This Week in Colorado History: Grand Army of the Republic Parade

The Grand Army of the Republic conducted a parade that “loosened the hearts of the Queen City and the Centennial State until the mountains re-echoed the songs of battle and the cheers of the multitude,” reported “The Colorado Transcript” this week in 1905. The paper continued, arguing that the parade would “be written of in years to come as the one that had no flaw.”

The event honored Union Army veterans “signally by giving them the full freedom of the streets,” and as they paraded along the participants were showered with flowers from bystanders. Both parade participants and spectators conducted themselves in a manner befitting a patriotic event; there were no accidents although the city was packed with spectators and decorations.

An hour into the parade, the official festivities began as the chief of police “stepped from Broadway into the front of the reviewing stand.” A flag was placed over the stand in memory of an unspecified dead commander, probably Lincoln. The marchers, led by Colonel George E. Randolph then rode past the governor of Colorado, the mayor of Denver, and various other government officials. The set-up included a 6000 person grand stand. Occupants of the grandstand “took up the magnificent chorus of approval that sounded far up from Larimer Street.” Music played was appropriate to the Civil War connections, as it included “John Brown’s Body” and other war songs.

Those veterans who were not physically able to march in the parade were conducted along the route via stage coach. After that, each state’s delegation marched through the route. Bringing up the rear of the column were four Mexican War veterans. It certainly bears mentioning that the Mexican War had been over for more than 55 years by the time of this event, and the fact that any of the soldiers from it were healthy enough to travel to Denver and participate in a parade is very impressive.

“The Colorado Transcript” reported the event drew 12,500 veterans, 125,000 spectators, 50 bands, and 80 drum corps for a seven mile parade route. The “time for parade to pass a given point” was three hours and five minutes. The largest GAR chapter hailed from Kansas and had 3200 marchers; the smallest hailed from Florida and had only five marchers.

Copyright © 2020 The Oredigger Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.