What Is The SCV

Charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans

 
"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish."

Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee
Commander General United Confederate Veterans,
New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25, 1906

A Brief History of the Sons of Confederate Veterans
by Dr. Buddy Patterson, Archivist Texas Division

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a voluntary association of male descendants of those who served the Confederate States of America in the Confederate Army or Navy. We invite all of those who are eligible for membership to apply and multiply their individual abilities through the power of association.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is neither political nor sectional; membership is distributed across the entire country, plus Europe and Brazil. The SCV strives to honor and keep alive the memory of the Confederacy and the principles for which Confederates fought, thus giving the world an understanding and appreciation of the Southern people and their brave history.

Among activities of the SCV are maintenance of historic sites such as Beauvoir, the home of President Jefferson Davis, sponsorship of symposia such as the annual Confederate History Symposium at the Confederate Research Center in Hillsboro, Texas, the marking of Confederate graves, sponsorship of reenactment groups and Confederate honor guards, the encouragement of historical literacy achievement, and the awarding of scholarships. Individual camps and Divisions establish their own calendars and schedules of activities in addition to national projects.

On June 30, 1889, the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) was organized at New Orleans, Louisiana. Descendants of those veterans met with the UCV, but never with full, official status. In 1894 and again in 1895, poorly planned proposals to form an official organization of these descendants were rejected by the UCV.

In 1896, Edwin P. Cox of Richmond, Virginia, led a well organized effort to establish a national structure for the "Sons" of Confederate veterans. At the 1896 convention of the UCV, a resolution was presented and adopted calling for the foundation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a separate national organization. But, before the vote was taken on the UCV resolution the Sons had already acted.

On June 30, 1896, in the Auditorium at Richmond, representatives of 24 camps and societies met to take action. J. E. B. Stuart, Jr., son of the noted cavalry leader, was selected as temporary chairman and a committee was appointed to draft a constitution. They worked late into the night. On the next day, July 1, 1896, the constitution was completed and adopted. The United Sons of Confederate Veterans had been born.

The structure of the new federation followed that of the Confederate Army; that is, there were three departments. The Army of Northern Virginia Department would be composed of the states of Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Kentucky. The Army of Tennessee Department included Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. The Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department included all states west of the Mississippi. Each state was designated as a Division.

The constitution stipulated that annual meetings would be held at the same time and place as the UCV. This procedure was followed through the last UCV convention in 1951. J. E. B. Stuart was elected the Commanding General of the SCV and Edwin Cox was appointed the first Adjutant General. No commander was elected for the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department until the second convention in Nashville in 1897. No Texan served as Commander-in-Chief of the SCV from the time Edgar Scurry left office in 1922 until Ralph Green's election in 1986.

By the end of the 1897 convention of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans, the number of camps had grown to thirty-seven, with one in Texas. One issue facing delegates at that meeting was the question of admitting females into membership in the USCV. While the assembly voted to cooperate with the ladies and to secure their cooperation, a resolution changing the name of the organization to "Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy" was
voted out of order. The existence of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was perhaps a factor in the resolve to keep the organization male.

At various times through the years the constitution has been revised to meet the needs and changes dictated by the passage of time. For instance, in 1912, in Macon, Georgia, the name "United Sons of Confederate Veterans" was shortened to "Sons of Confederate Veterans." In 1914, the officer designations of Major General, Lieutenant General, etc., were eliminated. Today the various levels from camps through departments are headed by Commanders, with the national organization directed by a Commander-in-Chief. Record keeping and business operations are directed by our Adjutant-in-Chief. A General Executive Council was instituted to oversee the national organization, functioning similarly to a board of directors of a commercial enterprise.

For many years after its formation, the SCV grew and flourished. Cities large and small were proud to be the homes of SCV camps. These camps, meeting on a regular basis, presented historical programs and worked on local projects to promote the memory of the Confederate veterans and their ideals. In 1904, there were a total of 1,563 UCV Camps with 314 in the Texas Division, and there were 481 SCV Camps with 86 in the Texas Division. However, as the veterans passed away, the SCV membership and number of Camps waned.

In 1923, there were only 23 SCV Camps in the Texas Division. The number of camps increased to 166 by 1927, but the membership and numbers of camps dwindled as the War grew distant and young Southerners became less interested in their heritage. In 1941 the Texas Division became inactive, but in 1954, the Division began the process of rebuilding under the leadership of Division Commander Dr. Ralph W. Widener, Jr.

The centennial celebration of the War Between the States from 1961 to 1965 brought temporarily revived interest, but the late 1960s saw membership dwindle again. Since the mid-1970s, membership has again moved upward as more and more men became interested in knowing about their Southern heritage and the sacrifices made in behalf of that heritage. The 1980s and early 1990s have seen steady SCV growth both in terms of members and new Camp development.

In 1906, Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee of the Confederate States Army addressed the SCV. His charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans is still pertinent:
To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will submit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, and the perpetuation of those principles he loved. Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations. It is our responsibility to see that our children and friends are exposed to the actual history of the South. When we see or hear false or misleading statements, we must stand up and say "You were incorrect; the truth is . . .." If we do not, Southern history will surely perish. If we do, we will prevail.