January 2022

The Alabama Banner | January 2022

From the Editor:

A lot of activity in the Department reported in this issue.  Leadership, at all levels always, has an impact on advancing organizational goals and objectives.    The Alabama Department, at all levels, has leaders!

Enclosed in this issue is an incredible history on the GAR in Alabama by Historian Richard Blanton.

Norman Dasinger, Jr
Gadsden, AL
[email protected]


Howard Poarch, Commander
Department of Alabama

The ladies of the Department are continuing to organize a Department Auxiliary.  The membership at this time is in excess of the required 5 members.  The ladies plan to meet separately at our Encampment on February 19th in order to formalize their Auxiliary.  If there are other ladies in the Department that are interested, please See Mark Hubbs or me for more specific information.

The encampment is scheduled for February 19th at the Hampton Inn in Hoover.  If you have not registered, please send your registration to the Department Secretary, James Poarch. 

National has issued specific requirements for Zoom meetings at the Camp and the Department level.  Plans are presently underway to update the guidelines.  Watch for an update from the Commander-in-Chief. 

Now that we are officially a 501(c)(3) organization we can officially accept tax deductible contributions.  If your camp receives a special purpose or designated contributions, please contact the Department for specific instructions. 

I hope all the new camp officers will take the time to review the Constitution and Regulations.  There is a detailed list of the duties of each officer.

Camps need to begin work on the JROTC and ROTC awards.  The Commanders of the JROTC and ROTC programs will select a deserving cadet.

Sorry, this is a short article but I am spending most of my extra time preparing for the Encampment that is just a month away.


 [email protected]

Ladies Auxiliary at the Department of Alabama Encampment

From M.E. Hubbs

The 2022 Encampment will include the first official gathering of the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans.  We hope all of the ASUVCW Members at Large (MILs) will join us in February.  It only takes 5 MILs to seek a charter from the National HQ of the ASUVCW.   ASUVCW Department Coordinator, Mark Hubbs, will meet with the MILs to discuss seeking a charter and what is involved in the process. 

Phyllis Hubbs, who attended the National ASUVCW Encampment in 2021 will also share her experiences. 

A meeting place has been set aside in the hotel lobby and we hope to begin about 10:00 AM.

Some things to think about before the meeting:  

* What to name your Auxiliary (Brother Hubbs will provide some ideas, but it is up to the ladies and it need not be decided immediately.) 

* Will the Auxiliary require local dues, and if so what should they be?  (note there are some modest start-up costs for a new Auxiliary.)

* Who will be the Auxiliary Organizer?  That will be the lady who submits the request for charter and other paperwork to National HQ.

* Who will be the first officers of the new Auxiliary?   The minimum is a President, Treasurer and Secretary.  The Treasurer can also be the Secretary.  

Brother Hubbs would like to have the direct email addresses for all the Alabama MILs so he can forward information directly to the ladies as the Encampment nears. Please forward those to:   [email protected]

Chaplain’s Article #4, Department of Alabama

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back….

Just a few months ago I was rejoicing with you that the pandemic seemed to be over and that we were all getting to meet again, face to face, and enjoying the warmth of fellowship with the brothers that is only possible when physically in each other’s presence.  Then another wave of illness came amongst us, and despite the joyfulness of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season arrived, we all have known someone that has fallen ill, and have even died.  Restrictions have once again tightened and it seems that we may very well have to go back to Zoom meetings and keeping our distance.  I admit, it seemed that all our progress to achieve normality seemed to have ‘gone up in smoke.’  While it may seem that our physical advance back to normalcy may have been delayed, our broad understanding of spiritual forces at work in our world has not.  If you are a believer, remember the promise of God to us, even for such times as this:  “But now, this is what the LORD says — he who created you, O Jacob, HE who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are MINE. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your GOD, the HOLY ONE of Israel, your SAVIOR;'” – Isaiah 43:1-3a.

Such setbacks are inevitable in our struggle against negative circumstances that the world throws our way.  But don’t forget that such setbacks are temporary and we are moving forward.  Why?  Because HE always has your best in mind and desires to set you up for the greatest success possible—even during a pandemic.  HIS thoughts are higher than your thoughts and HIS ways are higher than your ways – this should inspire such confidence within each of us!   The CREATOR of the universe, the MASTER of all that surrounds you, and the only ONE who can orchestrate your life intimately not only cares for you, but HE is able to always know what will give you the most benefit.  HE can – and HE wants to – actively work out all things for your good.  For believers in Christ the Apostle James noted, “When you bow down before the LORD and admit your dependence on HIM, HE will lift you up and give you honor.” – James 4:10.  By our prudent precautions and our reliance on the Lord, we will continue to move forward, no matter what the world throws at us.  I hope to see you all at the upcoming Department Encampment!

Camp Chaplains, just a reminder:

The Role of the Chaplain in the SUVCW:

The following is taken from the National Website, Constitution and Regulations of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (http://www.suvcw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Blue-Book-2020a.pdf) regarding the purpose and duties of the Chaplain.

Regulations, Chapter I, Camps, Article VIII. Appointed Officers Job Descriptions & Duties, Section 2, Camp Chaplain:

Purpose. The purpose of the office of Chaplain is to conduct such devotional services as directed by the Camp or Department.

Activities Camp Chaplain.  The purpose of the office of Chaplain is to conduct such devotional services as directed by the Camp or Department. The Chaplain shall perform such duties as are prescribed by the Ritual of the Order or indicated by the official blank forms, or directed by the Commander. The activities of the Camp Chaplain should include:

  1. Conducting prayer at all meetings;
  2. Conducting grave site services for Brothers and important dignitaries;
  3. Conducting memorials for grave dedication or rededication ceremonies of veterans – especially Union veterans;
  4. Serving as custodian of the Camp Bible unless assigned to another Camp officer;
  5. Preparing an annual necrology of Camp Brothers and submitting the list to Department Chaplain;
  6. Serving as coordinator for the Camp’s Memorial Day ceremony;
  7. Becoming familiar with the duties of the office as set forth in the Order’s Rituals and Ceremonials.

Barry L. Spink, Chaplain
Department of Alabama


Admiral David E. Farragut Camp No. 5

Mobile Bay

November was a tide-water month for the ADM Farragut Camp.  Invitations to three Veterans Day celebrations kept participating Camp members busy attending a Sunrise Flag Raising event at Battleship Park, followed by the City of Mobile Veterans Day Parade, culminating with the Military Veterans Association Awards Luncheon at Mobile National Guard Armory Hall.  Each event was attended in full period correct Union uniforms and accessories, with the U.S. Flag leading the way.  Numerous compliments and admiration from fellow participants and the public were warmly received.  Camp participants in the day’s events were: Guard, Glenn Webber; Graves Registration, Ian Häntz; Secretary, Stuart Ritter; Chaplain, Bill Morgan; and Commander Wesley Sainz. 

 At the end of the day, Brother Ian Häntz identified several Union soldiers’ headstones in his hometown in need of cleaning.  This is one of the before and after pictures. 

The Christmas season was a quiet time for the ADM Farragut Camp No. 5 with membership celebrating the Christmas holiday and New Year season with family and friends.  Of note, was welcoming new Associate member Nathan Cothern of Gulfport, Mississippi. Mr. Cothern has reviewed his family genealogy and identified several ancestors who served in the Union military.  Once his lineage is verified, his member status will be upgraded accordingly

 In other news, the Farragut camp is expected to grow by four new members in January.  This brings the total to 16 members since the Camp formed only six months ago.   

Wesley Sainz, Cmdr.
ADM Farragut Camp No. 5

John T Croxton Camp #17


It was a great honor to award Eagle Scout Daniel Tews the SUVCW Eagle Scout Certificate and special Patch on Sep 26, 2021. Douglas is a member of Troop 14 of the Greater Birmingham Council. The Eagle Court of Honor was held at the First Baptist Church, Pinson, AL. Each Brother should contact the BSA Troop in your community and explain the SUVCW Eagle Scout presentation to the Scoutmaster and any parents of potential Eagle Scouts.

On December 13, 2021, the Croxton Camp met at Sherry’s Café, Trussville, AL. The 2022 Camp Officers elected were: James Poarch, Commander; Michael Garrett, Sr. Vice Commander, Thomas Granger, Jr., as our Jr. Vice Commander; Council Members, Ralph Edwards, Brent Goodwin, and Derrek Oldham; Secretary – Treasurer, Marshall McEuen. The Appointed Officers are: Patriotic Instructor, Carl Addison; Chaplain, Brent Goodwin; Graves Registration Officer, Howard Poarch; Eagle Scout Coordinator, James Poarch. The next Croxton Camp meeting will be on Saturday, January 29, 2022.  It will be held at the Trussville Public Library, 201 Parkway Drive, Trussville, beginning at 10:30 am.  Our guest speaker will be one of ours, Norman Dasinger, Jr. He will speak on Col Croxton and the skirmish at Munford, Alabama.


The Second Department of Alabama Encampment will be held at the Hoover Hampton Inn, 4520 Galleria Blvd., Hoover, AL, 35244 (205-380-3300) on Saturday, February 19, 2022. Remember, if you have not placed your reservations by January 15th, the price will be increased by $5.00 to $50.00.



‘The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Preamble reads –

We, the descendants of soldiers, sailors, or marines who served in the Army or Navy of the United States of America during the War of the Rebellion of 1861 to 1865, have formed this patriotic and fraternal Order, for the purpose and objects in this Constitution set forth; and in so doing pledge ourselves to commemorate our fathers’ deeds; to render loyal service to our Country, and to promote the maintenance of unqualified American citizenship with respect for and honor to the flag.

By honoring deserving cadets, we help promote the maintenance of unqualified American citizenship because it will be these young people who will eventually serve in our Nation’s military, under the flag our forefathers fought to preserve.

Our Purpose and Objects include – … to cooperate in doing honor to all who have patriotically served our country in any war; to teach patriotism, and the duties of citizenship, the true history of our country, and the love and honor of our Flag; to oppose every tendency or movement that would weaken loyalty to, or make for the destruction or impairment of our constitutional Union; and to inculcate and broadly sustain the American principles of representative government, of equal rights, and of impartial justice for all.

          We believe it right to award those who have stepped forward to accept the challenge of leadership in defending our Nation’s flag, principles, and freedoms. By honoring those who serve today, we show our respect for those who have served in all others war in the past – Quote from the ROTC/JROTC Award, suvcw.org. [https://www.suvcw.org/?page_id=2076]’

The Croxton Camp will present three or four JROTC and one ROTC Awards during 2022.               

James Poarch,
MG J. T. Croxton Camp

Pvt. Richard Taylor Camp #53



Prepared by Brother Richard Blanton.

Members of the Private Richard Taylor Camp No. 53 came together November 30, 2021 at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in Huntsville, Alabama for a general membership meeting.  Eight camp members were present at the library.    Camp No. 53 members in attendance were Camp Commander Mark Hubbs, Sr. Vice Commander Richard Blanton, Jr. Vice Commander Ray Cassell and Secretary/Treasurer Geoffrey Hintze, Brothers Kent Wright, John Hayes, Doug Wilson and Steven Sheldon.  Department Commander Howard Poarch and Sr. Vice Commander James Poarch were also in attendance.

The primary agenda for the evening was the approval of updated camp bylaws, nomination and election of the Camp officers for the upcoming year 2022, discussion of proposed camp projects and the upcoming Department of Alabama Encampment.  The bylaws had been releases several weeks prior to the meeting to allow members to review.  Brother Blanton motioned to accept the bylaws with Brother Cassel seconding the motion.  The updated bylaws were approved unanimously by the members present.

The slate of 2022 camp officers was proposed and a motion was made by Commander Hubbs to accept the proposed slate and seconded by Brother Cassell.  The following individuals were then elected unanimously by the members present: Mark E. Hubbs, Camp Commander; Ray Cassell, Senior Vice-Commander; Doug Wilson, Junior Vice-Commander; Geoffrey Hintze, Secretary-Treasurer.  Doug Wilson, Richard L. Blanton Jr. and Kent Wright were elected as the Camp Council Members for 2022.  Department of Alabama Commander Howard Poarch oversaw the installation ceremony swearing in the 2022 camp officers.

The upcoming 2nd annual Department of Alabama encampment in February 2022 was discussed along with the need to elect the camp delegates.  Two members need to be elected at a later date.  It was mentioned that in addition to the two members to be elected that the Taylor camp as three additional delegates due to the fact as having been prior camp or department officers.  These were Brothers Richard Blanton, Geoffrey Hintze and Mark Hubbs.  A fourth, Brother Doug Wilson, is pending approval by National but is unlikely to be completed by the time of the encampment.

Old Business discussed was the U.S. Grant Camp trophy presented to the Department of Alabama at the last National Encampment in St. Louis.  Department Commander Poarch brought the trophy to the meeting to allow camp members to view it.  The trophy was for the greatest percentage in membership from 2020 to 2021.

Commander Hubbs reported the camp had lost three members over the past year.  One member passed away and two others who live in Utah have chosen to transfer to a SUVCW camp in Utah.  That leaves the camp with total current membership of 17.

The final section of the meeting was addressing new business.  Five potential 2022 projects were discussed.

  1. Proposed Memorial Day Service at Glenwood Cemetery in Huntsville honoring 13 USCT soldiers.
  2. Replacement of a headstone in the Old Madison Cemetery where a Union veteran was mismarked with a Confederate marker.
  3. A proposed Civil War exhibit at the Athens Veterans Museum with a mannequin dressed as a member of the 106th United States Colored Troop (U.S.C.T.)
  4. Meeting of the Women’s Auxiliary during the upcoming department encampment.  Department Commander Poarch announce there are now four Auxiliary members state-wide with the possibility that number may have increased to seven members by the time of the February encampment.
  5. A commemorative marker honoring the 6-12 Union casualties that occurred from an accidental explosion of an artillery caisson belonging to Coggswell’s Independent Battery, Illinois Light Artillery on April 11, 1863 that occurred directly in front of the Huntsville Depot.

Camp 53 would also like to welcome new brother Justin Mullins.  Brother Justin comes in honor of his 4th Great Uncle, William Cline of the 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in the state of Alabama

By Brother Richard Blanton the Dept Historian

Following the Civil War, several Union veterans of that conflict formed what would grown to be a National fraternal organization.  Departments would form encompassing individual camps formed by veterans of those communities.  Most, if not all of the initial camps were formed in the North as initial attempts to establish Posts in the former Southern Confederate states were unsuccessful in the early post-war years.  It was felt too soon after the war along with the volatile political climate resulting from the Union occupation in the defeated South and the forced Reconstruction policies.

This hostility can be seen in the case for the Department of Tennessee and Georgia which was created in August 1868 composed of 17 posts.  Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest was quoted by a newspaper correspondent that the Ku Lux Klan had been established in the Tennessee as a ‘protection against Loyal Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic’.  Many G.A.R. members, given the choice of leaving the state or disavowing their membership in the G.A.R., dropped out resulting in the collapse of the G.A.R. in that state.  It was not until May 1883 that four new posts were organized and in February the following year that Department status was regained by that state.

By 1889, the Department of Tennessee had expanded to well over 100 posts including one post in Huntsville, Alabama—Huntsville Post 53!  This was an example of a Department composed of multiple states.

“A G.A.R. Post has been organized in our city with the following officers: Comrade Swinehart, Post Commander; J. H. Speakman, Adjutant; Dan Schiffman, S.V.C.; G. Hubert, J.V.C.; W. F. Struve, QM; John D. Blackwell, OD; J. Arthur, OG; J. H. Bliss, Chaplain; W. S. Crilly, Surgeon.

The Post was organized by Col. E. S. Jones, commander of the G.A.R., Dept. of Tennessee and Georgia, and will be known as Huntsville Post, No. 53, G.A.R.” {Article in The Huntsville Weekly Democrat newspaper, Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, dated Wednesday, October 27, 1886}

Local Post of Grand Army of the Republic.  Col. Ed S. Jones, of Nashville, organized in this city, Tuesday night, a post of the Republic, composed as follows:

Comrade Swinehart, Post Commander; J. H. Speakman, Adjutant; Dan Schiffman, S.V.C.; Geo. Hubert, J.V.C.; W. F. Struve, Q.M., John D. Blackwell, O.D.; J. Arthur, O.G.; J. H. Bliss, Chaplain; W. S. Crilly, Surgeon.

Messrs. Hubert, Schiffman and Blackwell were appointed to secure a hall for future meetings and there was an adjournment to the night of November 2.” {Article in The Huntsville Independent newspaper, Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, dated Thursday, October 28, 1886.}

Election of Officers for Huntsville Post.  At a regular meeting of the Huntsville Post No. 53 G.A.R., on the 14th day of Dec. 1886, the following officers were elected for the year 1887.

Comrade S. F. Sweinhart, Post Commander.

Comrade Dan. Schiffman, 1st Vice Post Commander.

Comrade George Hubert, 2nd Vice Post Commander.

Comrade Dan. C. Clark, Quarter Master.

Comrade Chris. Hauer, Surgeon.

Comrade W. S. Crilly, Chaplain.

Comrade John G. Blackwell, Officer of the Day.

Comrade Wm. C. Wells, Outside Guard.

The Post Commander appointed Comrade J. H. Speakman, Adj.  Quartermaster Clark appointed Comrade W. F. Struve, Q.M. Sergt.  Adj. Speakman appointed Comrade E. R. Bliss, Sergt. Maj.

The Post elected 1st Vice Commander Dan. Schiffman as Representative and Post Commander S. F. Sweinhart alternate to represent the Post in the Department Encampment to be held at Knoxville, Tenn., Feb 26th, 1887.  {Article in The Huntsville Independent newspaper, Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, dated Thursday, December 16, 1886.}

By December 1888, what Alabama G.A.R. Posts that existed were still part of the Department of Tennessee and Georgia.  Department Commander Rule issued orders dated December 14thof that year detaching the posts in the states of Georgia and Alabama reconstituting them as the “Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama.”{Article in The Chattanooga Daily Times newspaper, Chattanooga, Tennessee dated Sunday, December 16, 1888} The Alabama posts included the George A. Custer Post 49 in Birmingham, the Huntsville Post No. 53 in Huntsville and the M. Harrison Post No. 75 in Larkinsville.  Within months, the Department of Alabama would be formed on March 12, 1889 headquartered in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama.

Department of AlabamaDetached from the Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama.  Organized as the Permanent Department of Alabama March 12, 1889.  Department disbanded with death of its last member in December 1940.
George A. Custer Post No. (49) 1, BirminghamNamed for MG George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876).  Camp organized & mustered-in 1887as Camp 49 in while part of the Department of Tennessee & Georgia.   Detached along with Cullman, Huntsville and Larkinsville camps in Alabama and camps in Georgia and constituted as part of the Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama on December 14, 1888.  Became part of the Department of Alabama March 12, 1889.Not clear when Post No. 1 designation began nor when Post disbanded.
John F. Reynolds Post No. (24) 2, CullmanNamed for MG John Fulton Reynolds (1820-1863; KIA Battle of Gettysburg July 1, 1863.  Camp organized & mustered-in 1887 as Camp 49 in while part of the Department of Tennessee & Georgia.   Detached along with Birmingham, Huntsville and Larkinsville camps in Alabama and camps in Georgia and constituted as part of the Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama on December 14, 1888.  Became part of the Department of Alabama March 12, 1889.Not clear when Post No. 2 designation began nor when Post disbanded.
Huntsville Post No. 53, HuntsvilleNamed for community Post was based.  Camp organized & mustered-in October 26, 1886 as Camp 53 in while part of the Department of Tennessee & Georgia.   Detached along with Birmingham, Cullman and Larkinsville camps in Alabama and camps in Georgia and constituted as part of the Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama on December 14, 1888.    Became part of the Department of Alabama March 12, 1889.Disbanded 1892.
Huntsville Post No. 3, HuntsvilleNamed for community Post was based.  Originated & mustered-in June 9, 1897.  Disbandment date unknown.
M. Harrison Post No. (75) 4, LarkinsvilleCamp organized & mustered-in as Camp 75 in while part of the Department of Tennessee & Georgia.   Detached along with Birmingham, Cullman, and Huntsville camps in Alabama and camps in Georgia and constituted as part of the Provisional Department of Georgia and Alabama on December 14, 1888.  Became part of the Department of Alabama March 12, 1889.Not clear when Post No. 4 designation began nor when Post disbanded.
W. B. Woods Post No. 6, MontgomeryNamed for, former Colonel of 76th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry later Brigadier General William B. Woods (-1887).  Post organized & mustered-in February 12, 1889 in Montgomery, Alabama with 18 charter members. Disbandment date unknown.
John A. Logan Post No. 7, AnnistonNamed for MG John Alexander Logan (1826-1886).  Not much information found.
Daniel Tyler Post No. 7, AnnistonNamed for BG Daniel P. Tyler IV (1799-1882).Not much information found.
U. S. Grant Post No. (55) 8, DecaturNamed for Gen Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885).  Not much information found.
Phil Sheridan Post No. 9, FlorenceNamed for Phillip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888).  Post organized & mustered-in March 1889.Disbandment date unknown.
R. W. Thompson Post No. 10, Steele’s DepotNamed for 1st Sergeant Russell W. Thompson, Co. K, 3rd Regiment, TN Cav (Union) captured at Sulphur Creek Trestle AL September 25, 1864; killed in loss of SS Sultana on April 27, 1865.Not much information found.
Goldwood Post No. 11, MobileNamed for Corp Charles Goldwood (????-1865), Co. I, 76th Regiment, IL Vol. Infantry, KIA at Fort Blakely AL on April 9, 1865.  Post organized & mustered-in August 10, 1889 with 11 charter members. Disbandment date unknown.
General George H. Thomas Post No. 12, DeKalbNamed for MG George Henry Thomas (1816-1870).  Post organized & mustered-in unknown.  Reorganized June 5, 1897.Disbandment date unknown.
W. T. Sherman Post No. 13, AthensNamed for MG William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891).  Post organized & mustered-in August 17, 1882 with 26 charter members. Disbandment date unknown.
Phil Sheridan Post No. 14, TownleyNamed for Phillip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888).  Post organized & mustered-in July 4, 1891 (Townley, Walker County) with 25 charter members. Disbandment date unknown.
E. F. Jennings Post No. 15, MoultonInformation on namesake of Post has not been found and verified.  Not much information found.
Garfield Post No. 16, Rowland (Tanner)Named for MG James Abram Garfield (1831-1881).Not much information found.
Abe Lincoln Post No. 17, BirminghamNamed for President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865).  Post organized & mustered-in January 28, 1901 with 15 charter members. Not much information found.
James S. Negley Post 18, FlorenceNamed for MG James Scott Negley (1826-1901).  Post organized & mustered-in May 31, 1903 with 15 charter members. Not much information found.
Joe Hooker Post No. 54, Double SpringsNamed for MG Joseph Hook (1814-1879).Not much information found.

The number of Posts being organized in Alabama grew rapidly with the Department of Alabama.  The new department installed 12 Posts—George A. Custer Post No. 1 (redesignated from No. 49), Birmingham; John Reynolds Post No. 2, Cullman; Huntsville Post 53, Huntsville; M. Harrison Post 4 (redesignated from No. 75), Larkinsville; W. B. Woods Post No. 6, Montgomery; John A. Logan/Daniel Tyler Post No. 7, Anniston; U.S. Grant No. 8 (redesignated from No. 55), Decatur; R. W. Thompson Post No. 10, Steel’s Depot (Gadsden); Goldwood Post No. 11, Mobile; General Thomas Post No. 12, Fort Payne; Joe Hooker Post No. 54, Double Springs and W. T. Sherman Post No. 13, Athens.

G.A.R.  Will Hold Its Annual Meeting Here in April Next. The Alabama Department of the Grand Army of the Republic will hold its annual meeting and encampment in Birmingham early in April.  At the encampment a permanent State department will be organized.  Fifteen posts from fifteen different localities in the State will be on hand, and a grand time is expected by all.  Elaborate preparations are being made for the occasion.  The encampment will probably hold forth a week or two.

At the same time the Sons of Veterans of the G.A.R. of Alabama and Tennessee will hold their annual encampment in this city.  Twelve camps will be present, representing a membership of from 300 to 450 persons.

Birmingham is the State headquarters of both these organizations.  Brigadier General F. G. Sheperd, of the G.A.R., and Col. M. D. Friedman, of the Sons of Veterans, both reside in this city.  They are making big preparations for the two encampments.” {Article in The Evening News newspaper, Alabama, dated Saturday, February 16, 1889}

Alabama would continue to convene annual encampments often at different cities within the state until 1940.  Below is a listing of the Alabama Department Encampments, the dates and locations their held at.

NumberDate(s) HeldLocations Held
FirstOrganized March 12, 1889; Apr 1890Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
SecondMarch 28, 1890Headquarters of W. B. Woods Post No. 6 over the First National Bank in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama.
Third1891Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
FourthJune 17, 1892 
Fifth1893Cullman, Cullman County, Alabama
Sixth1894Y.M.C.A. Hall on 18th Street, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Seventh1895Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama
EighthMay 12, 1896Fraternal Hall, 213 ½ 19th Street, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Nineth1897Cullman, Cullman County, Alabama
TenthMarch 4, 1898Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama
EleventhMay 2, 1899Engineer’s Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
TwelfthMay 3, 1900Cullman, Cullman County, Alabama
ThirteenthApril 22, 1901Anniston, Calhoun County, Alabama
FourteenApril 17, 1902Odd Fellows Hall, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama
FifteenthApril 1903Magnolia Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Seventeenth1905Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama
Eighteenth1906Fraternal Hall, 2nd Ave. between 22nd&23rd Streets, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Nineteenth1907Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twentieth1908Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-first1909Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-second1910Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-third1911Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-fourth1912Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-fifth1913Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-sixth1914Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-seventhMarch 17, 1915Grand Army Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-eighth1916Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Twenty-nineth1917Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirtieth1918Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-first1919Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-second1920Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-third1921Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-fourth1922Fraternal Hall, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-fifth1923Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-sixth1924Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-seventh1925Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-eighth1926Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Thirty-nineth1927Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Fortieth1928Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-first1929Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-second1930Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-thirdJune 4, 1931Home of George P. Jackson, Homewood, suburb of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-fourth1932Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-fifth1933Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-sixthApril 25, 1934Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-seventh1935Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-eighthMay 1936Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Forty-nineth1937Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Fiftieth1938Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Fifty-first1939Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Fifty-second1940Note: Death of last Alabama G.A.R. member was in December, 1940.

It was expected that each office of the local G.A.R. Posts or Departments would be responsible for maintaining its own records and files.  Has time marched on and the rolls of the Boys in Blue began to thin, Posts began to disband.  As they did, their records were evidently treated a s personal property with some materials being thrown out or burned by disinterested executors or descendants.  Some may have even made their way into private collections.  Fortunately, some records managed to make their way in local, state or national archives.  It’s unknown how many may still exist stored away and forgotten in attics!

For Alabama, no records are listed among the materials in the State Archives in Montgomery.  No have been discovered yet in any of the cities or counties the G.A.R. Posts originally were in.  There are scattered newspaper articles that have been found the provide snippets into their histories.

For instance, on July 17, 1890, it was reported in the Huntsville Post 53 had installed James H. Bone as the Post Commander and announced “the order is now in a flourishing condition, which we are glad to say.”

In another lengthy article, dated July 29, 1890, a reunion was described of Confederate veterans of the 4th Alabama Cavalry, 4th Alabama Infantry, and other former Southern soldiers of Madison County.  In a spirit of reconciliation between the former adversaries, sweeping the Nation at that time, the Federal veterans were invited.  Over 23 Union veterans, including two African American, accepted invitation and led by Commander Bone, they marched in a parade that began at the Calhoun House, wound through downtown Huntsville and ending at the courthouse.

Regulations then required Posts to be numbered consecutively within a Department.  Post 53 continued until 1892 when it was disbanded.  But in 1897, a new Post in Huntsville was organized as Post 3. This post was apparently disbanded sometime between 1900 and 1907.

By 1907, there were only 7 active Posts remaining in the Department of Alabama—W. B. Woods Post No. 3, Montgomery, Daniel Tyler/John A. Logan Post No. 7, Anniston, U. S. Grant/Decatur Post No. 8/55, Decatur, Garfield Post No. 16, Rowland (Tanner), Phil Sheridan/James S. Negley Post 9/18, Florence and with two Posts in Birmingham, George A. Custer Post No. 1 and Abe Lincoln Post No. 17.

Two Veterans At G.A.R. Conclave.  With two veterans of the War Between the States present, Henry Austin, 95, and James A. Ashworth, 91, the annual meeting of the Department of Alabama, Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans’ organization of the Union soldiers of 1861-1865 controversy, was held in Birmingham Wednesday.

During the last year Charles E. Jones, Tuscaloosa, who was department commander, and George F. Jackson, Birmingham, for many years assistant adjutant general of the state organization died.  There are less than 10 members of the Grand Army of the Republic still alive in Alabama.  It has been decided to keep the state organization going as long as there are two or more living.  The attendance at the encampment in Birmingham Wednesday was limited because of inability of others to travel, through proxies were received.  Mr. Ashworth becomes department commander and Mr. Austin will be assistant adjutant general.  Mr. Austin is a member of the Masonic fraternity, the Elks and other fraternal bodies here.” {Article on The Birmingham News newspaper, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, dated Wednesday, April 25, 1934}

G.A.R. Membership In State Almost Gone.  Annual meeting of the Department of Alabama, Grand Army of the Republic, veterans of the Federal Army in the War Between the States, 1861-1865, will be held in Birmingham next month.  Rapidly vanishing, this meeting may consist of two men, possibly three, the membership of the department now including but a few men, ranging in ages between 94 to 102.  The oldest member resides in the county but will hardly be able to get to the convention.”{Article in The Birmingham News newspaper, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, dated Saturday, April 25, 1936}

The Department of Alabama of the G.A.R. passed into history in 1940.  Eighty years later, it’s successor organization, the SUVCW organized a Department of Alabama in June 2020.  Formed with three camps, within it’s first year of existence, two additional camps were organized.

On one final note, when a camp of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) was organized in Huntsville in 1997, it is believed it was granted the honor of being designated Camp 53 in honor of the Huntsville G.A.R. Post No. 53 that was formed here 111 years earlier.

If there is anyone who has information regarding any of the Alabama G.A.R. Posts, whether a member of the SUVCW or the Public, they are encouraged to contact a representative of any of the five active camps.

The Alabama Banner  is  the official publication of the Department  of Alabama, Sons of   Union Veterans of the Civil War. 

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Alabama Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
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