ABOUT ENSIGN JOHN DAVIS CAMP No. 10
On July 23, 2016, SUVCW Commander-in-Chief, Eugene G. Mortorff, signed the Camp’s Charter and duly presented it to the first Camp Commander, Peter J. Collins, the great-grandson of the Camp’s namesake. Ensign John Davis Camp No.10 was duly established as an “International Camp” of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Ensign John Davis Camp No. 10 has the honour of being the first and only Camp to exist outside of the U.S.A.
A number of activities are organised throughout the year in support of the missions of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. These include a proper observance of Memorial Day (30th May), a Remembrance Day ceremony and holding a Grave Re-Dedication ceremony when a Union veteran’s worn or missing headstone is identified and replaced with a new one.
THE SONS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR
The organisation that is known today as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is the result of several like-minded organisations combining to honour Union soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War, 1861-1865. In 1878, the Anna M. Ross Post No. 94 of the GAR (located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) formed a “GAR Cadet Corps,” consisting of sons of Union soldiers, sailors and marines. It became known as the Philadelphia or Eastern Pennsylvania Sons of Veterans. About the same time, Edwin M. Earp (of Lynn, Massachusetts) formed another Sons of Veterans group that became popular in New England. In 1881, the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America was organised by Major A. P. Davis in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The organisation’s first annual encampment took place in 1882. Through consolidation with the Eastern Pennsylvania group, and its own growth, this particular Order grew to be recognised by the GAR as the sole organisation of “Sons of Union Veterans.”
THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
The idea of forming the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was conceived by Major Benjamin Franklin Stephenson, a surgeon with the 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The idea of forming the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was conceived by Major Benjamin Franklin Stephenson, a surgeon with the 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
He and former comrades in arms formed the first Post of the GAR, chartered in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866. This fraternal organisation, dedicated to the well-being of Union Civil War veterans (and the families of those who did not survive the war), grew rapidly and spread throughout the country. Its influence would impact both public and political culture. The “Memorial Day” tradition of honouring deceased veterans by decorating their graves was initiated by the GAR on May 30, 1868.
By 1890, GAR membership exceeded 408,000 Comrades. Local Posts were eventually formed in 46 Departments (state level organisations). From this peak, each successive year began to take its toll on GAR membership. As the organisation only admitted those who had been Union soldiers & sailors of 1861-1865, it was destined for extinction with the death of its last member. Recognising its fate, the GAR officially designated the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War as its successor and legal heir. The last National Encampment of the GAR took place at Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949 with six surviving members attending.
The Order ceased to exist, with the passing of its last member, Albert Henry Woolson, who died on August 2, 1956 at the age of 109 in Duluth, Minnesota. A veteran of the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment, Comrade Woolson was the “sole officially listed survivor” of more than 2,675,000 men who answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call to help Save the Union.
At its 42nd annual encampment, the organisation voted to officially change its name to “Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War,” to better identify its heritage. As time and nature took its toll on the ranks of the GAR, the Union veterans came to recognise and then designate the SUVCW as legal heir to, and representative of the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1954, the SUVCW was granted a Congressional Charter by passage of Public Law 605 during the 83rd Congress.