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.