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Wheatland Sun

Sons of Union Veterans Keep Civil War History Alive

Feb 08, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Thomas J. Sullivan

Members of Sacramento Camp 22 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War at Sylvan Cemetery in Citrus Heights who rendered annual military honors on Memorial Day. Photo courtesy of SUV

Sons of Union Veterans Keep Civil War History Alive [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento membership of the non-profit Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is a fraternal, patriotic and educational organization to help keep the history of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and its role in the history of California alive.

“We’re actively looking for new members throughout California to consider joining us,” said Steve Bogart, whose ancestor Sgt. George S. Rhoades, served in Company D, of the 44th Missouri Infantry.

Organized in the structure of a military camp, as the Union Army itself was during the Civil War, members of the General George Wright Camp 22 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War meet on the first Friday of every month at *Sam’s Hofbrau Restaurant on 2500 Watt Avenue in Sacramento from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Members and their guests are welcome to attend monthly meetings. Its organization follows the guidelines of the national SUVCW, with a Camp Commander, Senior Vice-Commander, Junior Vice-Commander, Secretary, and Treasurer, all of whom are elected annually by the Camp members. The camp serves Northern California, Sacramento, and the Central Valley region.

In addition to meeting socially, SUVCW members wear the blue dress enlisted and officer uniforms of the Grand Army of the Republic era as they participate in historical re-enactments within the state and perform official honors and ceremonies throughout the year.

Bogart acknowledges ancestors in his family who served opposing sides during the Civil War and has fulfilled the role of chaplain in both the Sons of Union and Sons of Confederate groups. He’s a former member of the California State Military Museum in Old Sacramento and a recipient of the California Military History medal.

“I’m proud of their individual military service during the Civil War, and I feel it’s important to honor them and their legacy,” he said.

“Our Sacramento-based (SUV) group began in 1995,” he said. “Many of our members can trace their ancestors to those served during the Civil War in Union volunteer infantry units from the states of Indiana, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, just to name a few.”

In the Sylvan Cemetery at 7401 Auburn Blvd in Citrus Heights, the resting place of almost 1,400 Veterans, has some of its earliest burials from survivors of the Civil War. Nine soldiers who came to the area after the Civil War ended and are buried there.

“SUV members have been involved in four gravesite dedications of Civil War soldiers at the Sylvan Cemetery in Citrus Heights where a memorial headstone was… placed on a soldier’s grave where there was none, and a full civil memorial grave ceremony was then held,” Bogart said.

“In doing so, our members honor the history and legacy of heroes who fought and worked to save the Union,” he said.

A rifle color guard of the SUV has also fired at numerous annual Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies held there annually, he said.

The National Organization of the SUVCW now oversees the operation of 31 departments, each consisting of one or more states, along with a department-at-large, a national membership-at-large, and over 200 community-based camps.

In California, the history of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) at Sutterville, in the Sacramento area is a fascinating one.

Sutterville, known as Sutter and Sutter City, was located on the Southern Pacific Railroad about 2.25 miles south-southwest of the city limits. Pioneer John A. Sutter had Lansford W. Hastings and John Bidwell lay out the town in 1844, south of his embarcadero on a low bluff overlooking the Sacramento River. When the town of Sacramento developed at Sutter’s embarcadero, Sutterville fell into decline.

Its fortunes quickly changed when Camp Union became California's most prominent provider of troops for camps in the West throughout the years of the Civil War.

A third of California’s 15,000 volunteers who served in the GAR trained at Camp Union, located at Sutterville Road and Land Park Drive. The site has since been designated a state historical landmark.

Members of the 5th Infantry Regiment California Volunteers were organized at Camp Union on October 8, 1861, and trained by Brevet Brigadier General George W. Bowie for duty in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas against the Confederate forces. The camp operated from 1861 until it was evacuated due to the flood waters from the Great Sacramento Flood of 1862.

The 5th Regiment joined the California Column and marched across southern New Mexico Territory to Texas. There it occupied Franklin, Texas until the regiment was mustered out in December of 1864.

Towards the end of the Civil War, Camp Union became a discharge center for returning troops until the post was closed and abandoned in 1866.

In all, members of the 5th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry spent much of their time in service in the western United States, attached to the Department of the Pacific and Department of New Mexico.

Hereditary membership is available to a male descendant, 14 years of age (6 to 14 for Juniors), who descends from a soldier, sailor, Marine or member of the Revenue Cutter Service (or directly descend from a brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister of such Soldier, etc.) who was regularly mustered and served honorably in, was honorably discharged from, or died in the service of, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Revenue Cutter Service of the United States of America or in such state regiments called to active service and was subject to the orders of United States general officers, between April 12, 1861 and April 9,1865.

“We’re a very active group in California,” Bogart said. “A number of men have also participated in the Civil War re-enactments both at Fort Point in San Francisco during Civil War Days and as Friends of Civil War Alcatraz in recognition of its defensive role during that war,”

Men with an interest in joining the SUVCW but who do not live in an area where an SUVCW Department or Camp exists, may join as “members-at-large,” Bogart said.

Those interested in learning more about the Sacramento SUV group can contact Bogart by phone at 916-489-8895 or attend a monthly meeting on the first Friday of every month at the Hof Brau Restaurant on 2500 Watt Avenue in Sacramento from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Visit or for a listing of upcoming activities in the California region.

*Sam's Hof Brau Restaurant closed temporarily due to a fire. A future reopening date will be announced.


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