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contact our Junior Vice Department Commander

Michael W. Carr, PDC 

P.O. Box 42

Carson, Iowa 51525 


      Greetings from the         Deptartment of Iowa's       Junior Vice Commander. I would like to extend a welcome to those of you who wish to join our Order, or those who merely seek information.  My job is to assist you in finding you a camp to join.  Or, better yet, getting you to start a NEW camp.  To join a camp, merely contact a member of the camp you wish to join, or if you don't know who to contact, contact me and I'll get you set up.  If there's no camp nearby, you can start a new camp with as few as FIVE members. In such a case, all should have lineage to a Civil War veteran.  You do not have to have a Civil War ancestor to join a camp. If you do want to start a camp, I can pass on your request to our Camp Organizer.  We will do all we can to assist you.  You can contact me by phone at   (712) 484-3647, by email at or by  mail at P.O. Box 42, Carson, Iowa  51525.  I look forward to hearing from you.





Ron Deal


General Order    No. 11


Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868


I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.


We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms.


We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.


If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack and other hearts cold in the solemn trust,

ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.


II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.


III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.


By command of:
JOHN A. LOGAN                                          N. P. CHIPMAN

Commander-in-Chief                                       Adjutant-General


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


"Memorial Day is the choicest in the calendar of the Grand Army -

a day of sweet remembrance,

dear to every loyal heart,

and any violation of its sacredness

by making it the occasion for frivolity and amusement,

such as characterize the Fourth of July,

should be treated as an indignity

to the Comrades who died

  that this country might live."


                                                                                          John S. Kountz


                                                                                             Grand Army of the Republic


Spring 2018




       The Union army, during the Civil War, was made up of approximately 25% immigrant soldiers. This was significantly greater than the percentage of immigrants in the general population of the U.S. The question, then, is why were their so many immigrants who volunteered to fight for the Union cause? The immigrant soldiers who stood shoulder to shoulder with those who were born in the U.S. came from many different countries: Germany, Ireland, Scotland, England, Italy, and others. Why would these foreign-born soldiers be willing to shed their blood and lay down their lives for a country that they were relative newcomers to? It was, at least in part, because these brave young men were passionate about the cause for which the Union stood. A statement from the mother of one of these German immigrant soldiers helps us to understand this: “I am from Germany where my brothers all fought against the Government and tried to make us free, but were unsuccessful, we foreigners know the preciousness of that great, noble gift (freedom) a great deal better than you, because you never were in slavery, but we were born in it.” In a letter that a German born soldier wrote to his family, he said “It isn’t a war where two powers fight to win a piece of land, instead it’s about freedom or slavery, and you can well imagine, dear mother, I support the cause of freedom with all my might.” In 1861 an American diplomat in Turin, Italy observed hundreds of young men lined up in the street. This was not an unusual sight as Italy had just achieved unification and it was common for such a crowd to gather and shout “l’ Italia Unita” (Italy United). The difference here is that now they were shouting “l’ America Unita”. These young men were lined up to volunteer to fight for the Union cause.
       The American Civil War, then, was more than just a struggle between citizens of a single nation. Our fight, our cause, was a contest between ideologies which are shared by citizens of nearly every country. The passion for defending the precepts of freedom, equal opportunity, and democratic self-government rings loud and clear throughout many nations. The evidence of this is sealed by the blood of those who came to our country, put themselves in harm’s way, and laid down their lives for a cause which was so dear to their hearts.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty

Ron Deal Patriotic Instructor Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Winter 2017



       There are two basic ways for nations to build a military force. Conscripted (aristocratic) armies or volunteer (democratic) armies. There are significant differences between the two types of military forces. Countries that depend on conscription generally have a larger standing army at any given point in time. These armies are traditionally stronger at the beginning of a war and become weaker as the conflict wears on. The volunteer army, on the other hand, is generally at its least potent at the beginning of a war and becomes stronger throughout the course of the conflict. The fundamental difference between the two is patriotism. The volunteer army is generally made up of citizen soldiers. People who, until the beginning of hostilities, were civilians with little or no military training or background. A conscripted army, on the other hand, depends those who have been compelled to serve and have a significant amount of military training. This is why a standing, conscripted, army may have an advantage at the beginning of a military conflict. This is evidenced by the comparison between the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War. At the beginning of the war the union army was somewhat depleted and needed time to build. As patriotic fervor swelled during the course of the Civil War, so did the size of the Union army. Conversely, the Confederate army steadily shrank and the soldiers lost their motivation and desire to fight. A similar comparison can be made between the U.S. Army and the German army during World War II. The volunteer, patriotic, and motivated U.S. Army gradually grew in strength and esprit de corps while the conscripted German army was steadily decimated over the course of this conflict.
       The ability to remain a strong, free, and independent nation is linked directly to the patriotism of that nation’s citizens. The willingness of those citizens to answer when their country calls on them is the cornerstone of that nation’s strength. Ronald Reagan once said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
       From the citizen soldier standing against the British at Lexington, the Union soldier standing firm at Gettysburg, the soldiers of the “Greatest Generation” slugging their way through Europe on their way to Germany, through Korea and Vietnam, and the brave men and women who have stood tall in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American soldiers, sailors, and marines have exemplified the spirit of patriotism.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Fall 2017



       At the end of WWI an armistice went into effect between the Allied forces and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Even though, the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending WWI, was not signed until June 28, 1919, November 11th was generally regarded as the end of the war. The date of the Armistice was the date established by President Woodrow Wilson to observe what was then known as Armistice Day. Following is an excerpt from President Wilson’s comments about the establishment of Armistice day: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and gratitude for the victory…” In 1926 the United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution with respect to the end of WWI with the following words: “Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples. An Act was approved by congress in 1938 which made the 11th of November a legal holiday. “A day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day. Up to this point Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of WWI.

In 1954 the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word “Armistice” with the word “Veterans”. This was done in recognition of the sacrifices and service of those who had fought in WWII and Korea. After this point in time, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. In October of 1954 President Eisenhower designated the Administrator of Veterans Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee. Later President Eisenhower notified the VA’s general council that this designation would also apply to all subsequent VA Administrators. In 1989 the VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, after which point in time, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee chairman. In 1968 the Uniform Holiday Bill was signed into law. The intent of this law was to ensure three day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays. These holidays were: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It soon became apparent that many state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations, and the American people in general felt strongly that the observance of Veterans Day should be returned to its original date of November 11th. For this reason, President Gerald Ford signed a law in 1975 which returned the observance of Veterans Day to November 11th. The end result of the establishment of Veterans Day on November 11th is that it is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

September 2016


I have often wondered what motivated the average Civil War soldier to line up shoulder to shoulder and march into a withering volley of rifle and canister. Could it have been the bond of brotherhood developed between soldiers who share the experience of combat? Could it have been that being labeled as a coward was worse to the soldier than dying on the battlefield? Could it have been a passionate belief in the cause for which they were fighting? Most likely it was a combination of all these things.
Most of the soldiers who served during the Civil War were volunteers who came from farms, shops, and factories. They had little or no experience in the ways of the military or of war, yet they displayed the courage and commitment of the bravest and most experienced professional soldier. Most of the volunteer units were formed in specific geographic locations. This meant that the members of that unit were neighbors, friends, and relatives. If a soldier in one of these units were to run away in the heat of battle, they and their family could have the stigma of this one act haunt them for years to come. One Ohio soldier wrote in his diary that he was scared prior to going into battle for the first time, however he would rather “…stand up to my duties like a man. Let the consequences be as they might. I’d rather die like a brave man than have a coward’s ignominy cling around my name and live.”
Another reason the Civil War soldier was able to perform the seemingly impossible task of marching into what appeared to be certain death was what researchers refer to as “primary group cohesion”. This simply means that those who share the experience of combat form a bond which has been referred to as a “band of brothers”. This means that each man in the unit depends on the other men to do their job. Each man fights to help the man next to him, they do not want to let their comrades down. A Massachusetts soldier wrote in his diary: “I have now spent a whole year with my comrades in battle, and having been with them in all circumstances, I must say that every one of them is as a brother to me.”
The Civil War soldier also fought for a cause that they were passionate about. The union army of the Civil War was the most literate army in history up to that time. In 1860, 94% of the white population of the northern states could read and write. The median age at the time of enlistment in 1861 and 1862 was a little over 23. Many of these people had come of age listening to the lengthy debates between Lincoln and Douglas. They were prolific readers of newspapers. Most of them had voted in the presidential election of 1860. They understood what was at stake and what the consequences would be if the Union lost the war. A captain from New York sent a letter home in 1864, following is a quote from his letter: “It is a very great mistake to suppose that the soldier does not think. Our soldiers are closer thinkers and reasoners than the people at home. It is the soldiers who have educated the people at home to a just perception of our duties in this contest. Every soldier knows he is fighting for his own liberty, but even more for the liberty of the whole human race for all time to come.”
President Lincoln once stated that the Union cause represented the last best hope for the survival of republican government in the world. Many union soldiers believed and fought for these words.
The words of a private from Massachusetts to his parents in 1862 is a simple and eloquent statement of why the Union soldier might have pressed on through the hardships and trials of the war: “The object of our government is one worth dying to obtain.”
As James M. McPherson stated in his book For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War,
“These two themes of soldier motivation—patriotism and ideological conviction on one side and primary group cohesion or solidarity with your buddies as a second motivation—are the “cause and comrades” in the title of my book.”
Throughout the decades since the Civil War the fine, brave men and women of the American military have demonstrated the same honorable characteristics displayed by the Civil War soldier. They have always stood tall and answered the call when their country needed them.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

July 2016



The 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870, however Independence Day has been celebrated from 1776 until present day. This is a day when families throughout our country gather together for picnics, parades, and fireworks. The freedom to celebrate the birth of our country was bought for us with the blood of the fine men and women who have stood tall and placed themselves in harm’s way in order to preserve those freedoms.
If you study the words of our founding fathers, they reveal their purpose for writing the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was used as an instrument to establish the foundation of a free and independent country, it was also used to record what their vision was for the future of the United States of America. John Adams wrote a number of letters which expressed his beliefs about the principles upon which our country was founded. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams can be quoted as writing, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity”. He went on to write, those principles “…are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God”. Many, and perhaps all, of the founding fathers felt the same way. This is evidenced by the fact that 27 of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of independence were trained as ministers. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote the following: “The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more. You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will tryumph in that days transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.” This quote describes, in many ways, how we currently celebrate the founding of our country and the price that has been paid in order to be able to celebrate it. Shortly after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, on the steps of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell was rung, thus proclaiming this declaration to the citizens of Philadelphia. Even though the Liberty Bell was placed many years before the Declaration was signed, it represented the spirit of the citizens of this new country. On the bell was inscribed a partial quote from the Bible. Specifically, the quote is from the book of Leviticus, chapter 25, verse 10. The quote is as follows: “…Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof...” This 4th of July celebrate our country, our freedom, and all those who made it possible for us to do so.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

June 2016

June 14, 2016 will be the 67th observation of an Act of Congress signed by President Truman designating this date as National Flag Day. Although this became an Act of Congress in 1949, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation to establish June 14th as Flag Day in 1916. As early as the late 1800’s schools and civic organizations would sponsor local celebrations of the flag. In spite of the long history of celebrating the flag of the United States of America, National Flag Day is not recognized as an official federal holiday.
This is a day on which all U.S. citizens are encouraged to proudly display their U.S. flag. Many communities throughout the United States will celebrate Flag Day with parades, ceremonies, and other patriotic events.
Following are some interesting facts about our flag:
There have not always been thirteen stripes on the U.S. flag. After the original 13 states, stripes were added for the next two states which joined the union. These states were Vermont and Kentucky. The 15 stripes remained on the flag until 1818 when congress passed an act changing the number of stripes back to thirteen to honor the original 13 colonies. The flag with 15 stripes was flying over Ft. McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
National Flag Day shares its date with two other significant events in the history of our country. On June 14, 1777 the 2nd Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the stars and stripes. On June 14th, 1775 the United States Army was established.
The significance of the colors in the Unites States flag are as follows: Red signifies hardiness and valor, White signifies purity and innocence, and Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
The proper way to refer to the flag is “Flag of the United States of America”. All other references to the flag are nicknames. Some of the popular nicknames for the flag are: The Star Spangled Banner, Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Red, White, & Blue.
There have been 27 versions of the Flag of the United States of America. This refers to how many times stars have been added to the flag. There have been many different versions of the flag in terms of arrangement of the Stars in the Union portion.
The last two stars added to the Flag were in 1949, representing Alaska and Hawaii.
On June 14, display your Flag proudly and celebrate our Flag, our country, and all of the fine young men and women who have answered the call when their country needed them.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

May 2016


         For the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, showing Patriotism is not just a duty but a passion for our Country.  The Month of May provides us two opportunities to display our Patriotism and to educate the public at the same time.  The two opportunities are Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.


         The Grand Army of the Republic supported citizens serving our Country to protect freedom, liberty, and our Constitution.  This demonstrated by training our youth in the Cadet Corps.  They also demonstrated taking care of the disabled by age and disease as shown in the 18th GAR Encampment, July 23, 1884.  The Chairman on National Homes submitted Section 5 of the bill to establish a Soldiers Home, "That all honorably discharged soldiers and sailors who served in the war of the rebellion, and the volunteer soldiers and sailors of the war of eighteen and twelve, and the Mexican War, who are disabled by age, disease, or otherwise, and by reason of such disability are incapable of earning a living, shall be admitted into the home for disabled volunteer soldiers, provided such disability not incurred in service against the United States."  This legacy still lives today with the Soldiers Home.  Let's show our gratitude for our Military on Armed Forces Day by being a part of that days recognition for them.


         Our second opportunity is Memorial Day.  This is our obligated duty that we do with solemn eagerness.  The 13th GAR Encampment Chaplain-in-Chief Joseph F. Lovering stated "...Such work concerns the sacred memory of our dead, that the precious inheritance of valor, sacrifice, good faith and loyalty they left may be guarded by us and enshrined in the life of our country.  Such work concerns our children, that they may learn that great lesson of patriotism, that the security of the State must depend upon the fidelity of the citizen; such work concerns our country, that treason, with its baneful smile and deceitful tongue, may not steal, by political audacity, what it could not conquer by the mailed arm of rebellion-that the nation may not suffer the shame of surrendering in peace what it paid blood and treasure for in war..."  Let us exemplify this belief on Memorial Day when we decorate the graves of our brave Men and Women.


         As we show our patriotism on Memorial Day; let us remember CinC John S. Kountz statement at the nineteenth GAR Encampment; "Memorial Day is the choicest in the calendar of the Grand Army-a day of sweet remembrance, dear to every loyal heart, and any violation of its sacredness by making it the occasion for frivolity and amusement, such as characterize the Fourth of July, should be treated as an indignity to the Comrades who died that this country might live."  It is our duty to educate the public the importance and the meaning of Memorial Day, and to exemplify this great duty handed down to us by the GAR.


Yours In Fraternity, Loyalty, and Charity.

Jeffrey French, PDC, PCC

National Patriotic Instructor

March 2016



There are few better examples of patriotism in the United States, than the actions of those who have won the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor did not exist, as such, before the Civil War. There was, however, an award called the “Certificate of Merit” which was authorized by Congress in March of 1847 and designated to be presented by the President when a “private soldier distinguishes himself in the service”. In December of 1861 Iowa senator James W. Grimes introduced Senate bill S. No. 82 to create a medal of honor to “Promote the efficiency of the Navy”. Senator Grimes was the chairman of the Senate Naval Committee. Later that same month the bill was passed by Congress and President Lincoln approved the Congressional action which provided for 200 Navy Medals of Valor. In February of 1862 Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts introduced a bill to provide for an Army Medal of Honor. This action was signed into law by President Lincoln in July of 1862 and provided for the creation of 2000 Medals of Honor to “be presented, in the name of the Congress, to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” In March of 1863 the Medal of Honor was made a permanent decoration, and was made available to officers as well. The Navy Medal of Honor remained available to enlisted men only. The Navy medal was not made available to officers until 1915.
More than 1,500 Medals of Honor were awarded for action during the American Civil War. It was not unusual for a Medal of Honor to be awarded decades after the war was over. The last Medal of Honor for action during the Civil War was presented by President Obama on November 6, 2014 to Union Army First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing for his action in the Battle of Gettysburg.
During the Civil War, the Medal of Honor was the only military award available to be presented, therefor it was sometimes presented for criteria less demanding than those specified in today’s standards. In 1918 the “Pyramid of Honor” was established. This provided for varying levels of awards, including: The Distinguished Service Cross, The Distinguished Service Medal, and the Silver Star. The President is authorized to present the Medal of Honor in the name of Congress. The other awards are authorized to be presented by the President, but not in the name of Congress. The act that established the “Pyramid of Honor” also stipulated that no person could receive more than one Medal of Honor. Prior to this time, there had been instances of soldiers being presented with the Medal of Honor more than once.
The design of the Medal of Honor has changed over the years. Now, each branch of the military has its own unique design for the Medal.
In the end, after all of the changes in design and criteria, one fact remains unchanged. Those who stood tall in the face of the enemy, those who earned the title of Medal of Honor recipient are some of the finest, bravest, and most courageous people to have ever worn the uniform of our great country.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

February 2016

December 2015




Christmas time for soldiers in the field during the American Civil War was much the same as it has been for soldiers throughout the history of our great country. Soldiers were far away from home, many for the first time. They missed their families. Any reminder of home brought comfort to those fine, brave young men. Many families would pack boxes full of homemade gifts at Christmas time and send them to their sons, husbands, or sweethearts. The soldiers would look forward to receiving these packages, with much the same anticipation as children wait to open presents on Christmas morning. These packages being delivered to the soldiers at Christmas time was the beginning of the tradition of giving gift wrapped presents for Christmas.
During the 1850’s, decorating trees for Christmas had gained popularity. In an attempt to carry on this new found tradition the soldiers would set up a tree in camp and decorate it with hard tack and pork.
While in camp, the soldiers would occasionally get a copy of Harper’s Weekly. During the war, illustrators with Harper’s Weekly would create drawings depicting the effect of the war on the families of the soldiers. The 1862 Christmas Eve issue showed a picture with a soldier’s wife on one side kneeling and praying and her soldier husband, on the other side of the picture, praying while on the battlefield. In that same issue Thomas Nast, one of the illustrators for Harpers Weekly, created an illustration of Santa Claus that defined how we perceive him today. Nast was the first to depict Santa as a rotund, white bearded, jolly man who wore a red suit, brought presents, and entered through the chimney.
The Union blockade of the southern coast made it difficult for families in the south to provide Christmas presents for their children. Mothers would tell their children that even Santa Claus couldn’t run the Union blockade.
Possibly the largest Christmas present ever given was presented to President Lincoln by General William T. Sherman in December 1864. It was just after Sherman’s army had completed its march to the sea. General Sherman telegraphed the following message to the President: “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 100 and 50 guns and plenty of ammunition, also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
After Sherman’s army had taken Savannah, approximately 90 Union Soldiers from Michigan, along with their commanding officer, loaded several wagons with food and other supplies. They took these supplies and traveled the countryside around Savannah and distributed the food and supplies to southern families. These soldiers tied tree-branch antlers to the mules that were pulling the wagons. The destitute southerners were cheered by the jolly soldiers and their makeshift reindeer.
As we celebrate Christmas with our families this season, let us remember all of those who spent Christmas away from home and family in service of our country. Let us especially remember those who will spend this Christmas separated from their loved ones.

Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

November 2015


With Veteran’s Day being on November 11, I thought it would be appropriate to write a narrative about the history of this observance. The holiday that we currently know as Veteran’s Day was originally observed on November 11, 1919 as Armistice Day in order to honor those who served in the military during World War I. November 11 was chosen because it was on November 11, 1918 that the Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending the war. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that day to be the first commemoration of the holiday with the following words: " To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…". After 1921, when the remains of a soldier from World War I were laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, the tradition of honoring fallen soldiers whose names are "known but to God" was begun. A Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day) color guard representing all branches of the military performs a ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns. This tradition continues.

Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance on November 11, and Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938. The name of the holiday was changed in 1954 when the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veteran’s" in its place. The purpose of this change was so that all veterans might be honored, in addition to those who served

during World War I.

From 1968 to 1975 Veteran’s Day was celebrated on the 4th Monday of October. In 1975 President Gerald Ford returned the observance of the holiday to November 11, because of the historical significance of the date.

Today, Veteran’s Day is observed to honor all those who have served in the United States military, both living and dead.

As of 2014, the Veteran’s Administration estimates that there were approximately 22 million military veterans in the U.S. population. If you add the numbers of veterans living at the time to those who were currently serving in the military as of 2014, 7.3 percent of all living Americans had served in the military at some point in their lives. Approximately 232,000 of those veterans were residents

of the State of Iowa.

We salute those who have served our great country. Thank you to all those who have stood tall when their country called on them.


Submitted in Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty

Ron Deal

Patriotic Instructor

Department of Iowa

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

October 2015


In searching for a subject to present as an example of patriotism during the American Civil War, I came upon the story of a man whose bravery and fierce dedication to his country, and comrades in arms, is genuinely inspiring. The man’s name is Thomas Plunkett. Mr. Plunkett was born in Ireland and moved, with his family, to the United States when he was six years old. He and his family lived in West Boylston, Massachusetts. At the onset of the Civil War, Mr. Plunkett enlisted in the 21st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Thomas was mustered into service as a corporal in Company E. The 21st Massachusetts ultimately became part of General Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps. After an intense engagement with Stonewall Jackson’s corps at the battle of Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia on September 1st 1862, now Sergeant, Plunkett went to find a wounded friend to get him off the battlefield. While traversing through thick woods after dark, without his weapon, he came upon a Confederate picket. Although he had no weapon, Sergeant Plunkett disarmed the Confederate soldier and took him prisoner. After Chantilly, the 21st was engaged at Fox’s Gap in South Mountain, and the battle of Antietam, both in middle September, 1862. Eventually the 21st Massachusetts, and Sergeant Plunkett, became engaged in the ill-fated frontal assault against entrenched Confederate troops at Marye’s Heights just outside of Fredericksburg. The 21st began its assault on Marye’s Heights at about 1:00 P.M. on December 13, 1862. During their advance on the Confederate position, the Color Sergeant for Company A was wounded and fell to the ground. Immediately, Sergeant Plunkett took the colors and advanced toward the Confederate position. About 650 feet from the Confederate line, Thomas was wounded by an artillery shell burst. Both of his arms were shattered and he was wounded in the chest. Driven by his intense patriotism and dedication, Sergeant Plunkett refused to go down. He supported the colors in spite of his life threatening wounds. He stayed upright until someone was able to get to him and relieve him of carrying the colors.

Thomas was carried off the field by stretcher bearers and evacuated to the field hospital in Fredericksburg. Here, both of his arms were amputated near the elbow, one just above and the other just below. After his release from the hospital he was furloughed home. Once home he was married and, after the war, went on to raise a family with his wife. Mr. Plunkett died in March of 1885. The flag that he had so bravely defended and refused to allow to go to the ground, still stained with his blood, was brought from the Massachusetts Statehouse and placed next to his casket during Thomas’s funeral.

Mr. Plunkett was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at Fredericksburg.


submitted in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty

Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War​

September 2015


Finding an example of patriotism during the American Civil War is not difficult. Finding an example which stands out from the thousands of instances of patriotism is a bit more of a challenge. In looking for an act of patriotism which happened during the month of September during the Civil War, I found one which I do believe stands out from the rest. In the process of researching this topic, the bar was set very high, as everyone who volunteered, put themselves in harm’s way, was wounded, or laid down their lives for their country are patriots and deserve to be honored as such. Since I can only write about one person I have chosen to mention a person whose love for her fellow man was so great that she placed herself in danger time after time in order to render aid and comfort to those who were wounded and suffering. I am, of course, referring to Clara Barton. She spent her professional career as a teacher. She could easily have retired and let the war go on without her. No one would have thought any less of her for it. After retiring as a teacher she moved to Washington to work in the patent office. She was there when the war started. As wounded soldiers found their way back to Washington, Clara would find them and use her own supplies to care for them. She took it upon herself to solicit additional supplies, with which she set up a facility to care for wounded soldiers. After this, she began to travel to the battlefields to care for the wounded. During the month of September in 1862, while rendering aid to a wounded soldier on the battlefield, she was nearly killed by a bullet which nicked her and killed the soldier that she was caring for. In addition to providing for the care of wounded soldiers, Clara established an office for finding lost soldiers. Through the efforts of this office, over 22,000 soldiers were found.
Most people know that Clara Barton went on to found the American Red Cross, of which she was elected its first president. She was often referred to as the Angel of the Battlefield. A nickname which was spot on and well earned. Clara Barton is an outstanding example of patriotism during the American Civil War.

Submitted respectfully,
Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa

August 2015


I recently had the opportunity to visit a small, country cemetery near Beaufort, Mo. The cemetery is located next to St. John’s Lutheran Church. I was sitting on a bench outside the church when I was approached by an elderly gentleman who, I assume, was a member of the church. He asked if I had a moment for him to show something to me. He seemed quite proud of what he was about to show me. This piqued my interest, so I followed him into the cemetery. Here he took me to a rather large monument dedicated to five civil war soldiers who had reportedly been buried here. This gentleman told me that the exact location of the remains of these soldiers, buried together in a mass grave, were not known but that the monument is in the general location where these remains were believed to be.

The basic details of how these union soldiers were killed are specified on one side of the monument itself, as shown on the picture. On the other side of the monument the names of the men buried there are given. This information, however, did not give the details of how these men came to lay down their lives for their country.
After I had been at the monument for a while, some other local people had gathered around the monument, along with myself and the gentleman who originally brought this to my attention. I asked them if they knew the circumstances that surrounded the event of these soldiers being laid to rest here. I was told that these men had been captured by Confederate infantry during the battle of Pilot Knob, after which, they had been marched to a place near Bolte’s Ford (not far from St. John’s Lutheran Church) and were killed by firing squad. Further research confirms what these folks were telling me. As stated on the monument, the good people of the congregation of what was then known at St. John’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church found the remains of the soldiers and placed them in a mass grave in the church cemetery. As stated on the monument, this was done under the cover of darkness due to concern about reprisal by confederate sympathizers. No marker was placed at the grave, presumably for the same reason.
Now we travel forward in time 150 years. The people of the congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church decided that it was time for these brave men, who gave their all for their country, to have a proper marker in order that people might know who they were and why they are buried here. After an having raised enough money to have this beautiful monument made, it was placed approximately where these men were buried, and dedicated on the 150th anniversary of the death of these five soldiers.
The congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church are to be commended for this act of patriotism.

submitted in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty

Ron Deal
Patriotic Instructor
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War



July 2015


The Sons of Veterans

Their Duty to the Members of the Grand Army

and their Duty to the Sons.

Seventeenth Annual Encampment of the Division of Washington, June 1906


…but the Grand Army of the Republic will cease to exist, and live only in history when the last comrade is mustered out, but your principles must live forever, and to whom better can you leave this sacred trust than the Sons of Veterans?


            No organization has been dedicated to a grander work than the Grand Army of the Republic.  None have been closer the Nation’s flag or dearer to the Nation’s heart.  The possibilities of men who served the Nation being able to render active service in the field, has become remote in by-gone days, but their example will remain, to inspire their children, and their children’s children, to deeds of lofty heroism and prove uplifting citizenship.  The right to membership in the Grand Army of the Republic was acquired by matchless devotion to country in the hour and time of the greatest need.  But states cannot be saved once for all, and the great Civil War will have saved this Nation but once, therefore, there is yet a future before the Sons of Veterans and the rising generations, and the Veterans could not utilize the efforts of their declining years to better advantage than by the upbuilding of an organization, which is sure to wield a mighty influence in this land…..


            Upon the same principles which your order has existed all these years, we also expect to exist.  It might be well for me to tell you more about what and who the Sons of Veterans are, although, by this time, each and every one of you should already know.




          Is composed of the best, most public spirited and patriotic of the young men of our country, whose fathers fought for the Nation.  It is made of such men as are most loyal to their fathers as well as their country.  The object of this organization is to take up and perpetuate the work which you must soon lay down.  They desire to keep alive in their own hearts and the great heart of the Nation a feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the services their fathers gave this county in the Civil War….


            “One Country and One Flag” has been your motto.  We have taken it upon ourselves to promote, perpetuate and emulate all the grand principles pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic.  Therefore, you should urge your sons to join our Order, and in every possible way aid and encourage this offshoot of your fraternity, that future generations may know of the work performed by their ancestors and vie with each other in the preservation of our national integrity, thereby making American citizenship better, purer, manlier, and a priceless boon to confer on all deserving people.


….”Our fathers were not too indifferent, too busy, or too anxious for riches to do their full duty in time of war, and we, their sons should certainly do something in time of peace.  The Confederate Sons are doing their duty as they see it, and we can certainly spare a little time from this commercial life we are living to help perpetuate the principles and preserve the institutions which our fathers forged from the white heat of battle.  May the badge of shame rest upon him who finds no time for such loyal things”


Millard T. Johnson

Commander Division of Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana

Sons of Veterans, U. S. A.


submitted in F, C and L

by Ron Deal, Department Patriotic Instructor


June 2015


 from the 1909 Ritual and Ceremonies

Sons of Veterans, U.S.A.

  the initiation of a candidate into the Order


.....the question of your further advancement in the Order may depend on the knowledge you display in your answers to the questions which will be propounded.  Of course, no one will ask any question of you which he himself is not prepared to answer.  The first Brother upon my left will ask the first question. Proceed.


  1. What was the principal cause which led to our fathers enlisting for the Union in the Civil War?

  2. Who was the president at the time of the beginning of the Rebellion?

  3. When, where and by whom was the first shot of the Rebellion fired?

  4. What the first important engagement of the Civil War and when was it fought?

  5. How many combatants were engaged in that battle?

  6. When did the Rebellion reach what is called the high water mark?

  7. How many combatants were engaged in that battle?

  8. Who were the commanders on either side?

  9. When was the battle of the Wilderness?

10. How many combatants were engaged in that battle?

11. Who were the commanders on either side?

12. When and where did General Lee surrender the army of North Virginia to General Grant?

13. Was that before or after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln?

14. What was the date of the assassination of Lincoln?

15. On what date was the Civil War declared to have closed?


Assuming the candidate could not answer all the questions, and a vote of NO from the Camp, the Commander would then have the candidate ask questions of the Camp members, such as:


  1. What was the total cost of the Civil War to the United States?

  2. What was the loss of the Union Army, by death, in field, hospitals and prisons, etc., officers and   men?

  3.  When did Richmond fall?

  4. Whate date did Lincoln issue his call for 75,000 volunteers?

  5.  Who commanded the first invading column into the South?

  6.  Who fired the first shot from Ft. Sumter?

  7. By whom, and on what date, was the United States flag raised on Ft. Sumter after its evacuation by Major Anderson?

  8. What Rebel Steamer was captured near New Orleans, Nov. 1, 1862?

  9. When was slavery abolished in the District of Columbia?

10. How, when, where and by whom was the Rebel ram, Albemarle, destroyed?

11. When and where did the Governors of the loyal states meet and endorse all the acts of the Government?

12. How many and by whom were issued proclamations of amnesty?

13. When was the battle of Arkadelphia, Ark. fought?

14. When, where and for what purpose was Bailey's Dam built?

15. When was the battle of Baker's Creek, Miss.?

16. When did Rebel emissaries attempt to burn New York City?

17. When was the battle of Batesville, Ark.?

18. When and where was Major General Phil. Kearney killed?

19. When was the battle of Pea Ridge?

20. When and where was Morgan the raider, killed?


The Commander would then respond: "You see, my Brothers, that taken unprepared as you were, you have failled in answering quite as many questions as the candidate and therefore, in all justice he may consider himself as well informed upon the subject of the War of the Rebellion as the rest of the Camp and should be received upon an equal footing, and accordingly, I again ask for a vote on his admission into full membership.".....


submitted in F, C and L

by Ron Deal, Department Patriotic Instructor

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