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John T.Crawford Camp 43 Information

Robert Bowser, Commander


The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is a patriotic and educational organization, similar to the Grand Army of the Republic, founded in 1881, and incorporated by Act of Congress, approved August 20, 1954.

The 78th Regiment that trained at Camp Orr in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

      "To perpetuate the Memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the men who saved the Union in 1861 to 1865, to assist in every way practical in the preservation and making available for research of documents pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic and its members; to cooperate in doing honor to all of those who have patriotically served our country in any way; to teach patriotism and the duties of citizenship, the true history of our country, and the love and honor of our flag; to oppose every tendency or movement to weaken loyalty to, or make for the destruction or impairment of, our Constitutional Union; and to Inculate and broadly sustain the American principles of representative government, or equal rights and of impartial justice for all."

      The local Camp, known as the John T. Crawford Camp #43, was originally formed in 1904, and was named in honor of Major John T. Crawford, a former attorney and physician, who enlisted in the 63rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He was soon promoted to Brigade Surgeon. While tending to his wounded men in Virginia, Major Crawford contracted typhoid fever, and was sent home to recuperate in May 1862. After returning home, the disease worsened, and on June 7, 1862, he died from its effects.

      His wife, Sarah Colwell Crawford, for whom the Auxiliary is named, never remarried, and remained in Kittanning until her death in 1912. She received a widow's pension of $25.00 per month. Both she and her husband are buried in Kittanning Cemetery.

      The Camp phased out of existence in 1936, when membership dwindled, due to the deaths of many members and the lack of interest of the next generation. The Auxiliary, however, remained functional until the mid 1950's, when it too lost its charter.

      Both the Camp and Auxiliary began reformation activities in 1989, and both were re-chartered in 1990. Both groups are quite active in numerous activities, including parades, grave dedications, and Memorial Day services throughout the area.

Camp Orr, an important location in Armstrong County Civil War history, is being preserved due to the efforts of the Camp.

       The group also conducts Civil War era fashion shows and participates in Civil War history presentations with local schools. Recognizing the importance of preserving history, the group supports the "Friends of Soldiers and Sailors Hall" in Pittsburgh. The first project the group initiated was to erect a memorial to all Armstrong County Civil War Veterans in Kittanning's Riverfront Park. This was accomplished in 1989, even before they had received their charter. In 1993 the group dedicated a memorial monument to Camp Orr, Armstrong County's only training camp for the Civil War, along N. Water Street in the Kittanning Borough. The group was also active in the recent restoration of the Parrott Cannon in Evergreen Cemetery in Leechburg, PA. Through Research, the group has placed headstones on approximately 100 graves of Civil War soldiers, with more planned for the future. We have also conducted re-dedication services at numerous grave sites. A database of over 2100 names and locations of Civil War Veterans' graves in Armstrong County is also maintained by the organization. The group has republished several books on Armstrong County's Civil War history with more projects planned for the future as funds become available. 

Three Civil War Veterans in the Leechburg Cemetery on Decoration Day in 1918 or 1920. The gentleman with the long white beard is said to be William Shaner, the man behind him Samuel Bole. The gentleman standing is only thought to be Joseph Kelly, but it is not known for sure. World War I Veterans can be seen in the background.


Grave Registration Project

     The goal and purpose of this project is to locate and record every Civil War Soldiers' grave site in Armstrong County. We currently maintain a database of over 2100 names and grave sites located in the area. When completed, this list will be added to a national database of Civil War soldiers.  In addition to creating an inventory of grave sites, our unit, under the guide of Grave Registration Officer Richard Essenwein, has placed over 100 new headstones in local cemeteries. In numerous cases, or at the request of the family, grave rededication ceremonies have been conducted. There is no charge for this service, although donations are accepted.  For further information on this program, to volunteer in the recording of the grave sites, or to request a new headstone or rededication service, please contact the Grave Registration Officer at (724)664-2424, or by Email.

The Camp participates in many grave dedications throughout the area.

School Program

     Let us bring history alive by allowing children to see, feel, and hear about this period of American History. The John T. Crawford Camp #43 is available for school programs teaching the Civil War. Dealing with various aspects of the Civil War, stations that may be offered are Soldier's Life, music, genealogy, artifacts, weaponry, local units' service, drilling, as well as several others. All presenters come in authentic period dress. Programs may be customized to budget or teacher requests. Number of stations is subject to member availability. For further information, or to check date availability, please contact Richard Essenwein.


Teaching about the Civil War with the Camp can be quite the learning experience.

Other Sites of Information about the SUVCW:

The Department of Pennsylvania

The Web page of the Pennsylvania Department SUVCW.

The SUVCW's National Website:
The SUVCW's official website.

A Civil War Camp

Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War
John T. Crawford Camp #43
Sarah A. Crawford Auxiliary
1990 - 2012


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