Camp #581 History & John M. Jordan

By Douglas W. Powell, Past Adjutant

“In the course of time the organization of Confederate Veterans will cease to exist, for the ranks of the ‘old boys who wore the gray’ are fast thinning out, and in thirty years more, nearly all will have crossed the river; and to their sons and grandsons must be committed for preservation, the old records and relics, and this trust we should gladly and willingly accept, as well as cultivate the ties of friendship that ought to exist between all whose ancestors have together shared the privations, dangers and sufferings of such a conflict as took place in the trying days of war for Southern Independence.”

That charge, which has become the John M. Jordan Camp’s own charge, was issued in a 20 May 1908 letter to “Mr. Editor” from Samuel L. Adams of the Cluster Springs community and was published the next day in the local Halifax Gazette newspaper. It announced a meeting to be held “at Houston (present day Halifax, the county seat) next Monday” to form a United Confederate Sons of Veterans Camp in Halifax County. That meeting resulted in the selection of officers and in the naming of the new camp the “John M. Jordan Camp.”

Then with the following news, published in the Halifax Gazette on 11 June, the new camp of United Sons of Confederate Veterans was on its way to being an active local organization.

Headquarters John M. Jordan Camp

  • United Sons C. V.
  • South Boston, Va., June 9th
  • Special Order No. 1

This camp will meet in regular monthly business session at Edmondson’s Warehouse, So. Boston, Va., at 2:30 p. m. Monday, June 15th, 1908. It is especially desired that all the sons of Confederate veterans throughout the county of Halifax will attend this, our regular meeting. Both those who have already joined the camp, and those who contemplate doing so, are cordially invited to meet with us. We want every son of a Confederate veteran in Halifax county to become a member of this camp. By order

  • E. N. Hardy, Com’dr,
  • S. L. Adams, Adjt.

A week later the newspaper reported on the meeting and noted that “More than forty have joined . . . .” It also reported that a committee had been appointed to assist in the raising of funds for the [Confederate] monument and another to work with the local veterans camp and UDC chapter “to further the monument proposition.” That monument, dedicated in 1911, is still located on the courthouse square in Halifax.

The Halifax Gazette on 23 July 1908, published an article showing the the close relationship the sons camp had with the veterans camp. Order #25 by Commander E. N. Hardy and Adjutant Henry Easley announced the meeting of the “Halifax County C. V.” at 11 a. m. on Monday, 21 September. Next, Order #4 from S. L. Adams, Adjutant, and E. N. Hardy, Commander, announced the meeting of the United SCV camp that same day, but at 2 p. m. (It was the practice in the early days of new USCV camps that the commander of the veterans camp became the first commander of the sons camp.)

The John M. Jordan Camp #581, United Sons of Confederate Veterans received its charter on 8 August 1908, and soon became involved in the saving of the local Staunton River Battlefield. (The word “United” was dropped by the SCV in 1912.) The last local active Confederate veteran died in 1938 and sometime afterwards interest waned and the local SCV camp ceased to continue.

But on 24 February 2003 an organizational meeting was held in Halifax to recharter the camp. At that meeting $500 was collected to qualify the camp as a sponsor of the new Halifax County War Memorial project. Monthly meetings began immediately and a new charter was issued to the camp on 15 September containing the original camp name and number. In ceremonies in South Boston the following month, officers were installed and the new charter of the John M. Jordan Camp #581, Sons of Confederate Veterans, was presented to Camp Commander, Tom Ward, by Bragdon Bowling, Commander of the Virginia Division, SCV.

Following the dedication of the War Memorial in Halifax in May 2003, the John M. Jordan Camp has annually sponsored a multi-organizational Memorial Day commemoration there. Included in Halifax County’s 752 deaths in all American wars listed on that memorial, are the names of 500 county residents who died in the War Between the States.

John M. Jordan

The John M. Jordan Camp #581 Camp, SCV, located in Halifax County, Virginia was named in honor of Lieut. John M. Jordan of Company C, 3rd Regiment, Virginia Cavalry.

John was the second son of Elijah Jordan of the Black Walnut (now Cluster Springs) community of Halifax County. Elijah had eight children including sons, Robert Elijah Jordan, John M. Jordan, Joseph E. Jordan, William Isaac Jordan, Clement H. Jordan and Samuel H. Jordan. In that same community, an older John Jordan also had two sons, Edward Hammet Jordan and Robert T. Jordan. All the sons of both men, as well as Elijah, served during the War Between the States.

As the war began the first to enlist was Clement, a 19-year old clerk, when in April 1861 he joined Capt. Clairborne’s Company, 18th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers, also known as the “Danville Greys.” Soon the “Black Walnut Dragoons” was organized in Halifax County as Capt. William H. Easley’s Company of Cavalry, with 83 men enlisting on 20 May 1861. That unit would become Company C, 3rd Regiment, Virginia Cavalry. 

Enlisting in that same company were five of the young Jordan men, three of Elijah’s sons, John, Joseph and William, as well as both of John’s sons, Edward and Thomas. Only Elijah’s oldest son, 32-year old Robert Elijah and young Samuel at age 14 remained home. Before the war was over Robert Elijah Jordan would be drafted and assigned to his brother’s cavalry company, and young Samuel Jordan appears in the 44th Battalion, Virginia Infantry. Even Elijah Jordan, the father, served in the 1st Virginia Reserves and in the Battle of Staunton River Bridge.

John M. Jordan was mustered into service in May 1861. He was elected as a 3rd Lieutenant in 1863 and was wounded at Yellow Tavern in May 1864, the same date and place that Jeb Stuart received his mortal wound.

General Robert E. Lee sent some of his cavalry, including the 3rd Virginia Cavalry, to the Shenandoah Valley to aid General Jubal Early that summer. Lt. Jordan had his bay horse killed in action at Front Royal on 16 August. Soon he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 23 September.

After Captain John A. Chappell was killed at Winchester later that month, Lt. Jordan found himself in command of the cavalry company until the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on 9 April 1865, when he was paroled.

The Halifax Gazette in its 7 April 1904 issue reported that “Mr. John M. Jordan who has been ill nearly all winter, was in the streets several days this week, although he complains right much.” Based on his reported age in the 1850 census, military records, and other sources he died in about June 1904.

Lieut. Jordan is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston. His tombstone shows no date of birth or death, but was engraved “Lieut. John M. Jordan, Aged 70 years, Co. C, 3 Va. Va. CSA.”