Henry Towle of South Portland, Maine, was elected Commander- in-Chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War at the 61st National Encampment held in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 15-17, 1942. He was the second Commander-in-Chief to serve from the Department of Maine, the first having been Frank P. Merrill 59 years earlier.
Henry Towle was born in Portland, Maine, on November 27, 1874, son of Daniel H. and Julia (Sawyer) Towle. His father had been a private in Co. H, 5th Maine Infantry. Henry attended Portland schools and lived in Portland and South Portland all his life. For many years he was clerk for the J. Harris Pierce Co., later was local freight agent for Maine Coast Transportation Co. and was Sealer of Weights and Measures in South Portland for more than 20 years.
An active worker in civic affairs, he was a Past President and life member of the South Portland Kiwanis Club and an honorary member of the Marine Corps Recruiting Service.
Brother Towle joined George Shepley Camp 4, Portland, in 1893 and had served as its Camp Commander. At the 56th Annual Encampment of the Department of Maine held in 1938, Brother Towle was elected as Department Commander, having served the Department as Senior Vice Commander, Junior Vice Commander, and Department Inspector in the years prior. He continued to serve the Department as Council Member, Chief- of-Staff, Counselor, and trustee of the Department’s Collection of History and Relics in the following years.
Maine’s Past Department Commander was elected as National Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief in 1941, succeeding to election as Commander-in-Chief in the following year. Past Commander-inChief (PCinC) Towle also had served as a Vice Commander of the New England Regional Association, S.U.V.C.W.
After the death of Maine’s last Civil War veteran in 1947 and the ultimate demise of the G.A.R. in Maine, PCinC Towle served as acting secretary, Maine Department, Grand Army of the Republic; secretary and clerk of corporation of Bosworth Post No. 2, G.A.R., Portland; treasurer of the Bosworth Memorial Association; and secretary of the G.A.R. Memorial Commission, Portland.
In the spring of 1960 he was named to the Advisory Committee of the Civil War Centennial Committee in Washington, D.C., which was created to commemorate the Civil War anniversary in 1961-1965. Unfortunately, PCinC Towle’s work with this committee was cut short by his death on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 1960, following a brief illness, just shy of his 86th birthday.
He had been predeceased by his wife, the former Augusta S. Griffin of Lubec, Maine, who had died in 1927 and with whom he had been married since October 7, 1893. At the time of his death Brother Towle was survived by a son, Henry E. Towle of Littleton, Mass., and a daughter, Mrs. Robert P. Barrows of Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
PCinC Henry Towle was laid to rest in Highland Memorial Gardens, South Portland.
Eric Boothroyd, P.C.C.
Department of Maine
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Portland Press Herald, November 12, 1960
Annual Encampment Proceedings of the Dept. of Maine, S.U.V.C.W.
Burial at Highland Memorial Gardens, South Portland, Cumberland, Maine