Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Union Defender October 2009



Springfield, Missouri, October 2009


Members discussed future camp projects, including another battle monument (perhaps one in southwest Missouri), restoration of an original Greene County, Missouri G.A.R. flag, and a memorial to St. Joseph resident and Battle of Shiloh hero Colonel Everett Peabody. A final decision on the next Phelps Camp fundraising project will be made soon.

Members discussed the new camp blog site (see address above), where members can go for the latest information about the camp, plus photographs of recent camp activities and some great historical information relating to the Phelps family, the G.A.R. and other Civil War topics.


Phelps Camp was represented at the Civil War Round Table of the Ozarks Conference at the Clarion Hotel in Springfield on Saturday, October 10. Camp members manned a table, handing
out free literature and selling copies of the Chronicles and GAR book.


Several members of Phelps Camp attended a wonderful monument dedication ceremony at Cave Springs, near Sarcoxie, Missouri, on Saturday, October 3. A large, impressive monument to the members of the 76th Enrolled Missouri Militia and the Union civilians who gave their lives during the Civil War was unveiled before a large crowd. Members of the camp presented a musket firing demonstration and participated in the memorial service at the adjacent cemetery. Camp Commander Wait spoke on behalf of Phelps Camp.
It is a little-known fact that many members of the 76th , along with pro-Union civilians in the area, perished while trying to protect their homes and families against guerrilla bands.
Photos of the monument and the event will be posted soon on our blog site.


The next meeting of Phelps Camp will be on Tuesday, November 3 at 7 p.m. at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Phelps Camp Charter Ceremony

The charter ceremony for Phelps Camp was held in October 1994 in the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center. The event also marked the anniversary of Zagonyi's Charge on October 25, 1861. Led by Major Charles Zagonyi, this daring cavalry charge allowed Union forces to briefly recapture Springfield, Missouri.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to join Phelps Camp

Phelps camp is always anxious to welcome new members. Persons interested in joining the camp are encouraged to attend a monthly meeting. They are held on the first Tuesday of each month in the Visitor Center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Meetings begin at 7 P.M. and here visitors can meet with camp members and learn more about our activities.

Annual dues are $25. New members pay an extra $5 when they join. An associate membership is available for those without an ancestor who served in the Union army or Navy. An application is available on the national web site at

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What is the SUVCW?

If you have an interest in the Civil War, and especially if you have an ancestor who served honorably in the Union Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, you may wish to join the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. This brief introduction to the SUVCW will answer some questions about the organization and how you may join us in honoring your Union ancestor.

The SUVCW is a group directly linked to Civil War Union veterans. It is the only male organization recognized by and representing the Grand Army of the Republic, a powerful veterans group made up of Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps enlisted men and officers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1881, the SUVCW was formed to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and the men who fought to preserve the unity and indivisibility of our nation. We also honor the memory of the wartime president, Abraham Lincoln. The SUVCW was officially incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1954.

The SUVCW has a national organization known as the Commandery-in-Chief and several national officers. Departments exist in many states, with several individual "camps" in most departments. Phelps Camp was recently added to the newly formed Department of Missouri. Other camps exist in Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. Although most potential members join a camp near their home, there is a "Member-at-Large" category for men who reside in states where no camps exist. An annual "National Encampment" is held in various cities around the nation.

To honor the men who preserved the Union during the Civil War, the SUVCW sponsors or participates in a number of activities including:

Ceremonies and programs to commemorate events and honor leaders important to the Civil War and the G.A.R.

Erecting, maintaining, and preserving monuments and plaques marking events and people of the Civil War

Supporting the preservation of battlefield sites

Collecting and preserving artifacts, records, and memorabilia of the G.A.R. and the Union forces

Locating, recording, and marking the graves of Union veterans. Decorating graves on Memorial Day and other occasions

Presenting scholarship awards for Civil War studies

Encouraging research and writing on the period and engaging in other similar activities.

Next time, information on joining Phelps Camp and the SUVCW!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Phelps Camp was formed in 1994, and is actually named for three members of a prominent local family who each made important contributions to the preservation of the Union during the Civil War.

John Smith Phelps was a prominent U.S. congressman before and during the war, who also served as colonel of the "Phelps Regiment, Missouri Infantry," and led that regiment into action at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 7-8, 1862. He later served as military governor of Arkansas, and after the war was elected governor of Missouri.

Mary Whitney Phelps, his wife, safeguarded the body of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon after his death at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861, and helped care for the wounded of her husband's regiment after the Battle of Pea Ridge. Following the war, she established an orphanage in Springfield for the children of Union soldiers.

John Elisha Phelps, their son, fought in the Battles of Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge, and was appointed colonel of the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry (US). He led that unit into action on several battlefields, including Westport and Mine Creek. He was made a brevet brigadier general at the end of the war for his services.