Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)
The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization established to honor the memory of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. In Arkansas, there are eighteen camps of the SCV (as of 2010), and the organization works to commemorate Arkansas’s Confederate heritage through annual memorial events and more.
The SCV is a direct offshoot of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), a voluntary organization of many veterans who fought for the Confederacy during its brief existence (1861–1865). The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in 1896 at the convention of the UCV. Initially, the SCV was charged with two duties: assisting the UCV and its elderly members at their conventions and other activities, and ensuring that the history of the Confederacy and its struggle be accurately documented. At the 1896 convention, General Stephen D. Lee charged the SCV with “the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles he loved and which made him glorious and which you also cherish.”
The first SCV camp in Arkansas was also formed in the inaugural year at Clarksville (Johnson County) and was named the Hall S. McConnell 111. The initial roster of Arkansas camps included Jefferson Camp 134 in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), William E. Moore Camp 194 in Helena (Phillips County), David O. Dodd Camp 147 in Austin (Lonoke County), W. W. Meriweather Camp 188 in Paragould (Greene County), J. R. Norfleet Camp 194 in Forrest City (St. Francis County), and Robert C. Newton Camp 197 in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock camp is the only remaining original camp.
The Arkansas SCV declined considerably after the world wars, and only two camps remained in the state in 1948, with a total membership of fifty-eight. The decline was in the wake of World War II, which prompted the formation of new veterans’ groups; this tended to supplant interest in Civil War heritage organizations. By 1983, the only SCV presence in Arkansas was the Robert C. Newton Camp 197. However, Commander-in-Chief Charles H. Smith brought a renewed optimism and spirit that swelled the ranks of the SCV to eighteen camps and more than 400 members as of 2009 by implementing membership drives and writing articles published in Confederate Veteran magazine, as well as numerous newspaper articles advocating interest in Confederate history.
The SCV promotes three yearly events pertaining to state Confederate history. They are the David O. Dodd Memorial held each January in Little Rock at Mount Holly Cemetery, the General Patrick R. Cleburne Memorial held each March in Helena at Maple Hill Cemetery, and Confederate Flag Day held the Saturday before Easter on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock. Even though the erection of monuments is primarily a United Daughters of the Confederacy function, the Arkansas SCV has helped refurbish certain monuments such as the statue commemorating the Capital Guards at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock; the rediscovery of the General Stand Watie Iron Cross of Honor and a presentation of it to the Cherokee Nation Museum in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; and the placement of a gravestone to mark the final resting place of the remains of the “Fagan Six” Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Helena.
For additional information:
“Confederate Group Holding Flag Service.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 20, 2008, p. 3B.
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Arkansas Division. http://ardvscv.tripod.com/ (accessed October 5, 2009).
Tubbs, Brandon. “Event to Commemorate ‘Boy Martyr’ Hanging.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 4, 2008, p. 2B.
Sons of Confederate Veterans, James M. Keller Camp # 648
Last Updated: 04/14/2010