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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW)

By:
Chris Cox
Austin Blair Camp No. 7,
Department of Michigan,
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War



At the Civil War Muster at Cascades Falls Park, the Son of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is under the Rotary Band Shell. People stop by to see if they have any ancestors from Michigan who served in the Civil War. On the right side of the band shell people are learning and thanking the men of the Austin Blair Camp 7, Department of Michigan, SUVCW, the local camp in Jackson, for all of the help that they were given to find their ancestors. I wonder why people come to find out about and what their ancestors did in the Civil War, why they want to know where they are buried. The SUVCW organization works on helping men and women find their ancestors. To preserve the United States and offer our lives if need be, to recruit men who have an ancestor who fought for the Union, to honor Union Veterans, preserving and perpetuating the Grand Army of the Republic, and educate the kids in schools and the community.

In 2009, at the Civil War Muster, I started looking in to my past and my ancestor who fought in the Civil War. I join the local camp in Jackson, Michigan on January 11, 2010; I was the first new member of the year. I have studied more in depth the civil war over the past four years of my life. I have had an interest in the Civil War since sixth grade and have furthered my knowledge of the Civil War since then. I study the Civil War and a lot of the information I know is what I have taught myself.

The SUVCW has camps all over the continental United States. The men in the camp in Jackson help men and women find their ancestors at the Civil War Muster or at the Waterloo Farm Museum. Robert Griggs, past commander of the Austin Blair Camp No. 7, said that the SUVCW has "helped me gather more information about my ancestor and the men and women who fought to save the Union." Griggs has three ancestors two in the 12th Michigan Infantry, and one in the 4th Michigan Cavalry according to Members and Ancestors, a web page on Austin Blair Camp No. 7 web site. The camp has helped a lot of people and is still helping them.

The men in the SUVCW have a right to preserve the United States and not let the flag touch the ground. The brothers in the SUVCW in the invocation have to be able to lay down their life to preserve the United States. The article, "Introducing the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War," explains that prior to disbanding and before the death of its last member, the GAR officially designated the SUVCW as its successor and heir to its remaining property (Introducing). Griggs told me about the history of the SUVCW saying, "On August 20, 1954, the SUVCW was officially incorporated by an Act of Congress by the passing of Public Law 605 of the second session of the 83rd Congress." The SUVCW is post Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which was founded in 1866 after the Civil War.

Every brother's job is to recruit men, who have an ancestor who fought for the Union into the SUVCW. Most of the men who join want to learn more about the Civil War. Griggs joined the SUVCW in October of 2002. "I joined because I wanted to learn more about my ancestors as well as the Civil War in general," said Griggs. To join a new member has to fill out application and give it to the local camp. At the camp's meeting they have to vote new members in. After being voted in the new member(s) go through initiation, and then after you are a member of the SUVCW you get the membership badge, which is pin to left side of member's shirt.

In the introduction article, the SUVCW have three main missions, the first one is honoring Union Veterans. Memorial Day (May 30) was first established by the GAR in 1868 (Introducing). The SUVCW goes out on that day to mark the graves of the Civil War Veterans. The Austin Blair Camp No. 7 observes the care and upkeep of the Jackson Defense of the Flag Monument in the downtown Jackson at Withington Park, Wildwood Ave. at West Michigan Ave. The camp participates in the Memorial Day Parades in Jackson and Concord, Michigan.

The next mission is preserving and perpetuating the GAR. The SUVCW assists in the preservation and making available for research, the documents and records pertaining to the GAR and its members (Introducing). The meeting of the camp and the department and nation encampments are held in the same way that the GAR held theirs which are still conducted by the same tradition and rituals of the GAR. Austin Blair Camp No.7 follows the rituals, ceremonies and the tradition that the GAR used.

The last mission of the SUVCW is to educate the kids in schools and the community. The SUVCW has the patriotic education, which includes teaching patriotism and the duties of citizenship, the true history of our country, and the love and respect for our Flag (Introducing). Last May Austin Blair Camp No. 7 went to a middle school down in Adrian, Michigan and taught the kids about the Civil War. The Civil War Sesquicentennial is the biggest chance that the SUVCW will be able to teach eighth graders about the men in blue and gray. The SUVCW is already making preparations for the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which started on November 6, 2010, but the war started on April 12, which is the occasional start of the sesquicentennial.

The SUVCW has done a lot of things for many of people. Griggs said, "I enjoy it very much. I receive the most satisfaction from interacting with the public about the Civil War and telling them some of the stories that came from it. Also I get great satisfaction from finding and creating new links that I can put on the website that will allow more people to gather more information about our group and the American Civil War" (Griggs). The work done by the SUVCW will be around for a long time. I joined the SUVCW and found three ancestors that fought for the Union, two in the 20th Michigan Infantry and one in the 6th Michigan Cavalry. This year at the Civil War Muster, on Sunday, a man came up to the table and I helped him find out more about his ancestor, and after everything I did for him he was a happy man. I was very happy that I was able to locate where his ancestor was buried.

Works Cited
Griggs, Robert. Personal interview. 23 Oct. 2010.
"Introducing the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War." Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.
"Members and Ancestors." Austin Blair Camp No. 7, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Web. 30 Oct. 2010.



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