The Historic Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Litchfield is the only one of its kind remaining in the state of Minnesota and one of only three in the United States. The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization of men who were veterans of the Union army who fought in the War Between the States, 1861-1865.
Today the old hall still stands much as it did well over a century ago. It is now used as a museum to preserve relics and records of America's tragic and unnecessary conflict, often misnamed the Civil War.
Being a history buff, and a descendent of several Confederate veterans, I have long had a special interest in the War Between the States, so I enjoyed visiting this historic old hall and exploring many of the exhibits.
12 noon - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
Children (under 12) Free
When the nice lady at the GAR Museum learned that I was of Confederate descent, she took me over to see their small case with a display of Confederate items. In it was obsolete Confederate currency, a saber which was like those used by both Union and Confederate soldiers, and a very interesting wool Confederate Blanket.
The blanket was brought back to Minnesota after the war by a Union Soldier, Sargent Marty, who was in the First Minnesota Volunteers. As Sargent Marty lay wounded on the battlefield at Gettysburg, an unknown Southern soldier came and covered the enemy soldier with his own blanket. Marty survived the War and brought the blanket back to Minnesota, where it was preserved for generations by his family, before being donated to the museum.
Another very interesting artifact in the Grand Army of the Republic Museum is the ornate chandelier which hangs over the old meeting hall.
There are two stories of the origin of the chandelier. One is that it was originally from a bordello in New Orleans, Louisiana. The other is that it was brought back to Minnesota from the south as a part of the "spoils of war." Perhaps both stories are true.
The War Between the States, was fought mostly on Southern soil by Northern aggressors. When Union soldiers captured a town or even a farm in the Confederate states it was very common for them to steal every item of value and destroy that which they could not carry away. Such plunder was clearly criminal according to the established rules of war, and a vile and evil act according to every standard of human decency. Yet the rape of the south was overlooked or even encouraged by Northern generals such as Sherman and Grant. Because the North won the war, such despicable actions were never punished.
Here is but one quote from a Union invader of Louisiana from the "Official Records: War of the Rebellion" published by the United States Government after their subjugation of the South: "No squad of men ... can live anywhere we have been. The people have neither seed, corn, nor bread, or mills to grind the corn if they had it, as I burned them wherever found.... I have taken from these people the mules with which they would raise a crop the coming year, and burned every surplus grain of corn...."
General William T. Sherman wrote from Vicksburg on January 31, 1864: The Government of the United States has ... any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war - to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything ...."
The chandelier, which is a symbol of these heinious atrocities against innocent civilians, hangs in the GAR museum in Litchfield to their shame, and they don't even seem to realize it.
1525 E Hwy 12, Litchfield, MN 55355
Good for: Couples
1525 Us Hwy 12 East
Good for: Couples
21398 575th Ave., Litchfield, Minnesota, 55355, United States
Good for: Solo
611 North Marshall Avenue, Litchfield, Minnesota, 55355, United States
Good for: Couples
Virtually every town in America, except for the very tiniest of them, has at least one Chinese Buffet. I found King's Wok in downtown Litchfield. It is situated a couple of doors down from the courthouse and across the street from Central Park.
The place was crowded with local folks enjoying the mid-day lunch buffet. I found one of the last empty tables, in a back dining room. The local Litchfield Clergy Association were meeting at a large round table next to me and it was interesting to eavesdrop on their conversation.
The food was typical of such places - good - but not particularly outstanding. Service was efficient and given with a smile and a fortune cookie. The cost was very reasonable.
On the southern end of Litchfield lies beautiful Lake Ripley. It is encircled by a four-mile-long paved trail which is popular with walkers, joggers, bikers and in-line skaters.
The 558 acre lake, with a maximum depth of 18 feet, provides multiple recreational opportunities (swimming, boating, fishing, ice skating, etc.) for both local residents as well as visitors.
Lake Ripley, Litchfield, Minnesota