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The United Confederate Veterans, also known as the UCV, was a veteran's organization for former Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War, and was equivalent to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) which was the organization for Union veterans.
History[edit | edit source]
Prior to 1889, Confederate veterans had no national organization similar to the Grand Army of the Republic. Several separate fraternal and memorial groups existed on a local and regional level. Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1889, several of these groups united and formed the United Confederate Veterans Association. The organization was founded to serve as a benevolent, historical, social, and literary association. The UCV was active well into the 1940s. Its final reunion was held in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1951.
The primary functions of the organization were to provide for widows and orphans of former Confederate soldiers, preserve relics and mementos, care for disabled former soldiers, preserve a record of the service of its members, and organize reunions and fraternal gatherings. At its height, membership in the organization was approximately 160,000 former Confederate soldiers organized into 1,885 local camps. A privately produced magazine called Confederate Veteran was popular with UCV members, with articles about events during the war and providing a forum for lost comrades to locate one another.
The organizational structure of the UCV was based on a military-style hierarchy with a national headquarters, three departments, divisions within those departments, and finally the local camps. The national officers were at first known as "Generals Commanding" and later as "Commander-in-Chief". Commanders were not based on the actual rank of the veteran while in service. Commanders-in-Chief ranged from former Generals to former Privates. Former Confederate General John Brown Gordon was the first commander of the UCV in 1890, holding this position until his death in 1904, when he was succeeded by Stephen D. Lee. Later commanders included former generals Clement A. Evans, William L. Cabell, and George W. Gordon.
The UCV organized many local and national reunions of Confederate veterans. Some of the national reunions attracted thousands of former veterans. In 1875, the Confederate and Union veterans first met in reunion at Bunker Hill. In 1881 Union veterans decorated Confederate graves during Mardi Gras in New Orleans as a sign of respect. Between 1881 and 1887, Federal and Confederate veterans held 24 major reunions together. The fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg attracted 8,000 Confederate and 44,000 Union veterans. It was common practice for both the GAR and the UCV to produce medals, ribbons, and other assorted memorabilia to commemorate reunions and gatherings. These items are considered collector's items today and are much sought after.
At its final national reunion in May, 1951, a commemorative postage stamp, was issued. It was virtually identical to the one printed in 1949 for the last national encampment of the GAR.
In 1896, a successor organization, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) was formed by sons of UCV members for descendants of Confederate veterans. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is the equivalent organization for the descendants of Union soldiers. Both organizations still exist today.
An organization for female descendants of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy was also formed. Later, Tennessee UCV members formed an offset group, the Association of Confederate Soldiers, to raise funds for and administer veterans homes and cemeteries in that state.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Grand Army of the Republic
- Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
- Sons of Confederate Veterans
- Military Order of the Stars and Bars
- United Daughters of the Confederacy