Organizing of the
United Sons of Confederate Veterans
Information Provided by Fred Chiesa
June 1896, the members of the R. E. Lee Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, of Richmond, Va., sent out a circular: to all Confederate Veterans, to all Sons of Confederate Veterans, and to all who revere the noble and generous sacrifices of the southern soldiers, in which they said: “Believing that a general federation of sons of confederate Veterans is absolutely necessary for the accomplishment of the cherished purposes that every one to whom this circular is addressed is singly laboring to carry out, R. E. Lee Camp issues a call for such federation at the time of the reunion in Richmond.” In this circular was given an outline of the proposed federation. It met with hearty response from the camps of Sons then in existence and the most cordial commendation at the hands of all Confederate Camps.
On June 30, 1896, about forty delegates of sons met at the Woman’s College Auditorium in Richmond with the earnest purpose to arrange for the formation of such a federation. Is aims, objects and purposes are not to create or foster, in any manner, any feeling against the North, but to hand down to posterity the “story of the glory of the men who wore the gray.”
Knowing that “in union there is strength,” the sons of those who made the south famous have come together for the systematic and united work of preserving from oblivion the true history of the south. That this step meets with the hearty approval of the “men who wore the gray” is shown by the following resolution, which was adopted at the Convention of the United Confederate Veterans in Richmond, at their regular session.
“Resolved, That tis session provide at once for the formation of Sons of Confederate Veterans into a separate national organization. This is urgent from the manifold fact that our ranks are thinning daily, and our loved representatives should step in now and arrange to take charge of Southern history, our relics, mementos and monuments, and stimulate the erection of other monuments to our heroes ere ‘taps’ are sounded for the last of their fathers.”
But before the resolution was adopted the Sons had taken matters in their own hands, and on the eventing of June 30th the meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was held at the auditorium with about forty delegates present, representing half the number of Camps representing the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
Mr. Edwin Piper Cox, R. E. Lee Camp No. 1, Chairman of the committee of Arrangements, called the meeting to order, and stated its object. Mr. J. E. B. Stuart was nominated for temporary Chairman, and unanimously elected, and Mr. E. P. McKissick, of Asheville, N. C. Was elected Secretary.
The question of Representation being raised, it was decided to allow each camp one vote.
Messrs. R. A. Smythe, of South Carolina; W. B. Allen, of Virginia, and Heywood Parker, of North Carolina, were appointed a committee on Credentials, and the following Camps were found to be Represented:
R. E. Lee Camp Richmond Virginia
Kemper-Strother-Fry Camp Madison Virginia
Page Valley Camp Shenandoah Virginia
Louisa Camp Louisa Virginia
Atlanta Camp Atlanta Georgia
H. A. Carrington Camp Smithville Virginia
Pettigrew Camp Asheville North Carolina
Norfleet Camp Winston North Carolina
John Pelham Camp Auburn Alabama
Gadberry Camp Union South Carolina
Pickett-Buchanan Camp Norfolk Virginia
Shenandoah Camp Woodstock Virginia
John R. Cooke Camp West Point Virginia
Thomas Hardeman Camp Macon Georgia
Camp Moultrie Charleston South Carolina
Pickett-Stuart Camp Nottaway Virginia
Magrudedr-Ewell Camp Williamsburg Virginia
W. W. Humphries Camp Anderson South Carolina
George Davis Camp Wilmington North Carolina
Albert Sidney-Johnston Camp Roanoke Virginia
Turner-Ashby Camp Harrisonburg Virginia
R. A. Chew Camp Fredericksburg Virginia
The temporary organization was made permanent and the name United Sons of Confederate Veterans chosen, and after much discussion, a Committee was appointed on Constitution and by-Laws, consisting of J. L. Hardeman, of Georgia; J. L. Wells, of south Carolina; A. F. McKissick, of Alabama; T. W. Davis, of North Carolina, and E. P. Cox, of Virginia.
On the following morning, July 1, 1896, the Committee on Constitution and By-Laws reported. Mr. Hardeman, Chairman, stated that they could do no better than to respect the Biblical injunction: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that their days may be long in the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee.” This bing so, they had decided to submit the laws of the United Confederate Veterans, with only such changes as are absolutely necessary. The report was adopted.
The preamble of this Constitution reads: “To encourage the preservation of history, perpetuate the hallowed memories of brave men, to assist in the observance of Memorial Day, to aid and support all Confederate Veterans, widows and orphans, and to perpetuate the record of the services of every southern soldier, these are our common aims. These objects we believe will both promote a purer and better private life, and enhance our desire to maintain the “national honor, union and independence of our common country.”
According to the Constitution the convention of United Sons of Confederate Veterans is held at the same time and place as the United Confederate Veterans, so that the next convention will meet at Nashville, Tenn.
The officers elected at this first Convention of U.S.C.V. were as follows:
Mr. J. E. B. Stuart of Richmond, Virginia, General Commander
Mr. E. P. Cox, of Richmond, Virginia, Adjutant General
Mr. R. H. Pinckney, of Charleston, South Carolina, Quartermaster General
Mr. George B. Williamson, of Columbia, Tennessee, Inspector General
Doctor Stuart McGuire, of Richmond, Virginia, Surgeon General
Major E. P. McKissick, of Asheville, North Carolina, Commissary General
Bishop T. F. Gailor, of Tennessee, Grand Chaplain
Colonel T. R. R. Cobb, of Atlanta, Georgia, Judge Advocate General
(While the title of the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief bore the suffix “General” as Adjutant-General etc., until the Jacksonville Convention May 14, 1914, the Constitution was amended substitution “in-Chief” for ‘General’. Amendment was provided that the word “General” is not to be prefixed to any official designation.)
Mr. Robert A. Smyth, of Charleston, S.C. Lieutenant Commander Department Army of North Virginia
Mr John L. Hardeman, of Macon, Ga. Lieutenant Commander Department of Tennessee.
Lieutenant Commander of Department Trans-Mississippi was deferred until the organization of State Divisions.
The organization of this association is composed of Departments, Divisions, Brigades and Camps. The Federation has an Executive Head and three Departments, entitled Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, and Trans-Mississippi. Each state constitutes a division which are furthermore divided into Brigades, which also are divided in to Camps.
At the Second Annual Reunion and Convention of USCV there were only 17 camp represented but there are 37 Camps in existence: 14 in Virginia, 8 in South Carolina, 4 in Alabama, 1 in Georgia, 2 in Kentucky, 1 in Texas and 6 in Tennessee. By the Third Convention in Atlanta there were 108 camps located as follows: 14 in Virginia, 6 in North Carolina, 34 in South Carolina, 5 in Kentucky, 24 in Georgia, 2 in Alabama, 10 in Tennessee, 7 in Texas, 1 in West Virginia, 1 in Mississippi, 3 in Florida, and 1 in Missouri. By 1927 over 1,050 Camps.
The name “United Sons of Confederate Veterans” was changed to “Sons of Confederate Veterans” at the Macon, Georgia, Convention in 1912.