1916 Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans

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The reunion parade rounds the newly-completed Louis Saks Clothiers department store at 19th Street and 2nd Avenue North

The 1916 Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans was a city-wide event to honor the service of Confederate veterans of the Civil War and the 26th annual meeting of the United Confederate Veterans organization. It was the third and last national reunion to be held in Birmingham. Thousands of veterans came to the city from Tuesday May 16 to Thursday May 18, 1916 to reminisce, enjoy planned entertainments and be feted by the citizens of the city.

Four thousand veterans slept in cots loaned to the city by the federal government and placed indoors at the Alabama State Fairgrounds. A commissary was provided to serve meals to guests and daily concerts were performed nearby. The fairgrounds also hosted a mock battle as the grand finale of the week's events. It was played out by a company of the Alabama National Guard in Union blue against a company of Confederate Grays from Fort Worth, Texas. The grays won the day.

Downtown, General Charles W. Hooper led a huge parade for 15 blocks under gray skies. In addition to the assembled veterans marching with their companies, the parade featured cars carrying the sponsors and maids from each state, dignitaries from various organizations, fifteen bands and large groups of school children who serenaded the crowds with patriotic songs and waved Confederate flags. Also a large group of "Ku-Klux" paraded in full costume on horseback, a harbinger of the imminent re-emergence of the secret organization. Hundreds of Boy Scouts throughout the city acted as helpers, rendering every available assistance to the aging veterans in town.

The reunion headquarters was housed in the Chamber of Commerce Building with general sessions in the Bijou Theater. General Bennett Young, Commander in Chief of the UCV, held court at the Tutwiler Hotel. Miss Gladys Kernan of New Orleans was appointed "Sponsor for the South" for the event, while the various states sent their own young sponsors. In addition to the United Confederate Veterans, the event hosted meetings of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Confederated Southern Memorial Association. Actor Henry Walthall was a special guest of the reunion. Other events took place around the Confederate Memorial at Capitol Park, where Kentucky's "Orphan Brigade" was encamped.

Visitors arriving at the convention hall were entertained by Southern airs performed by Memoli's Band. Mayor George Ward and other leaders addressed the assembly. Irvin Cobb delivered the principal address. During the week's proceedings the UCV reaffirmed its oath of "unfaltering allegiance to the government of the United States in this its hour of great international difficulties" and made an official recommendation that every male sixteen years old or older be required to report to the probate judge of his county and swear loyalty to the United States. Brigadier General George Harrison was elected to succeed Young as Commander of the United Confederate Veterans and plans were made to hold the 27th annual reunion in Washington, D. C. at the invitation of Hilary Herbert.

Blach's department store advertised in anticipation of the event that "for the coming Reunion you will probably need a new, correct uniform," offering the "Grey Potomac Special" manufactured by Levy Bros. of Louisville, Kentucky with regulation UCV buttons for $9.50. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad offered special round-trip fares to veterans. Printed muslin Confederate battle flags on sticks were offered by Meyer's Military Shops of Washington D. C. for 25¢ per dozen. The Jefferson Theatre offered a revival of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" (which had its Birmingham premiere there a year earlier).

See also


  • Confederate Veteran (May 1916), Vol. XXIV, No. 5
  • Confederate Veteran (June 1916), Vol. XXIV, No. 6