Camp Wheeler's Next Meeting is on
Tuesday, September 9th, at 7:30pm!
Camp Wheeler's October 2014 Newsletter
is now available online!
If you have not received your copy directly, it is now available here on the Camp web site from the Newsletter section web page.
At Our September Meeting
When Commander Underwood began the
meeting, he announce that we did not have a guest speaker for the
meeting, but instead we would have an open floor discussion of
anything the membership wished to talk about.
13th Brigade Commander Steve
Camp started the conversation by talking about the controversy
surrounding the Georgia Division Commander's Office. I have written a
large article about this below, so I will let that tell the tale.
There are two bits of Camp News to
note. The first if that membership dues need to be remitted no later
than the October 14th membership meeting. Please bring
your dues to that meeting, or have them mailed to the camp's post
office box prior to that date.
Secondly, it's that time for the Camp's Officer Elections. Nominations will be opened up at our October meeting and the nominees will be announced at our November meeting. The nominees will be posted in our newsletter and this website. We will vote on our new Officer's at our Membership Meeting on December 9th. Mail-in votes must be received before that meeting. Once that vote is tallied, we will announce the winners. The new board will be sworn in at the annual Lee-Jackson Dinner in January.
The Offices that are open for election to are:
1st Lt. Commander
2nd Lt. Commander
Just so you know, there are appointed officers which are not elected. They are:
To my knowledge, these positions remain seated.
At the same time, we are also taking
nominees for our two annual recipients of Compatriot and Person of
the Year Awards. Anyone is eligible for the Person of the Year Award
that has contributed to the Camp, the SCV, or the Confederate Cause
in general. The Compatriot of the Year Award is bestowed to the
member of Camp Wheeler that has gone above and beyond the call of
duty. As with the Officer election, the nomination and election
process is the same, but the winners will not be revealed until the
Lee-Jackson Dinner in January.
Speaking of the Lee-Jackson Dinner, it
was announced that the 2015 dinner will be much different than years
past. It will be a much larger affair and will be held at the
Cherokee Run Country Club at the Georgia International Centennial
Olympic Horse Park in Conyers. Unlike before, it will be held on
Saturday, January 24th instead of the second Tuesday of
the month. Tickets will be priced at $45 per person. We plan to open
up the dinner by inviting the other camps of the 13th
Brigade to join us, so we think this will be a well-attended event.
Plans are forming now, so there will be much more to talk about after
the November Membership Meeting.
August 22-24th, Nash Farms held a commemoration of Kilpatrick's Sabre Charge at the Nash Farms Battlefield & Museum. They used the opportunity to dedicate a marble monument dedicated to the soldiers, both Union and Confederate, that gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield. Camp Wheeler made a contribution to the erection of the monument and we were surprised to see that at the base of the monument, they listed those that made a significant contribution. Camp Wheeler is listed among them.
The Georgia Division Commander Controversy
As many of you may know, there has been a controversy that surrounded our new Division Commander, Ray McBerry, At Camp Wheeler's September Membership Meeting, 13th Brigade Commander Steve Camp talked to us about what has and is going on. I would like to repeat most of what Commander Camp told us.
First off, Steve made it clear that Commander McBerry has done nothing illegal, rather, what has occurred seems to be more of a lapse of good judgment and a stupid comment that was caught on video by WAGA/Fox5 Atlanta's news crew. As I understand it, McBerry was requested by a client or associate to find a young female model for promotional work. He found a young woman that was 18 years of age and asked her to show up at a park, wearing a specific type of rather skimpy bathing outfit so he could take photographs of the model. He met her at the park by himself. What he did not know was the potential model showed up with her mother and a Fox5 news team in tow. The mother asked him what was he going to do with the photos, to which he replied “Nothing”. This gave the impression that he was going to use the photos for some type of personal exploitive function. As Commander Camp said, it was a very bad answer that while he may have had innocent intentions, in this day and age, everyone is under suspect of nefarious deeds. Of course Fox5 saw this as an opportunity to make sensational and scandalous accusations regarding Commander McBerry. With him as Georgia's Division Commander of the SCV, of course this has been used in the media to tarnish the good name of Sons of Confederate Veterans.
While I believe the controversy has all but died publicly, The SCV Commander in Chief, Kelly Barrows, suspended Commander McBerry from his elected office as Georgia Division Commander, pending a review hearing by the SCV General Executive Council that will take place on October 25th, 2014. Mr. McBerry in a letter dated August 5th (shown below this article). Acknowledged CIC Barrow's actions and “voluntarily” stepped down from the office he held. In his place, Lt. Commander Mike Mull is now the acting Georgia Division Commander.
Therefore, On October 25th there will be a Hearing at National Headquarters at Elm Springs in Columbia, Tennessee. The accusation that stands before the General Executive Council is whether Ray McBerry acted in a manner that his conduct was unbecoming to his office and the SCV. We were told that it appears McBerry wanted to have his lawyer with him at the hearing, but he was told he must stand alone and must answer all question asked of him directly since this is not an actual court of law.
If the Council determines his actions were unbecoming, he will be permanently removed from his position. I believe they can go so far as to remove McBerry from the organization all together if they deem that is required.
Now this is where it gets a bit weird for me and I can only assume what happens next is due to SCV rules and regulations set forth in the group's By-Laws. Should the Council rule in favor of McBerry and dismiss the charges, McBerry will not be able to assume the office of Georgia Division Commander immediately. Acting Commander Mull will retain the office until the 2015 Georgia Division Reunion, held in June. At that time, those in attendance will vote in favor or reject McBerry's resumption as Commander. If the vote does not reinstate McBerry, then a new permanent Commander would be voted into office for the remainder of the 2014-2016 term that will have one year remaining.
My personal opinion is that Ray McBerry will not return to office in the SCV, at least as Division Commander. From what I was told when he ran for office, his nomination was controversial to begin with. It was our camp consensus at the very least, he certainly displayed a lack of good judgment that placed him in this scandalous situation. While I think the accusations brought against him are worthy of consideration, should the General Council dismiss the charges, I do not feel the Division will allow him to return to office.
It is certainly a sad situation for everyone involved. It only drives home the old addage to think before one acts or speaks.
A Message from Division Commander
Gentlemen of the Georgia Division,
Since being elected Division commander, I have called into service outstanding men who will continue to work for the Division. They are:
Chief of Staff: Pete Giddens
Division Chaplain: Kim Beck
Division Historian: Mark Pollard
Georgia Confederate Editor: Al Perry
Heritage Action Committee
* Billy Bearden
* Nick Posey
* John Hall
* Tim Pilgrim
* Kim Beck
* Don Newman
* Harry Eubanks
Tag Fund Committee
* Tim Pilgrim
* Jack Bridwell
Confederate Heritage Month Committee
* Calvin Johnson
* James King
* Fred Wilhite
* Al Perry
* Don Newman
Time & Place Committee
* Pete Giddens
* Al Medcalf
Public Relations Committee
* Tim Pilgrim
* Kim Beck
* Jack Bridwell
I have literally heard from hundreds of you over the last week; and, with only a couple of exceptions, you have been overwhelmingly supportive of me staying the course. I am acknowledging my suspension as Division commander for the time being, because I believe that it is what is best for our Division. I cannot adequately express my joy in having served with you since you elected me in such a show of support at our Division Reunion and my sincere gratitude in how you have supported me this past week. Never has a commander been blessed to have the love and support of his men as I have had in such a short time as commander.
It is my belief that the Georgia Division is the greatest division within our organisation. I believe that you are the finest group of men that any Southern commander has had the opportunity to lead since our fathers left the field to return home in 1865. Please do not abandon the Division that we love so dearly, even for my sake. Even if the CIC should continue his "suspension" of me as Division commander against the wishes of the Georgia Division, at next year's Reunion you will still have the opportunity to choose a new Division commander. If there is no one else that you would prefer, you may even choose to disavow the CIC's suspension and elect me again; but please do not leave our Division. If good men leave, what will become of the organisation that we wish to leave our children and grandchildren?
If you wish to express your wishes to the CIC regarding my reinstatement, you are, of course, welcome to cc me on it, as well. You may also ask your Georgia Division EC to adopt their own recommendation to the GEC for my reinstatement as Division commander.
This email will be my last official act until I am reinstated, but I hope that you will still call upon me just as you have before if there is anything that I may do for our Division, your camp, or you personally. I will continue to be in contact with you from time to time. I will not be using the Division email list to communicate with you, but my personal email list of Division members is larger than the official list anyway. Now I'm going to go spend some more time with my son who is about to become a teenager. May God bless each of you.
As before, I remain your servant in the Cause,
Ray McBerry, (now Former) Division Commander
Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans
Sesquicentennial of Garrard's raid
on Conyers Station
By Commander Joe Underwood, Camp 863
The Sesquicentennial observance of Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard’s raid on Conyers Station, July 22, 1864, was held on Tuesday July 22, 2014 at the Conyers Depot. The event was a great success, thanks to Our Compatriots, the members of the Rockdale County Historical Society and the hard work of Ms. Harriet Gattis, Tourism Manager for the City of Conyers, who’s promotion of the event brought 91 people out to see our displays and hear our guest speaker Ms. Rosanna Taylor’s presentation on “The War Comes to Conyers Station”.
Our members came though “Big Time” with their artifacts displays. Watch for more details upcoming in the August issue of Gen. Joe’s Dispatch.
117th Georgia Division Reunion
in Columbus, GA Report
By Commander Joe Underwood, Camp 863
The 117th Georgia Division Reunion was held on June 13th and 14th in Columbus. I would like to thank our host camp, Stewart-Webster Camp 1607 and their Commander Glen A. Cobb for all their hard work making everyone welcome and organizing this important election year reunion.
In attendance from our camp was myself, Adjutant Steve Camp and Compatriots Mark Camp and Bryan Camp. Thank you Bryan and Mark for being delegates and casting your votes on behalf of the camp.
The election results for Division Officers were as follows:
Lt. Cmdr. North: - Philip Autrey
Lt. Cmdr. South: - Michael Mull
Division Adjutant: - Tim Pilgrim
Div. Judge Advocate: - Dan Coleman
13th Brigade Cmdr.: - Steve Camp
2014-001 was withdrawn by Scott Gilbert
2014-002 proposed amendment submitted by Adjutant Camp to go to a single Lt.
Commander for the division. - Failed
2014-003 proposed amendment submitted by Div. Adjutant Tim Pilgram to allow
Division lapsed members to prorate Division Dues. - Passed.
The 2014/2015 proposed operating budget of $43,000.00 - Passed.
Five Tag Fund Projects totaling $44,075.00 were all approved and funded.
One of the highlights of this years reunion was the Friday evening tour of the Confederate Navel Museum. I encourage all of you to make the trip to Columbus to see this well done part of Confederate history.
Congratulations to Adjutant Steve Camp for being elected our new 13th Brigade Commander. I look forward to working with Steve to improve communications between the camps in our brigade and increase our ranks. I know you will give him your support as well.
Camp Online Archives
Just a bit of housekeeping here to advise you of. All of Camp Wheeler's encampement news from the end of 2013 and back have now been placed in the online encampment news archive. That is available via a link at the bottom of this page.
At Our April and May Meetings
I was not able to attend the May meeting due to a serious infection in my leg that gave me serious mobility issues. I regret not being able to give an online report of the meeting.
At Our March Meeting
Our Guest Speaker was Mr. D. Evan Castle,the founder of Co. B, 3rd Regiment, Confederate Engineers reenacting company Mr. Castle attended the U.S. Army Topographic Surveying School in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia and spent forty years as a surveyor. He is the owner of Confederate Surveying Associates, Inc. in Monroe, Georgia. Mr. Castle’s subject will be “Jed Hotchkiss, Stonewall Jackson’s Mapper". His talk was very engaging and the meeting was very well attended due to his presentation. In addition to his talk, Mr. Castle also presented several pieces of period equipment that was used during the War.
In addition to Mr. Castle's talk, we also heard from 13th Brigard Commander, Philip Autry. He is running for the position of North Georgia Division Commander in the election that will be held at the June Georgia Division Reunion. During his talk to the camp, we touched on a few topics including the immediate need to rally our Compatriots to participate more if they can and the need to begin recruiting more people into the SCV.
Currently, there are 3089 Compatriots in the Georgia Division and we are currently the 3rd largest Division in the SCV, down from the largest Division in the SCV. This is a downward trend that has been taking place over the last several years. unless something is done to correct this, it is inevitable that the downward spiral will continue.
Yours truly, the Camp Webmaster, brought up to the Commander that he feels one of the largest issues I feel that plagues the majority of the encampments around the Metropolitan Atlanta Area is the fact that thanks to attrition and Compatriots being in their "Senior Years", these once well attended encampments have an active membership base so small, a good number of them are not even bothering to have regular meetings. I poised to the Commander that the larger encampments, such as Joe Wheeler and Memorial Camp (of which the Commander belongs to) perhaps needed to engage the members of the smaller camps to help bring those Compatriots back into some form of activity within the SCV ranks. I suggested that as a first step, we initiate a new online messaging group, perhaps based in the Yahoo! social networking discussion group and perhaps even a Facebook group.
This was a well received idea and after our meeting, Commander Autrey and I discussed this further. I am starting work on developing these concepts further.
At the end of Commander Autrey's talk, he asked for Commander Underwood and Adjutant Steve Camp to join him. He then presented the two with mounted certificates of appreciation for all their hard work on behalf of the SCV and Camp Wheeler.
After our refreshment break, Commander Underwood took the podium to talk about on-going encampment business. In order by date:
1. Commander Underwood was very happy with our work detail at the Middlebrooks Family Cemetery on March 1st. Nine Compatriots and Debbie Autry volunteered their time and efforts. the primary goal was to set 90 "Unknown" markers on the unmarked graves. Commander Underwood had felt it would take about three hours to get the work done, but thanks to the good turnout, it was all under in about 90 minute's time.
Prior to the meeting, 1st Lt. Commander Jerry New informed me that he needed to make an approximately 20 additional unknown markers that needed to be placed. This was not due to discovering additional graves, but rather now that the cemetery walls were rebuilt, there were graves that were covered by the wall rubble that are now accessible. In addition to those graves, there are a few that were marked with fieldstones, which really need some form of actual marker so all of the unknown graves will be uniformly marked.
2. We are tentatively planning a work detail at the Meadors Cemetery on the first Saturday in April. Commander Underwood stated the date to be April 1st, but in actuality, the first Saturday will be April 5th. This is a tentative date in part due to our unpredictable weather patterns, so please be prepared for a decision to be made the week prior to the work detail.
3. April is Confederate Heritage Month. To commemorate this, Camp Wheeler holds its annual Open House at our Membership Meeting on April 8th. Compatriots are invited to bring their Relics and Memorabilia to display. In addition, we will be holding a silent auction of donated items to help raise funds for our various projects. If you have something you'd like to donate for the auction, please contact Commander Underwood.
Also, even though we always welcome the general public, we make an extra effort to invite people to attend this annual open house. In the spirit of Southern Hospitality, we ask our compatriots to bring some form of light snack, dessert, finger food, and/or beverages to make our refreshment buffet well supplied!!!
4. Friday, April 25th is the official State observance of Confederate Memorial Day. Camp Chaplin Maxey, who is a expert scholar on the Confederate Constitution will be at the University of Georgia in Athens when the actual Confederate Constitution will be placed on public display. He will be fielding any and all questions regarding the Constitution and the Confederacy in general.
5. Saturday, April 26th is Confederate Memorial Day. Commander Underwood and Camp Genealogist Gene Wade are working on a commemoration event to be held at the Confederate Cemetery at Oxford College in Covington. Details will be finalized by our April Membership Meeting.
6. Judy Hardegree, of the Harris Homestead Foundation, has invited Camp Wheeler and the SCV to come participate in a two-day event at the homestead on May 24th and 25th. The event will include a large antiques fair & Flea Market, as well as various period farming demonstrations, food, and live music.
The homestead is located between Winder and Monroe.
7. The 2014 SCV Georgia Divison Reunion will take place June 14th in Columbus. This is an election year, so this is an important Reunion to attend.
8. On August 30th, there is a planned event at the Lander's family homestead, cemetery, and church located of of Pleasant Hill Road near Duluth. We do not know much about this event, but could be something very interesting to participate in.
With that, our meeting was concluded. Please make plans to come out and participate in our April Open House!!!
2016 SCV Georgia Divison Reunion
Two years ago, there was a brief discussion about Camp Wheeler becoming involved in the planning and presentation of the 2016 Reunion. since that time, Hal has been in discussions with the Reunion's Chariman, Richard Straut as well as his compatriot Dennis Elm.
Because there are two Reunions prior to the 2016 Reunion, planning has been worked on at a very relaxed pace, but that now needs to be seriously accelerated.
From my talks, it is hoped that the 2016 Reunion will be much different from previous Reunions that have been effectively just a business meeting and Banquet/Ball later that evening. It is hoped that this Reunion will be of signigicant interest to a wider group of SCV Compatriots with events that include instruction, education, and engaging entertainment.
So far, I (Hal Doby) have volunteered my personal services to help Memorial Camp with this daunting task. While Camp Wheeler has shown interest, there has not been an actual commitment from the Camp to officially participate in co-hosting or just lending a hand to Memorial Camp. I hope that in the coming month or two, one we have some form of game plan on the table, Camp Wheeler's leadership can make a decision on what the camp's participation will be.
From my talk with Commander Autrey, We are talking about having the first actual planning meeting regarding the Reunion in April, after the 15th (Tax Day). We would like to invite anybody who would like to be involved in helping to plan and host the Reunion to attend this meeting. I will posting more about this as plans come together as well as talking about this at our April Meeting.
Middlebrooks Family Cemetery Work Detail
Everyone showed up around 8am on a chilly morning to begin work. As the markers were being installed, Commander Underwood performed some chemical cleaning on the existing grave markers with a bio-degradeable solution designed to remove black and green moss from monuments.
At the end of the day all 100 markers had been installed and it was a very productive work session. It turns out Jerry needs to make an additional markers to mark 20 additional graves.
The Middlebrooks Family Cemetery has been an on-going project for Camp Wheeler going on for over three years now. It is a project that the Camp has deeply invested in and is the source of a lot of pride for the camp and our compatriots. You can read more about the cemetery at this page by clicking here.
Compatriot of the Year - Larry Cornwell
When we began the project, after the overgrowth from the cemetery had been removed, this is how the rock wall looked.
Person of the Year - Mrs. Cassie Barrow
If you have not visited Nash Farm Battlefield, you really should make plans to do so. It is a truly magnicifent space and the museum building is beyond words. While it was a true team effort, Mrs. Barrow was and is certainly instrumental in making this great memorial what it is today.