Our camp is named for Lieutenant Commander Edward Lea USN, who served as the executive officer of the U.S.S. Harriet Lane. He and his commanding officer, Jonathan Wainwright, were both killed during the Battle of Galveston. They are buried in Galveston’s Episcopal Cemetery.
On July 16, 1994, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War granted a provisional charter for the Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lea Camp No. 2 in Houston. From an initial seven members in 1994, membership more than tripled by 1996, and the Lea Camp’s charter was made permanent. During the same period, other camps were organized in Texas and Oklahoma and, in May 1995, the Lea Camp joined with them to establish the Department of the Southwest.
In late 1996, desiring to involve members’ wives and partners in their work, the Lea Camp supported the formation of a local branch of the ladies Auxiliary to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Organized in 1883 to assist the Sons, the National Auxiliary chartered the Edward Lea Auxiliary No. 1 on December 7, 1996. Soon thereafter, however, Lea Auxiliary members voted to adopt a new appellation. The group henceforth became the Sarah Emma Seelye Auxilary, taking its name from the daring woman who served in the Union Army while disguised as a man. Although she served from Michigan, Seelye settled in Texas after the war and is buried in Houston’s Washington Cemetery. Seelye was also a member of the McClellan Post and held the distinction of being the GAR’s only official female member.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of veteran heroes who fought and worked to save the Union in the American Civil War. Organized in 1881 and chartered by Congress in 1954, the SUVCW is the legal heir and successor to the Grand Army of the Republic.
In 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades. Membership in the veterans’ organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956.
In 1881 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership, but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as Associates. This practice continues today.
Many GAR Posts sponsored Camps of the SV. In 1925, the SV name was changed to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), under which its federal charter was issued in 1954. The SUVCW is legally recognized as the heir to, and representative of, the GAR.
Today, the National Organization of the SUVCW, headed by an annually elected Commander-in-Chief, oversees the operation of 26 Departments, each consisting of one or more states, a Department-at-Large, a National Membership-at-Large, and over 200 community based camps. More than 6,360 men enjoy the benefits of membership in the only male organization dedicated to the principles of the GAR — Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. It publishes “The BANNER” quarterly for its members. The SUVCW National Headquarters is located in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The SUVCW is one of five Allied Orders of the GAR. The other four Orders are: Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.