Jordan Milburn, a 12-year-old Junior Member of Henry Casey Camp No. 92 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), received the organization’s prestigious John L. Clem Award during the 140th National Encampment (convention) held in St. Louis, Missouri.
The award is given to the SUVCW’s most outstanding junior member. He is also a private in Company C, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR). The SVR is the uniformed military department of the SUVCW.
Jordan has traveled to every National Encampment since the age of 4. He has been to the following Battlefields: Winchester, Antietam, Nashville, Franklin, Shiloh, Corinth, Kennesaw Mountain, Kernstown and Gettysburg. After a National Encampment in Marietta, Georgia Jordan took a small hike up Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia before starting out on Sherman’s March to the Sea, which ended with a visit to General William T. Sherman’s headquarters in Savannah. Jordan has been to every Memorial Day service the Camp has participated in since 2012.
Jordan Milburn’s father, Shane L. Milburn, was one of four candidates seeking a three-year term on the SUVCW National Council of Administration (Board of Directors). Only two seats on the Council were up for election. Milburn and Joe Hall from Massachusetts were elected. Shane Milburn is the secretary of Henry Casey Camp and a Past Commander of the Ohio Department SUVCW. He is also commander of Company C, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry SVR and adjutant of the SVR Third Military District.
The award is named in honor of John L. Clem who, during the Civil War at the age of 10, ran away from his Newark, Ohio home following the death of his father. The 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment was passing through Newark and Johnny Clem tagged along as a drummer boy. The members of the regiment collected money to pay Clem a monthly stipend of $13 which was the pay rate for an army private.
When Clem reached the age of 12, the army let him enlist in June, 1863. He carried a musket that had been sawed off especially for his size. He shot a Confederate Colonel who had ordered him to surrender. He was later wounded and taken prisoner for a short time.
Newspaper coverage of Clem’s activities turned him into the Drummer Boy of Chickamauga and made him a national celebrity. The army took advantage of the national publicity and promoted Clem to the rank of sergeant. He was only 12 years old. He still holds the record of being the youngest non-commissioned officer in the history of the army.
After the war, in 1870, President U. S. Grant offered him an appointment to West Point Military Academy, but he failed the entrance test. President Grant ignored the test results and commissioned him a 2nd Lieutenant and he remained in the army until 1915 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 64. He was a full colonel by that time and the last active-duty Civil War veteran.
Following the custom of that time to promote retiring colonels to the rank of brigadier general, Johnny Clem, the Drummer Boy of Chickamauga, became a brigadier general in 1916. A year after his retirement, by a special Act of the Congress, he was promoted to the rank of major general.