The parade of old soldiers this afternoon passed the reviewing stand erected on the lawn of the Christian church was the most magnificent ever witnessed in state GAR encampment. There were over 3,500 people in line (marching in the parade) and with the fifteen thousand lining the streets the city presented a magnificent spectacle. The most conservative estimate of visitors is placed at 15,000,” the Boone Weekly News reported on June 6, 1906.
The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was formed in Decatur, Illinois, in 1866 and dissolved in 1956 when the last member died. A fraternal organization, it was open to all honorably discharged Civil War veterans from all branches of the military. National G.A.R. membership climaxed with 490,000 members in 1890. G.A.R. membership in Iowa peaked that same year with 20,234 and 435 posts. Eventually there were 519 chartered Iowa G.A.R. posts, but after the mid-1890s both the membership and number of posts steadily declined. The J. G. Miller Post, No. 67, was registered in Boonesboro. Joseph G. Miller, for whom the post was named, died in a Texas prisoner of war camp after being captured on April 9, 1864, during the Battle of Pleasant Hill in Louisiana.
Each year a national G.A.R. encampment was held. In 1922, the 56th National Encampment was held in Des Moines. States also held annual encampments. In 1906, the state encampment was held in Boone. In its coverage of the three-day event, the Boone Weekly News estimated “that between four and five thousand members of the GAR and their auxiliaries were in attendance. There were easily five thousand or more visitors on Wednesday and five thousand more on the other two days, so that 15,000 visitors to the city of Boone during Encampment is a very conservative estimated.”
The 1906 parade formed at Eighth and Story Streets. Participants first marched north to Twelfth Street and then back down Story Street to Seventh Street before continuing west to City Park (Blair Park now, the high school grounds.) From there it went north on Carroll Street to Eighth Street and then east to the reviewing stand at the Christian Church where it disbanded.
The newspaper reported “that there were 3,200 soldiers in line.” They “marched four abreast and in many instances there was an odd one making five. The ranks were close, not over two and one-half feet apart, and there were four solid blocks From corner to corner is 479 feet, making approximately 800 to the block. The other features of the procession easily brought the number up to 3,500.”
The event was one of the largest ever held in Boone.