Mrs. Alexander S. (Mary Ann Lamar Cobb) Erwin of Athens, Georgia, conceived the idea of the United Daughters of the Confederacy bestowing the Southern Cross of Honor on the Confederate Veteran while attending a reunion of Confederate veterans in Atlanta, Georgia, in July of 1898.
Mrs. Erwin and Mrs. Sarah E. Gabbett of Atlanta are credited with the design of the Cross. The design was the Maltese Cross with a wreath of laurel surrounding the words "Deo Vindice (God our Vindicator) 1861-1865" and the inscription, "Southern Cross of Honor" on the face. On the reverse side is a Confederate Battle Flag surrounded by a laurel wreath and the words "United Daughters of the Confederacy to the UCV." Mr. Charles W. Crankshaw of Atlanta was chosen to manufacture the Crosses, but the first order was not given until the UDC secured a copyright on February 20, 1900. During the first eighteen months of the Cross' availability, 12,500 were ordered and delivered.
Only a Confederate veteran could wear the Southern Cross of Honor, and it could only be bestowed through the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Money could not buy the Cross; they were bought by loyal, honorable service to the South and were given in recognition of this devotion. The first Cross ever bestowed was upon Mrs. Erwin’s husband, Captain Alexander S. Erwin, by the Athens Chapter, Athens, Georgia, on April 26, 1900.
The Crosses of Military Service and Medals currently awarded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy are an outgrowth of the Southern Cross of Honor. These Crosses and Medals are awarded to veterans who have served or are serving in defense of America. They are the most prized awards conferred by the UDC.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy presents complete sets of the Crosses to libraries and museums if they agree to display the sets. The Southern Cross of Honor is always included if it is available. Should someone owning a Southern Cross of Honor wish to donate it to the UDC it can be included in a set to be presented to a museum or library. If you have such a Cross and wish to donate it, please contact the UDC Business Office.
The UDC Business Office does not have applications for the Southern Cross of Honor; however, it does have ledgers compiled by Mrs. Anna Davenport Raines during her seven-year term as Custodian of Crosses of Honor. Mrs. Raines recorded every recipient of the Cross bestowed, beginning with Number One, until she resigned in 1913, for a total of 78,761 Crosses, and the ledgers provide the name and unit of the recipient. They may identify the date and place of the award. An accumulative index was developed by the Caroline Meriwether Goodlett Library Committee in the 1980s to cross reference the information contained in the ledgers.
To request confirmation about the bestowal of a Southern Cross of Honor between 1900 and 1913, and/or if there is any information available for subsequent years, please send name of the veteran and the unit in which he served, a check made payable to "Treasurer General UDC" in the amount of $5.00 per name, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
UDC Memorial Building
Southern Cross of Honor Research
328 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220-4057
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