What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans?
The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.
Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is preserving the history and legacy of these heroes, so future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause.
The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers. Organized at Richmond, Virginia in 1896, the SCV continues to serve as a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.
Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans is open to all male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces. Membership can be obtained through either direct or collateral family lines and kinship to a veteran must be documented genealogically. The minimum age for full membership is 12, but there is no minimum for Cadet membership.
Applicants should submit an application form, along with a detailed genealogy describing your relationship to the veteran, and proof of his service.
To obtain proof of his service, contact the archives of the state from which the soldier fought and obtain a copy of the veteran’s military service record. All Southern state’s archives have microfilm records of the soldiers who fought from that state, and a copy of the information can be obtained for a nominal fee. In addition, the former Confederate states awarded pensions to veterans and their widows. All of these records contain a wealth of information that can be used to document military service.
The SCV has a network of genealogists to assist you in tracing you ancestor’s Confederate service.
The SCV has ongoing programs at the local, state, and national levels which offer members a wide range of activities. Preservation work, marking Confederate soldier’s graves, historical re-enactments, scholarly publications, and regular meetings to discuss the military and political history of the War Between the States are only a few of the activities sponsored by local units, called camps.
All state organizations, known as Divisions, hold annual conventions, and many publish regular newsletters to the membership dealing with statewide issues. Each Division has a corps of officers elected by the membership who coordinate the work of camps and the national organization.
Nationally, the SCV is governed by its members acting through delegates to the annual convention. The General Executive Council, composed of elected and appointed officers, conducts the organization’s business between conventions. The administrative work of the SCV is conducted at the national headquarters, ‘Elm Springs,’ a restored antebellum home at Columbia, Tennessee.
In addition to the privilege of belonging to an organization devoted exclusively to commemorating and honoring Confederate soldiers, members are eligible for other benefits. Every member receives The Confederate Veteran, the bi-monthly national magazine which contains in-depth articles on the war along news affecting Southern heritage. The programs of the SCV range from assistance to undergraduate students through the General Stand Watie Scholarship to medical research grants given through the Brooks Fund. National historical symposiums, reprinting of rare books, and the erection of monuments are just a few of the other projects endorsed by the SCV.
The SCV works in conjunction with other historical groups to preserve Confederate history. However, it is not affiliated with any other group. The SCV rejects any group whose actions tarnish or distort the image of the Confederate soldier or his reasons for fighting.
If you are interested in perpetuating the ideals that motivated your Confederate ancestor, the SCV needs you. The memory and reputation of the Confederate soldier, as well as the motives for his suffering and sacrifice, are being consciously distorted by some in an attempt to alter history. Unless the descendants of Southern soldiers resist those efforts, a unique part of our nations’ cultural heritage will cease to exist.
The History of the Arkansas Division:
The Sons of Confederate Veterans were founded in 1896. The first camp in Arkansas was formed in the inaugural year at Clarksville and named the Hall S. McConnell Camp #111. The initial roster of Arkansas camps included Jefferson Camp #134 in Pine Bluff, William E. Moore Camp #194 in Helena, David O. Dodd Camp #147 of Austin, W.W. Meriweather Camp #188 of Paragould, J. R. Norfleet Camp #194 of Forrest City, and Robert C. Newton Camp #197 in the capitol city, which is the only remaining original camp.
In 1911 the National UCV Reunion was held in Little Rock and eleven thousand Confederate veterans descended on the city. The reunion was a major event for the State and was long remembered. Recently a long lost Confederate reunion flag of massive proportions was found and it is thought to be the flag that flew over the city during the great 1911 reunion. The Veterans returned to the State for a final time for the reunion of 1928. In addition, during the reunion a monument was dedicated to the “Capital Guard” 6TH Arkansas Company D. In 2004, the Robert C. Newton Camp, #197, was a part of the team that refurbished that same statue.
With the disruptions of the World Wars and the passing of the veterans membership declined and in 1948 there were only two camps remaining in Arkansas with a total membership of 58. In 1949, Little Rock was selected as the site for the annual SCV reunion and again in 1965.
By 1983, Arkansas had only one active SCV camp, the Robert C. Newton Camp #197 of Little Rock. Commander-in-Chief Charles H. Smith made it one of the goals of his administration to bring Arkansas back into the forefront of the SCV. Commander Smith contacted all of the Arkansans who were members of the SCV without camps to join him and his staff in Little Rock. The meeting was held and the foundation of the modern-era SCV in Arkansas was laid out. The State was divided into sections and members were asked to make contacts. Shortly, joining the Newton Camp, were the General Jo Shelby Camp #1414 in Harrison (by James Troy Massey of Harrison), quickly followed with the David O. Dodd Camp in Benton (by Anthony Rushing of Benton), and the General Patrick R. Cleburne Camp in Pine Bluff. With the establishment of these camps, the SCV officially made Arkansas a Division of the SCV in April of 1984 with Troy Massey named as the new Division Commander.
Commanders since 1984 have been Larry Rhodes (Hot Springs), Anthony Rushing (Benton), Buzz Lowe, Justin Morgan (Mansfield), David Wilson (Mount Holly), Everett Burr (Harrison), Steve Westerfield (Benton) , William Danny Honnoll (Jonesboro), Charles “Chuck” Durnette (Little Rock), and currently Mark Kalkbrenner (Pine Bluff). Under their leadership, the Arkansas Division grew to 24 Camps with over 500 members at the beginning of 2006.
Each Camp supports historical and civil activities in it area. They help in preserving our Arkansas battlefields, monuments, and historic sites. They donate money to local charities, pick up trash for the Arkansas Highway Department’s Adopt-A-Highway program, and are otherwise active in the community. They also speak to civic organizations, church groups, and schools, educating them on the history of the South and Arkansas. Other activities by members have included providing genealogical assistance at their local libraries, and making their personal Civil War artifacts and collections available for public viewing.
The primary activities of the Arkansas camps are to give the Confederate fighting man the honor he is due. This is accomplished through gravesite location and cleanup, placing of grave markers and memorials, and holding memorial services on holidays and anniversaries. In 2004, the Arkansas Division held a burial service with full military honors for six Confederate Soldiers who died in battle but had lain undiscovered until recent times.