G. A. R. Place is a section of Flower Hill Cemetery in Binghamton, New York (figure 1). I saw no dates on the masonry erected to formalize the plot with monumental steps, but a reasonable guess would be sometime in the 1890s when the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union Army alumni organization (so to speak), was at its height, or possibly in the ten years following.
The burial area is roughly circular, with small tombstones (not of the canonical rounded-top type adopted for Union and later, U.S. Army soldiers) arranged facing inward. That circle of graves is surrounded by a penumbra of related monuments. At the top of the short rise that the area occupies is a flag pole and two Civil-War-era mortars, barely visible in black paint on either side of the flag pole and pointed toward the photographer.
The top step is inscribed ‘G. A. R. PLACE’ (figure 2), and the dados on each side of the steps bear upon them an image of the GAR membership medal suspended within laurel leaves (figure 3). The medal consists of a pin-back piece at the top with an eagle alighting upon crossed cannon; from this drops a ribbon in the form of an American flag; and below is the membership medal proper, a five-pointed star consciously modeled after the Congressional Medal of Honor. Difficult to make out in figure 3 is the design on the medal’s face, though it can be made out on site (figure 3a).
Most wonderful is a pair of stylized eight-inch siege mortars marking the top of the steps in the same granite (figure 4). These are shown with shells in their mouths, though in real life a shell ready for firing would have been sunk within the mouth of the mortar and not visible to us. An eight-inch mortar photographed in 1865 is shown in figure 5.