Gen. Stephen D. Lee’s 1906 Address that Contains the SCV Charge

A Series on the Daring Exploits of Our Confederate Ancestors
UCV Medal, Sixteenth Reunion, April 25-27, 1906, New Orleans.
Gen. Stephen D. Lee's 1906 Address
to the UCV that Contains the SCV Charge
Gen. Stephen Dill Lee, Commander-in-Chief, United Confederate Veterans.
Gen. Stephen Dill Lee, Commander-in-Chief, United Confederate Veterans, 1904-1908.

Below is the full text, verbatim, of Gen. Stephen D. Lee's speech as commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans at their Sixteenth National Reunion, April 25-27, 1906 in New Orleans. The speech was delivered that first day, Wednesday, April 25th. This was 41 years after the War Between the States, eight years after the Spanish-American War, and eight years before World War I. Teddy Roosevelt was president. As stated on the Stephen D. Lee Institute website: "Stephen Dill Lee was an exceptional soldier and important leader in the Confederate Army and, after the war, a leading American educator, historian, and commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans...". He was one of the three Confederates who rowed over to Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 in a futile effort to prevent the war. He was a West Point graduate and became the Confederacy's youngest lieutenant general. In this speech, he begins passing the baton from the UCV to the SCV. He died in 1908, two years later.

From "Gen. S. D. Lee's Address at New Orleans," Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol. XIV, No. 6, June, 1906.

Gen. Stephen D. Lee on the left with other Confederate veterans.
Gen. Stephen D. Lee on left. Not sure when or where this photo was taken.

[When the greetings and welcomes of the hospitable New Orleans authorities had been expressed at the opening of the last great U. C. V. Reunion in New Orleans, Gen. Stephen D. Lee, upon taking the chair as presiding officer, said:]

The United Confederate Veterans are again met in the city of their origin. We are once more the guests of those patriotic and energetic men, into whose labors we have entered and to whom the thanks of all surviving Confederates are due.

Again and again we have returned to taste of the inexhaustible bounty of your hospitality, to be refreshed by the patriotism and enthusiasm of this generous and beautiful city.

The flags of France and of Spain, of the Union and of the Confederacy, have floated over the soil upon which we stand; but always over brave men and lovely women, loyal to the best they knew, faithful alike to the living and to the dead; a civilization transplanted like a rare flower of France, blossoming in the New World and bearing exquisite fruit.

The Confederate cannot forget the city of the gallant and accomplished Beauregard, the brave and unfortunate Hood, the city where Jefferson Davis loved to walk, and which honored him in his death with an outpouring of loyalty and grief which did honor to the Southern heart.

Here is Metairie, where Albert Sidney Johnston speaks in imperishable bronze, and the monument to the Army of Northern Virginia rises, tall and white, like the soul of its great chieftain.

We love you, Louisiana, where the stern blood of the Anglo-Saxon has been touched with the grace and the genius of France.

Here amid the very chivalry of patriotism there is welcome for all who prize noble and generous deeds, and most of all a welcome for him who loved his country best and bore her cross of pain--the Confederate soldier.

We who grieved for this unhappy city in the hour of its capture and humiliation rejoice in its pride today--standing second only to New York among American ports of export, your mighty river filled with the ships of all nations, your historic streets alive with the commerce of the world.

We behold with satisfaction great railroad systems struggling to enter your gates and the merchants of a thousand cities listening for the murmurs of your markets.

We wait the coming of the day when the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific shall mingle together, and on both alike shall float the commerce of this imperial city, when the sons of those who struggled in vain for Southern supremacy shall here behold a peaceful victory more magnificent than those of their great armies, a commercial supremacy more splendid than their noblest visions, and here beside the Father of Waters shall be realized the capital of their dreams.

UCV 16th Reunion parade, Canal Street, New Orleans, April 27, 1906.

We have lost dear friends and comrades since we met together, none more beloved and more honored than the soldier who was recently laid to rest at Arlington.

Joe Wheeler won his spurs by true and honorable service. He was a superb cavalry leader, and earned on many a hard-fought field the right to lead where brave men follow.

When the heart of our common country yearned to express to her Confederate sons that their welcome home was complete, to Wheeler it was given to show on our behalf that every star on the flag was now dear to us, and that we were ready to follow it to the very "Isles of the Sea."

It was Southern hands that set star after star in that blue field of glory; and if any more stars are ever planted there, it will be strange if Southerners are not found assisting at the service.

Comrades, there is one thing committed to our care as a peculiar trust--the memory of the Confederate soldier.

So far as lies in our power, we have striven that history many not lack the evidence of his purity of motive, his fortitude, his heroism.

I, for one, do not fear that justice, however long delayed, will not ultimately be done to one of the grandest bodies of men who ever battled for independence or, triumphing over defeat, bound up the bleeding wounds of their country.

Gen. Stephen D. Lee during the War Between the States.
Gen. Stephen D. Lee during the War Between the States.

There are three things peculiarly left for our concern.

One of these is the erection of public monuments to our Confederate dead; not only to our leaders, but, above all, to those private soldiers who made our leaders immortal.

We must not overtask posterity by expecting those who come after us to build monuments to heroes whom their own generations were unwilling to commemorate.

The South has reached a position of material prosperity which justified both State and private beneficence to honor the faithful dead.

In all human lot, there has nothing better been found for man than to die for his country. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, this fate is to be preferred above all others.

We feel it is well with those who have thus fulfilled the highest of all trusts, the duty of a citizen to his native land. Whatever may have been their private faults, their public service on the field of battle has rightly given them a place with the immortals.

Theirs was the martyr's devotion without the martyr's hope.

Their generation and their country imposed upon them this high service. They fulfilled it without flinching. They felt that the issue of the battle was with God; the issue of their duty was with themselves.... [sic]

I urge monuments to the Confederate soldier, first for the sake of the dead, but most for the sake of the living, that in this busy industrial age these stones to the Confederate soldier may stand like great interrogation marks to the soul of each beholder.

Let us pass the remainder of our days in such ways that nothing we shall do will bring shame and regret that we also were Confederate soldiers.

As we shared with them the glory of their sufferings, the fame of their victories, the tragedy of their overthrow, and that sympathy of their countrymen which covered the defeated with a mantle of imperishable love, let us also share as best we may their simplicity of heart, their scorn of all ignoble actions, their dignity of soul, that our descendants may say of us with swelling hearts: "He also followed Johnston; he also fought with Lee."

To this day there stands carved upon the graves of our English ancestors the symbol of the Crusaders. Their names are forgotten, but the cross remains. So let it be with the Confederate soldier!... [sic]

And is there any message we would give to the States we loved and on whose behalf we drew our swords more than a generation ago?

As we have sorrowed over your devotion, we now rejoice in your prosperity.

We chose for you the fortune of war rather than a shameful peace. We battled for your principles rather than yield them, not to conviction but to force. With breaking hearts we bowed beneath the stroke of fate.

We chose the only course worthy of Americans. Better defeat than dishonor; better the long, bitter story of reconstruction than tame surrender of the convictions we received from our fathers, the principles which we cherished as the basis of our liberties.

We leave our motives to the judgment of posterity. In the choice we made we followed the dictates of conscience and the voice of honor.

We sacrificed all that men hold dear for the land of our birth; and, while we have no fear that history will record our deeds with shame, we do not regard even the verdict of posterity as the equivalent of a clear conscience; nor ought we to have been false to our convictions even to win the eternal praises of mankind.

If our children shall praise us, it is well; if our own hearts tell us we have fulfilled our duty, it is better.

Last of all, let us remember our less prosperous comrades. If we can perhaps sweeten the last years of those old men, bring back, maybe, the light of other days in their fading eyes, awake in their hearts the great memories, they will bless us by our receiving more than we are giving.

Many of the States whom they so nobly served are gathering them in soldiers' homes, institutions which combine the beauty of charity with the grace of gratitude. But there are many other old veterans who will never be brought within such hospitable walls and who are left to our personal charge for such sympathy and assistance as are honorable alike to them and to us.

Let each Camp continue its special care for this beneficent labor, and see to it that true comradeship shall cease only when all of us have passed beyond human power to relieve.

To you, Mothers of the Memorial Association, will be given the service of commemorating the soldier's virtues in the hearts of those who come after us by the story of the illustrious dead, of comforting the hearts of those who mourn our lost heroes with such ministrations as bespeak the sympathy of the patriot and the loving-kindness of those who are familiar with the same sorrow.

To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.

Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remember along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?

"Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat."

To you, Daughters of the Confederacy, will be given the loving service of remembering the Confederate dead and of ministering to the living who were dear to him and are in need of your help and tenderness.

Worthy daughters you shall be of the immortal women, your mothers, who gave to womanhood a new perfection of heroism and a more divine expression of sacrifice and devotion.

To you, brave people of the South; to you, true-hearted Americans everywhere; to you, world-conquering race from which we sprung--to all men everywhere who prize in man the manliest deeds, who love in man the love of country, who praise fidelity and courage, who honor self-sacrifice and noble devotion, will be given an incomparable inheritance, the memory of our prince of men, the Confederate soldier.

[At the conclusion of General Lee's address the bright and beautiful young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Madison presented him an exquisite group of flowers.]

About Gen. Stephen D. Lee, by the National Park Service.
Vicksburg National Military Park, Gen. Stephen D. Lee, CSA. Lee was chairman of the park at one time.
Vicksburg National Military Park, statue of Gen. Stephen D. Lee, CSA. Lee was chairman of the park at one time.

(No words or sentences were changed in Gen. Lee's speech but some paragraphs were broken up to make it easier to read online.)

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4 Comments

  1. Good morning Gene,

    I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to let you know that the “Charge” from General Stephen D. Lee that was published in the June 1906 CV is incorrect as well as parts of his speech that was published. I have the speech for 1906 that was published in the 1906 UCV Minutes but it is on my other laptop and will be glad to send you it when I can if you like. Below is what Chuck Rand put together a few tears ago that was printed in the CV. I hope this helps

    THE CHARGE REVISITED

    During the last few years the issue of the exact text of “The Charge” given to the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been the subject of debate within some circles in the SCV. This issue was first addressed by then Historian In Chief Charles Kelly Barrow in the November/December 2003 issue of the Confederate Veteran resulting in a number of letters to the editor on the subject. I, in my role of Historian In Chief, have been conducting further research into this issue. In this article I will present a synopsis of the earlier information presented, the new evidence that has been found and will give my conclusions to what the exact text of The Charge is based on the evidence.

    DEFINITION OF THE QUESTION

    As a starting point I will present the opposing opinions as to what is the exact statement of “The Charge” of Gen. S. D. Lee.

    It appears there are three versions of The Charge in common use. The first, which I will call the Minutes Charge, is that which is contained in the Minutes of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting and Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans Held in the City of New Orleans, LA. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday April 25th, 26th, and 27th.

    The second version, which I will call the Magazine Charge, is that which is printed in the Confederate Veteran magazine of June 1906 and the third I will designate as the History Charge. The three versions are given below:

    The Minutes Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish.”

    This is the entire paragraph pertaining to the Sons of Confederate Veterans from the speech of Gen. S. D. Lee as taken from the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans pages 30-35. The paragraph previous to that quoted above is a charge to the Memorial Association and the paragraph following is a charge to the Daughters of the Confederacy. The entire speech, as taken from the minutes, was reproduced in Historian Barrow’s article in November/December 2003 issue of the Confederate Magazine. In the interests of space it will not be reproduced in its entirety here but I urge anyone interested in this topic to read the entire speech as printed in the Confederate Veteran cited above.

    The Magazine Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?”

    “Not in the clamor of the crowded street.”

    “Not in the shouts of and plaudits of the throng,”

    “But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.”

    This comes from the June 1906 Confederate Veteran pages 245-255 where the magazine version of Gen. Lee’s speech is printed.

    The History Charge -“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish. Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations”.

    As you can see each version in common use today is similar and is comprised of the Minutes Charge with a different ending added after the word cherish.

    I have found no document contemporary to the 1906 United Confederate Veterans (UCV) or the United Sons of Confederate Veterans (USCV) reunions that contains the History Charge. Since there appears to be no document that ties the History Charge to the 1906 Reunion of UCV or USCV it will be dismissed as a contender for being the “True Charge”. If any evidence that ties the History Charge to the 1906 Reunion is found, the dismissal of the History Charge will be reconsidered.

    At this point we have the Minutes Charge and the Magazine Charge as the two choices for the “True Charge”. In his earlier article on this subject Historian In Chief Barrow concluded that The Charge as given by the UCV Minutes for their 1906 reunion was the authoritative version of the Charge. This conclusion is based on the minutes being a primary source and that the minutes represent the official record of the proceedings of the UCV.

    THE PREVIOUS DEBATE

    Historian Barrow’s conclusion was disputed in a letter to the editor (January/February 2004 Confederate Veteran pages 6-7) by Compatriot Kevin Spargur, a proponent of the Magazine Charge, who took issue with the UCV Minutes being used as authoritative exclusive to other primary sources. Compatriot Spargur stated that the Confederate Veteran is also a primary source and “became the official voice and organ for the rank and file membership”. On this basis, in part, he concluded the Magazine Version of the Charge is the correct version.

    Historian Barrow pointed out in a rebuttal to Compatriot Spargur’s letter (Confederate Veteran March/April 2004 edition pages 58-59) that other primary sources exist that support the Minutes Charge. These other primary sources being two New Orleans newspapers, The Daily Picayune and The Daily States, that printed the text of Gen. Lee’s speech during the 1906 reunion (along with other information about the Reunion). The speech, as printed by these newspapers, corresponds word for word to that given in the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans.

    Compatriot Spargur is correct when he says the June 1906 Confederate Veteran states that it speaks for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    The 1906 Confederate Veteran says that it:

    “OFFICIALLY REPRESENTS:

    United Confederate Veterans

    United Daughters of the Confederacy

    Sons of Veterans and Other Organizations

    Confederated Southern Memorial Association”

    Compatriot Spargur also disputed Historian Barrow’s conclusion that the Minutes Charge is the correct charge based on the statement in Historian Barrow’s article that the Sons were not present when Gen. Lee gave his speech and did not enter the room where the UCV was assembled until the speech was concluded. On this point the 1906 UCV Minutes state on pages 34 and 35:

    “In the meantime the Sons had arrived. They remained outside until the conclusion of General Lee’s address, and then marched in, Commander Thomas McA. Owen of Montgomery, Ala. In the lead, headed by a band. Each officer was accompanied by a beautiful young lady, a sponsor or maid, and their appearance was the signal for the greatest enthusiasm yet manifested in the Convention. The younger generation should feel proud of the tender sentiments manifested toward them by their sires. When the band played “See the Conquering Hero Comes” the old veterans went wild in their enthusiasm and applause.”

    “When the officers had found place upon the platform, General Lee made a few remarks, in which he paid a handsome tribute to their loyalty to the Lost Cause, and said they were in every way worthy to carry on the historical campaign when the older men were all gone.”

    “Commander Owen was then presented to the assemblage, and was given a most enthusiastic greeting, when he responded to the address of welcome. He spoke briefly and extemporaneously, but there was the fire of eloquence and feeling in what he said, and it evoked the greatest enthusiasm. He spoke of the work which the Sons had undertaken and pledged them to carry it forward and hand down the burden to posterity, so that the descendants of those who fought the valiant fight for the Lost Cause would look upon them in their true light, as men who fought for principal and for the Constitution of the United States, and not as rebels.”

    From the above we can see that the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans reunion state that the Sons were not in the hall when Gen. Lee gave his speech.

    NEW EVIDENCE FOUND

    Further research has been conducted by consulting a recently obtained original copy of the Minutes of the Eleventh Annual Reunion of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans in the City of New Orleans, LA. April 25, 26, 27, 1906. These minutes state the following on pages 58 and 59:

    “Recess for Joint Session with the Veterans”

    “The hour having arrived for the convention to attend the Veterans in their hall for a brief joint session, the meeting was declared in recess for that purpose. A committee from Camp Beauregard had in the meantime arrived to advise that the Veterans were in waiting. A procession was promptly formed, and, preceded by a band, the entire convention marched to the Auditorium. The company extended for more than four blocks and presented a thrilling and brilliant spectacle. On arriving Gen. Stephen D. Lee was engaged in the delivery of his address, in consequence of which a short delay in entering was necessitated. As General Lee closed the signal was given, and, in the midst of rousing cheers and to the strains of stirring music the Sons marched to the platform and to seats assigned them. General Lee, trembling with emotion, extended his hand to the Commander-In-Chief of the Sons, and repeated that paragraph of his speech which related to them. The response to this greeting was to have been delivered by Dr. Clarence J. Owens of Alabama, but he was unable to be present owing to a delayed train. The Commander-In-Chief, Dr. Thomas M. Owen, therefore responded, pledging the earnest, continuous and faithful loyalty of the Sons to the principals and motives for which the fathers had fought from 1861 to 1865.”(emphasis added). We can see that the minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans from the 1906 Reunion confirm the information in the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans that the Sons were not in the auditorium when Gen. Lee gave his entire speech, but were waiting for its conclusion before they entered the UCV meeting.

    However, the minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans expand on this point stating that Gen. Lee repeated for the Sons the “paragraph of his speech which related to them” when the Sons entered the UCV meeting room. One must conclude that the “paragraph” denotes the one which begins with “To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans…” as this is the paragraph in the speech most directly referring to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    However, this raises a question: Which version of the Charge – the Minutes or Magazine version – do the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans print as being the charge given to the Sons by Gen. S. D. Lee?

    The 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans prints, on the 4th page, the following:

    “Commission to the Sons.

    To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate Soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principals which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.

    Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-in-Chief U.C.V., at the Reunion in New Orleans, La., April 25, 1906.”

    The above commission matches the Minutes Charge word for word and provides the citation that it was from the speech of Gen. Lee given at the 1906 U.C.V. Reunion. We now have the same charge given in both the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans and the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    It is noteworthy that the “Commission” is the only item on the page where it appears in the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans and is at the beginning of the minute book – evidently showing that the United Sons of Confederate Veterans considered it to be an important statement to give it such prominent and solitary placing.

    From the above we see that the 1906 minutes of both the UCV and the USCV support the assertion that the Minutes Charge is the charge give by Gen. Lee and that, while the Sons were not in the room for the entire speech, The Charge or the Commission was repeated for them by Gen. Lee once the Sons arrived and entered the UCV meeting.

    THE AUTHORITY OF MINUTES

    Research on how minutes are legally regarded as compared to other documents has been conducted by Judge Advocate in Chief Burl McCoy. JAG McCoy found in the Federal Rules of Evidence that minutes are considered to have a higher degree of reliability than other documents relating to the actions of an organization as they are considered to be an “original writing” and are thus taken to be more authoritative than other sources such as magazine articles, news paper accounts and other documents.

    Parliamentarian in Chief Jesse Binnall stated that the minutes of an organization are the official record of the actions and proceedings of the organization and are thus more authoritative than any other document which may describe the actions or proceedings in a convention or meeting where minutes are taken.

    From the information above we can see that from a parliamentary and legal stand point the minutes of the UCV and USCV are the most authoritative sources we have available and should be given the most weight compared to other sources in judging what version of The Charge should be considered to have been given by Gen. S.D. Lee at the 1906 UCV Convention.

    We should also note that Gen. S. D. Lee was not simply a speaker at the UCV convention. He was the sitting Commander In Chief of the United Confederate Veterans and the minutes that were published after the 1906 UCV Convention were done so under his authority and direction as evidenced by his name appearing on the cover of the 1906 UCV Convention minutes. It seems very unlikely that Gen. S. D. Lee would publish comments under his name that he did not believe to be accurate.

    ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

    During the last year the SCV has made an effort to begin cataloguing the SCV documents that are housed at the Mississippi State Archives in Jackson. As part of this effort, and during the course of finding other SCV records, additional documents using the Minutes Charge have been uncovered. These are:

    The Henry D. Clayton Camp No. 432 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Birmingham, AL. reproduces the Minutes Charge on the application. The interior of the application shows that it was made to be used between the years 1910 and 1919 by the way the applicant it asked to fill out the last digit in the date which is given as 191_ .

    The Year Book and Minutes of the Thirty-First Annual Convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the CITY OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA May 180-21, 1926 has on its cover the “Commission To The Sons” – the Minutes Charge – with the citation Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., April 25, 1906.

    In a similar manner the Year Book and Minutes of the Thirty Second Annual Convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans In the City of Tampa, Florida April 5-8, 1927 has the “Commission to the Sons” and citation identical to that of the 1926 minute book.

    In 1951 the Sons of Confederate Veterans published an informational brochure about the purpose and work of the SCV and in that brochure the Minutes Charge is printed with the citation Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., 1906.

    The Program of the Sixty First Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans held in Norfolk, Virginia May 30-June 3, 1951 (the final UCV Reunion) contains on page 14 the Minutes Version of The Charge with the citation – Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief, U.C.V., 1906. The use of the Minutes Charge in this program is especially significant in that this was known, when the reunion was planned by the SCV, that this would be the final reunion of the United Confederate Veterans. One would expect that under these circumstances the SCV to take special care that The Charge used would be the most correct version of The Charge they knew. The Minutes Charge is what is printed in the program. It should be noted that the documents listed above constitute, essentially, a random sample of the documents found at the archives in Jackson, MS and other locations. What is interesting and important to note in regard to defining what the SCV has historically used as The Charge is that all these documents use the Minutes Charge and NO instances of the use of Magazine version of The Charge was found. These supporting documents date from 1910 to 1951.

    One other item of minor note is that the word “commit” has been changed to “submit” in the supporting documents. This is likely the result of a typo that has been repeated over the years. However the use of “commit” or “submit” has not been the subject of dispute. Both the Minutes Charge and the Magazine Charge use the word “commit”.

    CONCLUSIONS

    There are strong opinions among some members of the SCV about what exact text of The Charge given by General S.D. Lee is. Some firmly believe it as given in the Confederate Veteran magazine in June of 1906. Others believe it is that version ending with “Remember it is your duty to see that the True History of the South is presented to future generations.” Others hold to the version of The Charge in the 1906 UCV Minutes. However, regardless of what version of The Charge we may find more appealing, we owe it to ourselves, as members of an organization dedicated to the preservation of history, to resolve the question of what version of The Charge was given by General S. D. Lee at the 1906 Reunion.

    While I personally like the poetry of the Magazine Charge and the clear directive as to what our duty is as given in the History Charge, I am lead to the conclusion that The Charge as found in the 1906 UCV and 1906 USCV minutes is the actual Charge spoken to the Sons by Gen. S. D. Lee at the 1906 reunion of the United Confederate Veterans. This conclusion is based on the fact that minutes are the most authoritative source concerning the proceedings of an organization, that the two sets of minutes are consistent with and support one another, that there are other primary sources (the newspapers) that reported The Charge as given in the minutes and that there are a number of supporting documents that have been found also using the Minutes Charge. On this basis I conclude that the “True Charge” is:

    “To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be give the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved, and which you also cherish, and those ideals which made him glorious, and which you also cherish.” – Gen S. D. Lee, Commander-In-Chief U.C.V., April 25, 1906.
    Deo Vindice!
    Charles Kelly Barrow
    73rd Past Commander-in-Chief 2014-2016
    Sons of Confederate Veterans
    @scvcic
    http://www.scv.org

    • Kelly,

      Thanks so much for writing! Hope all is well with you and yours. I remember meeting you on Stone Mountain years ago with Charles Lunsford and Rusty Hamby. I am Facebook friends with Charles. Hope all is well with them too!

      I will do a blog post and bring all this out. I agree completely that the Minutes version is the true Charge. To me, it is conclusive since the UCV and USCV Minutes match, and, as you point out, the USCV Minutes referred to the Charge as a “Commission to the Sons.”

      Also, the fact that the Minutes Version was used all the way through the last UCV reunion in 1951, makes it, indisputably, the correct version.

      It would be interesting to me to find out when the History version began. That’s the only version I had ever known, though I had read S. D. Lee’s speech in the 1906 Confederate Veteran years ago. I just figured there was some reason the SCV changed it to include “Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations.”

      Somebody, most likely, was inspired by Robert E. Lee’s “duty the most sublime word in the English language” sentiment. Also, the Centennial of the War Between the States might have inspired it.

      Thanks so much for writing! I’ll post everything you have sent me. It was an interesting debate and some excellent research done in the process.

      Gene

  2. Dear Gene,
    What a great, moving and heart-warming speech.
    Having read this, how can any of us, as Southerners, indeed as Americans, fail “our prince of men – the Confederate soldier” ?
    You have done a real service to us all by giving us the full text.
    Carry on!
    Chris McLarren

    • Chris,

      Thanks so much for writing!

      Yes, I loved that speech and am glad to know there was a debate on the official version of the SCV Charge as Kelly Barrow points out here in the comments. I’ll get a copy of the speech from Kelly, per the UCV Minutes, and post it.

      Deo Vindice!

      Gene

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