Joe Daugherty, Commander of Henry Casey Camp 92 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), conducted a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the grave site of Civil War Brigadier General James W. Denver, who is buried in the Sugar Grove Cemetery.
Daugherty read the now famous General Order No. 11 issued May 5, 1868 by Civil War General John Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), directing all members of the GAR to decorate the graves of Civil War veterans on May 30.
That order resulted in the annual decorating of veterans’ graves with flowers and May 30 became known as Decoration Day. In 1971 the U. S.Congress changed the name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day to honor all deceased military veterans. They also moved the date from May 30 to the last Monday in May.
Members of Henry Casey Camp 92 also placed Memorial Day wreaths at the grave sites of Civil War Brigadier General Azariah W. Doan at Sugar Grove Cemetery and Clinton County’s last surviving Civil War veteran, Thomas Benton Baldwin at the I.O.O.F Cemetery in Blanchester.
General Denver is one of the most interesting and fascinating persons to live in Clinton County. He arrived in Wilmington, from Virginia with his parents at age 13. Before the Civil War he served with General Winfield Scott as a Captain in the Mexican War.
Following that war, he went to California. He killed a newspaper editor in a dual in 1852 and shortly after that was elected to the California State Senate. He was soon appointed Secretary of the State of California and in 1855 he was elected as a California Representative to the United States Congress.
In 1857 President James Buchanan appointed Denver Commissioner of Indian Affairs. A few weeks later he was appointed Governor of the Kansas Territory which included what is now the State of Colorado. In 1858 shortly before he retired from being Governor a land speculator created a new town in what is now Colorado and named it Denver hoping to get Governor Denver to select it as the county seat of Arapaho County.
Following his resignation as territorial governor, Denver was reappointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs and in 1861 at the start of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln commissioned him a Brigadier General and placed him in command of all Federal troops in Kansas. General Denver was soon commanded a brigade in General William T. Sherman’s Army and served with distinction until he resigned his commission in 1863.
After the Civil War, Gen. Denver practiced law in Wilmington and in Washington, D. C. In 1876, 1880 and 1884 he served as a delegate to the Democrat Party National Convention and in 1876 and 1884 some members of the Democrat Party thought he should be considered for the party’s presidential nomination.
Gen. James Denver and his wife, Louise Catherine Rombach, had two sons and two daughters. His son Matthew Denver served from Ohio in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Gen. Denver died in Washington, D. C. on Aug. 9, 1892 at 74 and was buried in Sugar Grove Cemetery.
In 2006 Gen. Denver and Clinton County resident Robert E. Grim, a U. S. Air Force Vietnam War veteran, and past National Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
In 2010 Civil War General Azariah Doan was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Three other veterans from Clinton County are in the Veterans Hall of Fame. As Civil War Medal of Honor recipients, Thomas Guinn and Jonathan C. Kirk are charter members.
The latest veteran to be inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame was U. S Navy Vietnam War veteran Paul G. Butler in 2020.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is a Congressionally chartered organization created in 1881 by the GAR and is the legal heir to the GAR charged with perpetuating the heritage of the GAR. The Henry Casey Camp meets at the American Legion Post in Wilmington and membership is open to descendants of Union Civil War veterans. The Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR) is the uniformed Military Department of the SUVCW.
Those interested in more information about the SUVCW should contact Kelly Hopkins, Junior Vice Commander of Henry Casey Camp, at firstname.lastname@example.org.