Sons of Confederate Veterans
John B. Gordon Camp 46
SCV Camp 46
MOSB Chapter 88
My Dear Sir - your letter of this date advising me of the organization of a camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans which is to bear my name is received.
Please convey to the members of your Camp the expression of my appreciation of the compliment paid me by their actions, and of the assurance I feel that their future will be worthy of their brave and patriotic fathers. With the hope that the example you have set in thus organizing will be followed by the sons of veterans all over the State and the country, and again thanking you, I am,
After the close of the War Between the States, the surviving veterans on both sides formed associations to help commemorate those who perished and to promote unity among Americans. The Union veterans formed the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the Confederate veterans formed the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).
These two organizations enjoyed good relations, even holding joint reunions on more than one occasion and honoring their respective flags. The UCV benefited from the leadership of its Commander-for-life, Major General John B. Gordon of Atlanta, a beloved and respected military leader who was in command of a third of Lee's army at war's end. After serving as Governor and Life-Commander of the UCV, General Gordon passed away in 1903 leaving command of the UCV to his war time junior officer, General Clement A. Evans of Atlanta. Thus command of the UCV was held by Atlantans for many years and these gentlemen were partly responsible for the continuing good relations by the GAR and the UCV. They are both at rest in Atlanta's historic Oakland Cemetery.
By the mid 1890's it became clear that the aging veterans could not continue to carry on the commemorative activities and educational activities without help. There were discussions at the 1895 reunion concerning the need to bring the sons into the organization to carry on the functions of the UCV. A letter was sent out by some sons in Richmond to various UCV camps in 1895 asking that each send a group of sons to the 1896 reunion to be held in Richmond. The call was well heard as there were delegations from throughout the Confederation in attendance. Two from Georgia were there: one from Macon and a smaller one from the Atlanta area.
At the first reunion attended by these sons it was agreed that an organization would be formed and would be called the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). It would require the signing of ten members, so charters were issued to those with that number or more in attendance. Only the delegation from Macon was able to gain a charter in 1896 and the delegation was under the leadership of Dr. John L. Hardeman who would also serve later as the first commander of the Georgia Division. This camp was named Thomas Hardeman Camp No. 18 (since named the Edward Dorr Tracy Camp No. 18) and was chartered in 1896. There were 36 camps chartered at the first reunion.
Atlanta was represented at the first reunion by a small delegation lead by an Atlanta attorney named Thomas R. R. Cobb, II a grandson of Confederate Senator and General Howell Cobb. He was accompanied at the reunion by Walter Terry Colquitt, also of Atlanta and the son of Confederate General Alfred Holt Colquitt. They did not have the required ten members at the reunion but at the second reunion they were chartered the John B. Gordon Camp No. 46. The date was June, 1897.
The official magazine of the UCV , The Confederate Veteran, (since becoming the official voice of the SCV) carried several articles pertaining to the founding of the Gordon Camp. These revealed that General Clement A. Evans was instrumental in the organization of the camp and was most likely behind the naming of this Atlanta organization. A letter was sent to the camp by General Gordon himself expressing his thanks for the honor. The letter has now been lost but for many years it was read each year at the anniversary of the General's death.
Charter members of the camp were Thomas R. R. Cobb, II (Commander); John Hynds (Adjutant); Walter Terry Colquitt; Alexander Stephens, II; Clark Howell; William F. Parkhurst; W.W. Davies; Eb. T. Williams; L.D. Teackle Quinby; H.N. Randolph and Walker Kirkpatrick. The camp's sponsors were Brigadier General Clement A. Evans, Commander, Georgia Brigade, Gordon's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, CSA and Robert A. Smyth, Second Commander-in-Chief, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
While Gordon Camp has rarely had more than 100 members at any one time, it is ending its first century on the upswing. Its first peak was in 1924 when 108 were shown as members. In 1988 a new peak was reached at 150. The camp continues to grow.
Continuity is another hallmark of the camp. The records indicate that monthly meetings have been held since 1896 with a very long list of dignitaries hosted as speakers. Governors, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, historians, university professors and many other celebrities have been featured as speakers throughout the camp's entire history.
Nothing, however, speaks for the camp better than the quality of its members. In this respect "Old 46" is unequalled. We have had six Commanders-in-Chief of the Confederation; Appeals Court Justice Honorable Walter Terry Colquitt; Nathan Bedford Forrest, III; Rev John Ashley Johnes; McWhorter Milner; Letcher O. Grice; and Dr. James W. Edwards. We have also had the rare honor of having one of the only Commanders-in-Chief-for-life which is an infrequently given honorarium that was bestowed on the late Dr. Clyde A. Boynton for his enormous contribution to the Confederation.
We have had within our membership eight Governors of Georgia: Hon. John W. Slayton (the well known Governor who gave a pardon to Leo Frank in the celebrated court case); Hon. Hugh Dorsey; Hon Richard B. Russell (also served many years in the U.S. Senate); Hon. Ellis G. Arnall; Hon. Herman E. Talmadge (also served many years in the U.S. Senate); Hon. S. Marvin Griffin; Hon. S. Ernest Vandiver, Jr.; and Hon. Lester Maddox. Since 1911 "Old 46" has not been without a living Governor on its active rolls.
There has been a proportionate number of other powerful officials who saw fit to register their membership over the years, such as Hon. James C. Davis, member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Hon. Isaac N. Ragsdale, Hon John T. Glenn, and Hon. James L. Key, as well, all Mayors of Atlanta; Hon. Walter Terry Colquitt and Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, III, Justices of the Georgia Court of Appeals (the latter being the nephew of the Vice President of the Confederacy); Hon. John D. Humphries; Hon. Charles Wofford and Hon. Durwood T. Pye, Judges of the Superior Court, Atlanta Circuit; Hon. Ben Blackburn; Hon. T.B. Felder; Hon. Walter P. Andrews and Hon. Charlie Brown, members of the Georgia House of Representatives; Hon. Clark Howell, Hon. Charlie Brown and Hon. Everett Millican, members of the Georgia Senate (Compatriot Howell was also publisher of the Atlanta Constitution). There have also been many city and county officials as well as many prominent Atlanta families such as Candler, Rhodes, Howell and Haas.
In military leaders we have been very well blessed with such members as Rear Admiral Hugh Howell, Jr., one of the most decorated warriors of World War II, and Brigadier General Letcher O. Grice, who served in World Wars I and II and in the Korean War. We now have General John Morrison, General Harold Dye and as honorary members we now have Major General Robert Forbes, past Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To mention those of the rank of Colonel on down would create a very interesting and lengthy book. There are many.
In the arts we have also left our mark. Former Atlanta Historian and well known artist Wilber Kurtz held active membership even while working on the diorama at the Cyclorama. Major Willis Fellows, known for his fine protrat of Robert E. Lee, which today hangs at Stone Mountain, was a member for many years.
But beyond the prominence of the members and the importance of the purpose, the most significance is in the activities of the camp. In this respect "Old 46" has done many things. The most important was the establishment and care of the Soldiers Home near Atlanta in the first decade of the century. The veterans were taken care of quite well until they were no more.
There were also many monuments and commemorative events over the years. There was the statue of General Gordon on the State Capitol Grounds done by the Borglum Brothers who completed Mount Rushmore and later helped the camp and the UDC in the most monumental of all projects, Stone Mountain. Lesser projects were too numerous to mention but evidence of them can be seen throughout the Atlanta area.