The Charge, As Given to the SCV

The Charge remains a source of confusion for all Sons of Confederate Veterans, with some taking very strong stances for their version. Indeed, if you look through multiple SCV sites, even within the same State, you will see many of them using different versions from one another. There may never be a final answer, but from available sources, it would seem that all may be right, in a way…

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 paragraph taken from the speech recorded in the April 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans, pages 30-35.

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 paragraph is taken from speech recorded in the June 1906 Confederate Veteran pages 245-255.

The Generations 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.

There is no known document contemporary from either the 1906 United Confederate Veterans (UCV) or the United Sons of Confederate Veterans (USCV) reunions that contains the “Generations Charge”.

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 state the following on pages 58 and 59:

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.

But no record is entered as to the exact contents of the paragraph, word for word, as he repeated them. he 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 paragraph matches word for word and cites that it was given in the speech of Gen. Lee given at the 1906 U.C.V. Reunion.  We therefore have historic documentation of the same charge being given in both the 1906 minutes of the United Confederate Veterans and the 1906 minutes of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans. And we have the text of that statement as given by Gen. Lee at the U.C.V. Reunion. It may therefore be surmised from the facts available, that this version of the charge repeatedly referenced and given by Gen. Stephen D. Lee is in fact, the charge that was given directly to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and which we are duty bound to uphold.

This is not to say that the good General DIDN’T say:

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.

He is in fact, recorded to have said just this very ending. But it wasn’t said as part of the charge, as you will see below, this statement was made on page four of the PDF I have included, while the Charge doesn’t begin until page six. Thus, it is safe to assume that it was not given as part of the charge, though it was spoken by General Stephen Dill Lee during the same speech, and may well have been appropriated as part of the charge due to its powerful message.

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. 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 and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.”

For those interested, the ENTIRE address by General Stephen Dill Lee to the Sixteenth Annual Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans is reproduced below (begins with his introduction at the bottom of the first page):

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