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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SONS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR. In 1866, Union Veterans of the CIVIL WAR organized into the GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC (G. A. R.) and became a social and political force. Membership in the veterans' organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956.

In 1881 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership, but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as Associates. This practice continues today.

Many GAR Posts sponsored Camps of the SV. In 1922 at the request of the Sons of Veterans, the Grand Army approved a proposal that changed the SV name to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) as being more descriptive of its membership. (1) It was under this name that its federal charter was issued in 1954. The SUVCW is legally recognized as the heir to, and representative of, the GAR.

Following the naming of Highway 6 to become the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War sponsored the construction of six parks. The first was to be at the junction of the Grand Army Highway and Highway 38 east of Iowa City. (2)

Today, the National Organization of the SUVCW, headed by an annually elected Commander-in-Chief, oversees the operation of 26 Departments, each consisting of one or more states, a Department-at-Large, a National Membership-at-Large, and over 200 community based Camps. More than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only male organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR -- Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. It publishes "The BANNER" quarterly for its members. The SUVCW National Headquarters is located in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The SUVCW is one of five Allied Orders of the GAR. The other four Orders are: Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Cemetery marker of Frank L. Quade, the last veteran of the Civil War to die in Dubuque County. White metal marker placed by the SONS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR.

In 2017 the historic question of why the Civil War was fought continued to divide the nation. The Northern view was that the struggle was to save the Union and end slavery. The Southern viewpoint has been summarized as a crusade to limit federal power with slavery playing a smaller role. For years following the Civil War, former combatants met to recall the battles. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War have suggested a dialogue to "hold different opinions and share share different opinions." The removal of Confederate memorials and incidents like those in Charlottesville, Virginia make having that dialogue much more difficult (3)

In 2020 male residents of Dubuque could join nearby "camps" of the organization. One of these was the Robert Mitchell Camp #206 in Marion, Iowa. This camp undertook the task in 2020 of determining the GPS coordinates of graves of Union veterans. This information was added to the entry of the person found in the website--Find-A-Grave. In instances where no entry had been established, one was created.

Telegraph Herald, July 22, 1915. Image courtesy: Diane Harris


1. "G.A.R. Renounces Herrin Murderers," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 29, 1922, p. 12

2. "Roadside Park on GAR Itinerary Gets Highway Body OK," Telegraph-Herald, December 5, 1955, p. 4

3. Reeves, Jay and Felicia Fonseca, "150 Years Later, U.S. Still Fighting," Telegraph Herald, September 6, 2017, p. 29

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War website: http://www.encyclopediadubuque.org/index.php?title=SONS_OF_UNION_VETERANS_OF_THE_CIVIL_WAR&action=edit