and country, assist them to fulfil the spirit of the obligation they now assume, and grant that the great principles of our Order may so control their lives that at the end they may receive the approving sentence "Well done, good and faithful servants." We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Post, ATTENTION! To the recruits: As you stand at this altar, where you have listened to solemn prayer to the Great Father of us all, I beg you to reflect that this is no unmeaning ceremony, but that the obligation you now assume is a pledge which one comrade gives to another, solemnly calling upon God to witness the sincerity of his vow.
You will each raise your right hand, pronounce your name, and repeat after me the obligation of our Order.
The C. will slowly and in a distinct tone, recite the obligation in easy sentences, the recruits following in unison.

I, …, in the presence of Almighty God, and these Comrades of the Grand Army, do solemnly promise:
That I will at all times keep sacred the secrets of the Grand Army of the Republic; that I will never make known to any person not a comrade in good standing any countersign, sign, or grip established and used by the Grand Army of the Republic, nor disclose the proceedings of any Post Department, or National Encampment, except in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Order;
That I will regard every comrade as a brother, and will answer all signs and words by which he shall make himself known to me as such;
That I will aid all poor and distressed soldiers and sailors, and the widows and orphans of my late comrades, by all the means in my power, so far as I can, without injury to myself or family; and that in all things connected with the Grand Army, I will exercise a spirit of Fraternity and Charity toward all my comrades;
I further promise that I will at all times, to the best of my ability, defend the Union of the United States of America, honor its Constitution, conscientiously obey the laws of the land, encourage honor and purity in public affairs, and in a spirit of Loyalty protect the flag of our country, as the emblem of liberty, equal rights, and national unity.
And this obligation as a comrade I voluntarily assume, and promise to fulfil on the honor of a soldier (or sailor).
The Commander will signal the hands to be dropped.
And all true and honorable men would ever turn with scorn and contempt from a comrade false to his obligation, and a traitor to this Order.
The recruits remain standing in rear of the altar.
The Commander will resume his station and give one rap, when the officers and comrades will resume their seats.
The Officer of the Guard dismisses the guard and music, commanding:
Carry, ARMS ! About, FACE! When the second and fourth guards and the music will face about: Close order, MARCH! The guards in front will pass to the rear on the right and left of the altar, closing on the rear file. Upon reaching them, they and the music will be conducted by the O.G. to the position for stacking arms, and be dismissed.
If a sciopticon is to be used, the recruits, under the direction of the O.D., assisted by the guides, will return to the ante-room. When the apparatus is arranged, the recruits will be introduced and seated in rear of the altar, when the charge will be given.

Comrades, by forms and words familiar amidst scenes of trial and danger, you have been led to the altar where you now are. The toils and duties of our service- life are over, its memories alone remain; and to preserve these memories an ever-living influence for good in all our hearts is the object of this association. We welcome you as brothers.
How often in our army or navy life has the safety of thousands hung upon the courage or the faithfulness of one, and in sickness or distress how strong the tie which bound comrades to one another! Fraternity in deed, if not in word marked everywhere the true soldier and sailor. When therefore, conducted by a comrade, you entered this Post, and assumed the solemn obligation which unites us, it was to signify that Fraternity, without regard to former rank, is the broad foundation stone on which our Order rests.
But we have even higher duties. Day after day you see, maimed and helpless, brave men who dared death for our country, now dependent upon others or left to want. The widow and orphans once enjoying plenty, now need the liberal hand, and in beautiful words you have heard set forth the great virtue of Charity. But for a kind Providence you might also be shattered in limb or helpless from incurable disease, or you might sleep beside your dead comrades, and those dear to you be left to the charity of a heedless world. Let the memory of past dangers make you ready to stand by those who stood by you, to help those who have no earthly helper; for who like soldiers and sailors can sympathize with disabled comrades, or the families of those whose ties with us were welded in the fire of battle?
Into that fire the spirit which led us all was Loyalty. When traitors brought upon us the perils of civil war, threatening to destroy our republican government and to dissolve the Union established by our fathers, the loyal sons of the North, the West, the East, and the South, breaking asunder the ties of party and casting aside the pursuits and pleasures of civil life, thronged to the field, resolved that the Union, one and indivisible, must and should be preserved. The triumph of the Union arms finally established the principle that, under the Constitution, the National Government is and must be supreme; and to this principle, remembering always that by eternal vigilance alone can national liberty be maintained, we solemnly pledge ourselves now and forever.
Again we welcome you to our association. Into our ranks no man on whom a stain of treason rests can come. Within this brotherhood only those can enter whose unsullied record of a soldier's or a sailor's life proves them the deadly enemies of treason.
We pledge ourselves to stand by you and yours in the hour of need. Believing you worthy of this assurance, and ready to meet it in true soldierly spirit, we receive you into our ranks, and we bid you welcome in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty until the reassembling of the Grand Army of the Republic above.
Comrades, you will receive from the Officer of the Day the grip, signs, and countersigns of our Order.
At the conclusion of the charge the O.D. will instruct the recruits in the countersigns and unwritten work, carefully giving all requisite motions and signs whilst explaining their use.
He will say: I have been directed to communicate to you the countersigns and unwritten work of the Grand Army.
We have a Hailing Sign, for the recognition of members. Desiring to ascertain if any one is a comrade, you will …. If this is noticed by a comrade, he will reply in this manner: ….
On wishing to enter a Post whilst it is in session, you will give any ordinary rap at the outer door. A Sentinel will present himself and take the position of …. To him you will give, in a whisper, the National Countersign, ….
He will pass you into the ante-room, where you will proceed to the inner door and announce your presence by a rap, and to the Sentinel presenting himself you will give the Department (or Post) Countersign ….
This countersign is only to be used in this Department (or Post); it will not admit you in any other.
If visiting another Post, you will announce your name and the number and location of the Post to which you belong; whereupon you will, if a stranger, be tested by the Officer of the Day in the unwritten work.
For this purpose we have a dialogue, requiring you to give certain answers to the questions of that officer.
The Officer of the Guard will now personate a visiting comrade, and I will examine him.
The challenger takes the position of …, and the party challenged takes the same position until after the countersign is given.
The challenger demands …, and the party challenged replies ….
The challenger demands …, and the party challenged replies ….
The challenger demands …, and the party challenged replies ….
The challenger demands …, and the party challenged replies ….
You will then drop your hands and give the challenger the grip, which is ….
Being permitted to enter the Post room, you will halt in rear of the altar, and …. On leaving the room whilst the Post is in session, you will take the same position and give the same ….
When addressing the Commander (being careful never to pass in front of the altar or between it and the Commander), you will salute and address him, as well as all other officers, by their official titles. For, all other members use the title of Comrade only.
We have also a Sign of Distress, to be used by members if in bodily danger and requiring help. It is …. When this sign cannot be seen, then exclaim …. Comrades are required to render assistance in all such cases.
The gavel is used thus: Two raps call up the officers; three raps call up the Post; one rap seats them or calls to order.
Commander, the recruits have been instructed as directed.
Badge Presentation
In accordance with the authority conferred on the Commander-in-Chief, the following form for the presentation of a Grand Army badge to the recruit at muster-in is approved for the use of such Posts as desire it.
After the recruits have been instructed in the unwritten work of the Order, and before they are conducted from the altar to sign the roll, the O.D. turns and salutes the C., who calls up the Post by giving three raps, and after giving the command:
Parade, REST ! takes position in front of the altar, and facing the recruits, pronounces the following:
COMRADES: In the days of ancient chivalry the candidate for the honors of knighthood was examined in the exercise of arms, in his record of military service; and if duly qualified, was given a shield without device, and charged to show such a brave and gracious manliness before God and man that he might win an emblazonry for it.
In these days the members of the Grand Army of the Republic do not need to win any device to designate their chivalrous spirit. They have shown on land and on sea, in war and in peace, the best qualities of genuine knighthood. They uphold, as you have been instructed, three important principles—Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty.
As the emblem of those principles, the Grand Army of the Republic has adopted this badge. It is more honorable than any shield. It is emblazoned with a heroism that was patriotic and with a patriotism that was heroic.
It is made out of cannon captured in a war that seriously affected the financial and industrial prosperity of the country at home and abroad; that cost four hundred thousand loyal lives; that made three hundred thousand Union soldiers and sailors cripples for life; and that left more than a million devoted mothers, widows, sisters and orphans to mourn for their loved ones who did not return.
Your services in the past have been such that you are deemed worthy to receive it. As the representative of the Post, I give it to you.
The Commander steps forward and pins the badges upon the left breasts of the recruits.

My comrades wear it over hearts so loyal, patriotic, so vigilant, and so brave that it shall be to others an incentive to the most unselfish patriotism; and to yourselves a guard against everything that can disgrace the past you helped to make honorable and our dead have made sacred, or that can bring shame upon the Grand Army of the Republic.
To your honor as men, as patriots, and as comrades, I intrust it.
The comrades will now proceed to the Adjutant's desk, sign the Rules and Regulations and By-Laws, and take their seats in full membership in this Post.
The C. resumes his station, commands:
ATTENTION! and gives one rap.
The O.D. will conduct the recruits to the Adjutant's desk.

Closing Ceremonies
Is there any further business to come before this Post?
If there is none proposed, the Commander will give three raps, when the officers and comrades will rise, the latter forming in one or more ranks.
Comrades, our duty for this occasion is performed. As we go from this place, let us not forget to take with us into our daily lives that Fraternity of feeling which should bind us together as comrades, that Charity which shall prompt us to the noblest sacrifices for the needy and destitute wards of our Grand Army; and that Loyalty which shall bind us to a faithful performance of our duties as citizens, and to an undying vigilance, which is the price of liberty.
Senior Vice-Commander, on what rests the hope of our Republic?
One country and one flag!
Junior Vice-Commander, how may our country be kept undivided and our flag maintained unsullied?
By eternal vigilance, which is the price of liberty.
Officer of the Day, what should be the doom of all traitors?
OFFICER OF THE DAY, stepping in front of the Commander, smartly drawing his sword, and assuming the position of "guard," as do all the officers:
The penalty of treason is death!
The penalty of treason is death!
Such be the doom of traitors, and may God keep you true in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty!
The O.D. collects the Rituals and cards.

I declare … Post, No. …, Department of …, Grand Army of the Republic, closed.