The organization of camps of Sons of Confederate Veterans in North Carolina predates the formation of the national confederation. Of the twenty-three camps present at the organizational meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Richmond, Virginia, on June 30th and July 1st, 1896, three were from North Carolina. This participation was exceeded only by Virginia, the host state, and equaled by Georgia. South Carolina was represented by two camps and Alabama one. The three pioneer camps were the George Davis Camp No. 5, Johnston Pettigrew Camp No. 15, and Henry L. Wyatt Camp No. 17.
In spite of this rather auspicious beginning, the organization did not immediately flourish in our state. Most of the camps founded in the late 1890s and the early 1900s seemed to have remained active for at most one year.
The first signs of a resurgence in the Sons of Confederate Veterans in North Carolina seems to have come during the 1920s. By 1926, the Division had 715 members in 41 active camps.
The 1929 Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Forrest Cavalry, and the Southern Confederate Memorial Association was held in Charlotte on June 4th through 7th. During the preparation for the reunion, reports indicate that a number of camps around the state were revived, and new camps were formed. However, it is doubtful that any of these survived for more than three or four years.
By 1961, the North Carolina Division was defunct. That year Commander R. L. Walker started a reorganization drive due to the absence of North Carolina representation at the joint reunion in Richmond.
Division Commander R. L. Walker founded the Capt. M. W. Norfleet Camp No. 1249 in Winston-Salem in 1961 which reactivated the North Carolina Division. The first state convention in recent times was held in Winston-Salem on May 10, 1969. By 1971, there were five active camps in North Carolina. The Asheville Camp No. 15 hosted the 1979 National Reunion. But, the Division had only six camps by 1980 as several camps started and then disbanded. But, the Division hosted the 1985 National Reunion in Raleigh on August 7th through 10th.
The year 1986 marked the beginning of the present-day North Carolina Division. The Division had 11 camps and 485 members at the end of the year. The Carolina Confederate was established as the new Division publication which would be sent out quarterly on a regular schedule and be mailed to all members of the Division.
The reorganization of the Division began to take effect almost immediately and began to show results in a wave of new camps. In just three years, North Carolina had 26 camps and 1,134 members. Most of this growth can be attributed to the efforts of Division Commander Byron Brady. While serving one term as adjutant and two terms as commander, the Division grew to 1,450 members in 45 camps by May 1992. During this time period, the Division Public Relations Committee was established, Confederate Flag Day was adopted and celebrated every year, Confederate Memorial Weekend was established in conjunction with our annual Division Convention, the General Longstreet Memorial Fund was organized, and the Division booth at the North Carolina State Fair was started.
Under the leadership of Commander Frank Powell, the North Carolina Division had 2,769 members in 75 camps from the mountains to the sea. The Carolina Confederate was expanded to bi-monthly and judged best in the Confederation two consecutive years. In 1994, the Division led the fight to defeat a proposed monument to honor General Sherman’s men at the Bentonville Battlefield. In September, 1995, the Division sponsored its first reenactment, Echoes of Dixie.
In the decade since 1998 the North Carolina Division has advanced in many areas. It has grown from 4 to 12 Brigades and now is at the point of having 96 camps with new camps being formed as you read this. Membership has risen to nearly 3,000.
Soon after the turn of this Century a time of contention began when a few who had risen to leadership posts tried to bully the membership into making the Division “Politically Correct”. Their efforts failed and in 2002 the members elected Brian Carawan as Division Commander. Under his administration, the “Political Correct” movement leaders were given leave to follow their path elsewhere. Commander Carawan will long be remembered as the North Carolina “David” who slew the scalawag “Goliath”.
In 2004 the members overwhelmingly elected Bruce Tyson, of Fayetteville, to lead as Division Commander. He immediately set about restoring the bonds of fraternity and adding new members and camps.
Today, the North Carolina Division is a vibrant growing organization of men who contribute much to the civic affairs of their communities.