Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Sons of Confederate Veterans

I had a blast from the past a couple days ago.

I got a call from Pat, an old friend from about 15 years ago. He and I were members of the same Sons of Confederate Veterans camp when we lived in Pennsylvania. Pat was a teacher and did a stint working in law enforcement. He is now retired. Unbeknownst to me, Pat had done some traveling in Russia, and has even been farther east than I was last year during my visit to Siberia! He is thinking of moving to Russia to teach English, and I was able to link him up with some of my friends in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

We had a great chat, and it reminded me of the many wonderful friendships and contacts I have made over the years in the SCV. I met Compatriot Nelson Winbush (in the above video) whose grandfather actually rode with General Nathan Bedford Forrest. I met one of the last living Confederate widows, and one of the last living Union widows (whose husband was a freed slave). I met a lady whose father saw the body of Jesse James shortly after he was shot. I met "real sons" whose fathers were Confederate soldiers - a link in our history that is quickly dying off. I met compatriots from every walk of life, men of every ethnic background, men from every religion and political stripe who are united in their desire to honor their ancestors who fought for the Confederate military forces in the War for Southern Independence of 1861-1865.

My own ancestors in the 25th Virginia Infantry were prisoners of war at the notorious Point Lookout prison in swampy Maryland - which was more like a concentration camp than anything else. One of my uncles (Richard J. McLaughlin) died a POW at the age of 23 - yet still a veteran of nearly every major engagement of the Army of Northern Virginia - being wounded and twice captured.  He died of pneumonia because he was treated in a tent, while a world-class hospital (for Union soldiers) was literally yards away from where he was allowed to die.  His brother (James B. McLaughlin) survived Point Lookout and was sent to the equally inhumane and horrific Elmira prison in cold upstate New York.  He survived and lived to be 97 years old.

Ironically, I was much more active in the SCV when I lived in Pennsylvania. I served as a camp commander for two terms of the J.E.B. Stuart Camp 1506, which I helped become an active camp. I briefly served as the founding commander of the fledgling W. Baxter Perkinson Camp 1926 as well. Today, Pennsylvania has a Division within the SCV organization - which was founded in 1896 as an auxiliary to the veterans' organization, the United Confederate Veterans (see this great New Orleans UCV connection!). There is no local camp of the SCV in Gretna - although even if there was, I would not likely have the time to be very active. We have a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Gretna, and at least two of my parishioners are members, as are several prominent ladies from Gretna. I have been invited to attend meetings, and even to give a presentation, but alas, the UDC meets on the same day as the David Crockett Fire Company No. 1, whom I serve as chaplain (which, interestingly, formed a Confederate militia unit at the beginning of the war!). In spite of not being very active in the Sons, I still hold membership and receive the outstanding Confederate Veteran magazine.

 It was great to hear from you, Pat!  Deo vindice!

1 comment:

Fr. Jay Watson said...

Great post and great YouTube clip Father Beane, Thanks!
I've wanted to join the SCV or the Order of the Stars and Bars for some time, but being a Minnesotan, and knowing that if any of my French, English, Czech, ancestors were even there in 1861 and following, they would even then have gone to Canada (good men!) rather than shoot at fellow Americans...I've got no actual historical "cred" to remember or honor... :)