General John F. Hartranft Camp 15 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil
War – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The First Camp of Sons of Veterans in Harrisburg, was organized and
instituted February 11, 1882 and was known as Joseph Liness, Camp #15,
Pennsylvania Eastern Division, Sons of Veterans, U.S.A. At that time,
Pennsylvania was divided into two Divisions, known as the Eastern and
Western Divisions. In later years, the two divisions became consolidated
into what is now known as the Department of Pennsylvania.
The First Camp was disbanded in the early part of 1884. In the latter
part of the same year, reorganization was begun and Camp #15 (without
the name of Joseph Liness) was instituted on February 11, 1885 in the
Grand Army of the Republic Hall at 26 N. 3rd Street (now the Schleisner
The reorganized camp continued to be known only as Camp #15 for several
years and was the only Camp in the Division that was not named.
Subsequently, following the death of General John F. Hartranft of
Norristown, PA, the Brothers of Camp 15, at the meeting of the Camp on
October 29, 1889, on motion by A.D. Fisher and Wm. F. Raysor, the name
of General John F. Hartranft was adopted subject to approval of Division
Approval was granted and at the Camp Meeting held on
November 5, 1889, Camp No. 15 became officially known as General John F.
Hartranft Camp No. 15.
General John F. Hartranft who, in addition to serving in
the Union Army, served two terms as Governor of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, was the 5th Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the
Republic and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the
Republic to be elected from Pennsylvania.
Camp 15 was instituted in Post 58, Grand Army of the
Republic Hall at 26 North 3rd Street (now the Schleisner Building) where
they met until June 1916 when the Camp changed their meetings to
Headquarters of Seneca G. Simmons Post 116, Grand Army of the Republic
on Verbeke Street near Third Street. Shortly thereafter, Post 116 and
Camp 15 moved to Tack's Hall at 1216 North Third Street where they met
until 1928 when they moved to the Veterans Room at City Hall. In 1954,
we moved to 814 North Second Street.
From date of reorganization, Camp 15 assisted Posts 58 and 116 and the
Colored Veterans Post 520 in Memorial Day Work, as well as conducting
military funerals for Comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was
our privilege to conduct military services for the last survivors of the
Grand Army of the Republic and since they have departed to meet with the
Great Commander above, we, their Sons, have continued their work,
representing the Grand Army of the Republic on Memorial Day and
We are proud of our over one-hundred years of service to not only the
Grand Army of the Republic but to the community of Harrisburg and
veterans organizations in the area.
Camp 15 has contributed to our State Organization, six Department
Commanders and to our National Organization one Commander-in-Chief. Of
this, we are extremely proud. Five of the Department Commanders have
answered the final roll call. They are:
C. Day Rudy - Commander 1903-04 Mustered in February 11, 1895 - Mustered
out July, 1919.
Earl Steward - Commander 1911-12 Mustered in May 31, 1867-Mustered out
December 2, 1916.
Daniel D. Hammelbaugh - Commander 1927-28 Mustered in March 13, 1895 -
Mustered out March 1, 1933.
John H. Runkle - Commander 1938-39 Commander in Chief 1949-50.
Kenneth F. R. Hemminger - Commander 1952-53.
Edwin K. Kramer - Commander 1959-60.
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW)
is a heritage organization dedicated to preserving the memory of those men
who fought to save the Union in the conflict of 1861-1865. Although many
memberships, of males 14 (6 to 13 years for Junior) and over, are based on
the descent of those men, the order also offers Associate memberships
for men who share our goals, (Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty) and
interests, but who are not descended from a Civil War Soldier, Sailor or
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was a creation of the Grand Army
of the Republic (GAR). The GAR had been formed in 1866! Wanting to pass on
its heritage, the GAR in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania created a Corps of
Cadets in 1878, which later became the Sons of Veterans of the United States
of America (SV). This latter organization had been formed in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania on November 12, 1881. The SV units functioned much as National
Guard units and actually served along with state militia during the Spanish
American War. In 1904, the SV elected to become a patriotic education
society and in 1925 changed its name to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil
War (SUVCW). However, to keep the military aspect alive, the SUVCW created
within the organization the Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR) which was carried
on the Army rolls as a Reserve contingent. Some SVR units served with the
Army during World War I. After World War I, the SVR was listed as a training
the U.S. Army. In more recent years, the SVR's mission has become
ceremonial, and commemorative. Prior to disbanding and before the death of
its last member, the GAR officially designated
the SUVCW as its successor and heir to its remaining property. On August 20,
1954, the SUVCW was officially incorporated
by an Act of Congress by the passing of Public Law 605 of the second session
of the 83rd Congress, and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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,
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. 2007.