In Memoriam Brother Elmer F. Atkinson

From the Desk of: Ed Gibson
Camp Commander
Major General Thomas H. Ruger Camp #1


I wish to say a few things about Bud (Elmer) Atkinson.  I have known Bud since I was first inducted into the Order more than 20 years ago in the Anna M. Ross Camp #1, Department of Pennsylvania.  

The meeting was held at the G,A,R, Museum and Library in what is now known as the Bud Atkinson room.  Bud served the order in many roles at the Camp, Department, and National levels including a term as Commander-in-Chief.  His wife served in some of the same roles in the Auxiliary.  

My aunt and mother both served in the Auxiliary with Bud's wife, Margaret Atkinson.  Bud served for over 78 years in the Order, making him one of the longest serving members in the Order.  He also helped form the 28th Pennsylvania Company C Reenactors and served in the SVR to the rank of Inspector General.  Bud helped revitalize the GAR Museum and Library in Philadelphia and was honored as President Emeritus.  Recently, Bud donated some of this Order memorabilia for auction and the monies were donated to the Order.

The Order has lost a Brother who dedicated his life to the Order.

A more complete biography of Bud can be seen on the National web site under past Commanders-in-Chiefs.

In F, C, & L,

Brother Ed Gibson
Camp Commander
MG Thomas H. Ruger Camp #1
Department of North Carolina

Additional Memories of  Brother 

Bud Atkinson was in many ways responsible for the development of the SUVCW in North Carolina. 

When my father, the Rev. Dr. Nelson Rightmyer, died in 1983 I found his SUVCW membership badge in his chest of drawers. He and I had never talked about the SUVCW though his grandfather and great-grandfather fought in the Union Army.

I found Bud Atkinson's name and wrote to him about the SUVCW. He helped me join our fellowship and for several years sent me the names and addresses of members at large with North Carolina addresses. 

In the early 1990's we were able to hold a meeting of members in Raleigh. We did not have enough members to organize a camp at that meeting, but among those present was Dr. Maurice Ankrom.  Dr. Ankrom and I continued to meet and work on identifying possible members and Dr. Ankrom finally gathered enough members and prospective members to hold an organizing meeting in Kinston, NC. From that meeting came the Ruger Camp 1 and four other camps who eventually formed the Department of NC.

Dr. Ankrom served as first Ruger Camp Commander. I was honored to serve as Secretary.

Without Bud Atkinson's continuing faithful help the formation of a camp and now a department in North Carolina would have been much delayed.

Brother Tom Rightmyer 
PCC Ellis Camp 3 Department of NC


Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was a creation of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) which was 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 was 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 company of the U.S. Army.

In more recent years, the SVR's mission has become historic, 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.

Major General Thomas H. Ruger Camp #1

The organizational meeting of the Major General Thomas H. Ruger Camp #1 was held on September 16, 1995. This date was selected to commemorate the joining of military forces under General Sherman and General Schofield at the end of the Civil War.

Rev. Dr. Maurice E. Ankrom, who had served as the camp organizer since March 1995, called the meeting to order. Dr. Ankrom was then chosen by acclamation as the first Camp Commander.

Commander Ankrom recommended the camp be named in honor of Major General Thomas H. Ruger whose military record included action in the Battle of Wyse Fork, North Carolina in March 1865; and after the war, served as Commander of the North Carolina Department and later Superintendent of West Point.

The camp’s charter application was approved on July 30, 1996 with its headquarters in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Ruger Camp was designated Camp #1, the first SUVCW camp chartered in North Carolina.

Today the Ruger Camp continues to honor those ancestors that fought and died to preserve the Union. The Camp participates in memorial ceremonies, the support of new monuments and the preservation of existing monuments and battlefields as well as community projects.  These include:
  • The first Union Civil War Monument on North Carolina state property, Bentonville Battlefield State Historical Site.
  •  A monument for Captain Alexander McRae at the old Courthouse in Fayetteville.
  •  A “Walk of Honor” engraved paver at Fort Fisher.
  • Maintenance and upkeep of the Monroe’s Crossroads Battlefield.
  • The annual Memorial Day Wreath Laying at the Wilmington National Cemetery.
  • Representing the SUVCW at the annual ceremonies at  Fort Fisher
  • Representing the SUVCW at annual Bentonville Battlefield ceremonies.
  • Providing flags for Memorial Day
  • Participating in High School JROTC programs in the area.
  • Honoring Eagle Scouts

Major General Thomas H. Ruger

Born in New York, Thomas H. Ruger was appointed to West Point from Wisconsin in 1850, graduating 3rd in the class of 1854. He served as an engineer in New Orleans until resigning none months later in 1855. He then practiced law in Janesville, Wisconsin.

At the start of the Civil War on June 29, 1861, he was commissioned as a Lt Colonel of the 3d Wisconsin on 29 June 1861, then Colonel on 1 September 1861. Under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks He led the unit in the Shenandoah Valley and in Northern Virginia in the campaigns of spring and summer 1862.

During the Antietam Campaign, he commanded the 3rd Wisconsin Regiment part of the Third Brigade/First Division in the Twelfth (XII) Corps, Army of the Potomac and assumed command of the Brigade when Brigadier General Gordon took over the Division.

Thomas H. Ruger was promoted Brigadier General 29 November 1862, led a brigade in the Rappahannock campaigns, and commanded a division at Gettysburg. He was in Tennessee till April, 1864, led a brigade in Sherman's Georgia campaign (to November, 1864), and a division of the 23d Corps in the campaign against General John B. Hood's army in Tennessee. He was cited by brevet for the battle of Franklin. He commanded a division in North Carolina until June 1865, and then had charge of the department of that state till June, 1866, when he mustered out of Volunteer service.

After the war he accepted a commission in the Regular Army as Colonel of the 33rd Infantry in July 1866, and served as provisional governor of Georgia until 1868 (see portrait). He serve as Superintendent of the US Military Academy West Point from 1871 to 1876. From 1876 to 1878 he served as commander of the Department of the South. Transferring to the western frontier, he served as commander of the District of Montana from 1878 to 1885. As he arose through the ranks, he was promoted to Brigadier General, USA, in 1886, and Major General in 1895. He retired from the Army 2 April 1897. 

Camp Meeting Location

The Major General Thomas H. Ruger Camp #1 meets on the second Saturday of the month four times a year beginning February through October. In December, the Camp meets on the first Saturday of December. The Camp’s primary meeting place is the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Armory, 210 Burgess Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina 28301.
Meetings commence at 11:00 a.m.
Meeting Room