LINCOLNTON, N.C.––Preserving the past and honoring one’s ancestors are mighty important things.
And since 1896, that’s just what the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization has done. A heritage-based historical honor society, the SCV seeks to educate the public about the true history of the South and the War Between the States. It awards countless scholarships to young people; cleans gravestones and monuments and maintains historic cemeteries; adopts highways in roadside cleaning projects; performs historical re-enactment events open to the public; makes educational presentations to schools; and much more.
The group is one of the few remaining blood-based organizations in the world. That is, in the case of the SCV, membership is open to any male descendant of an honorably discharged Confederate veteran––white, black, Amerindian, Asian or Mexican. The SCV is international, with chapters throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Latin America.
Most folks probably don’t realize the international connections the South enjoyed in those tumultuous times of 1861 to 1865. Many foreigners, such as the famous German soldier, Heros von Borcke, fought for the South. The saintly Emperor Maximilian contributed Mexican troops to the Southern Cause. And most blockade-runners, many based in Wilmington, were actually British vessels, captained and crewed by seamen of the Royal Navy.
Another interesting historical footnote is the story of los Confederados. Rather than live under Northern domination, thousands of Confederate men, women and children fled to Latin America, especially Brazil. Groups of their descendants meet to this day. And though they may now speak Spanish or Portuguese, the strains of “Dixie” are unmistakable.
Heritage, not hatred
Not descended from a Confederate veteran? No problem. You can become an honorary member of the SCV and enjoy the same benefits of fellowship, education, interesting guest speakers, programs and more.
Yep, the SCV is open to anyone. Except racists and bigots. Simultaneous membership in xenophobic organizations is strictly prohibited by the SCV. This rule is vigorously enforced. Rotten apples must sometimes be purged from the SCV’s orchards.
Many folks forget that freed black men often fought in Confederate forces, and thus in the SCV there are indeed black members. Famous examples include retired school principal Nate Winbush and former Asheville NAACP chapter president H.K. Edgerton, well known for his educational presentations at re-enactments and other events.
And here in Lincoln County since 1993, there is the local chapter––No. 1616––of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, named for two men from the same illustrious family: Gen. Robert Hoke and Col. William Hoke, both of Lincolnton. The former was well known for his battlefield prowess during the War Between the States. He later put the war behind him and married a lady from New York City. Gen. Hoke famously owned the Lithia Springs Inn, a well-known resort just outside of Lincolnton, amongst other business endeavors. The latter was a colonel in the 38th North Carolina Infantry, 1862-64. He was also a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg.
In honor of their ancestors’ military exploits, SCV chapters are called “camps” and their leaders, “commanders.” Zakk Phillips is the commander of the Hoke Camp. Phillips recently told The Herald more about his group.
“We have a guest speaker come to every monthly meeting to give an historical presentation on a number of different topics related to the War of Northern Aggression,” he said. “The Aug. 13 meeting will have Michael C. Hardy, and he will be discussing one of his many books on the war.
“We have a monthly cemetery clean-up during the spring and summer, as well as a quarterly roadside clean-up,” he added, “both in the western part of the county. We also participate in various events throughout the county, including festivals and parades.”
Phillips informed that the minimum age for full SCV membership is 12. But there is no minimum limit for cadet membership. You do need documented genealogical proof of either direct or collateral descent (respectively, a great-great-grandfather, for example, or a great-great-granduncle or cousin) from an honorably serving Confederate soldier or seaman. An applicant may submit an application form, along with a detailed genealogy that describes his relationship to the veteran and proof of his service.
“We have a camp research officer who is dedicated to helping prospective members with any and all research,” said Phillips.
He spoke further about the group’s history, including its founding in Richmond, 123 years ago.
“The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers,” he said, adding, “The SCV continues to serve as an historical, patriotic and non-political organization, dedicated to ensuring that a true history of the period of 1861-65 is preserved.”
Many SCV wives help their husbands in camp-related endeavors. And there is a ladies’ organization that works directly with the SCV: the Order of the Confederate Rose.
“It is open to any interested female,” said Phillips. “They must fill out an application and have an SCV member’s recommendation.
“Our organization is open to everyone with Confederate lineage,” he added. “We take pride in teaching and learning the history of our ancestors and the struggles and triumphs they went through.”
The Hoke Camp of the SCV meets monthly on the second Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Cultural Center at 403 E. Main St. in Lincolnton.
To learn more, consult the Websites at www.scv.org and www.ncscv.org or e-mail Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RFHokeWmJHoke/
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