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Freemasons who played a role at Gettysburg

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by M E Wolf, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

    Feb 9, 2008
    Dear List Members;

    In honor of my grandfather-a Member of the George Washington Masonic Lodge; Alexandria, Virginia- Knights Templer--I offer this interesting historical view.

    Masons who played key roles at the Battle of Gettysburg​
    Winfield Scott Hancock
    Born February 14, 1824 in Montgomery Square near Norristown, Pennsylvania. West Point class of 1840, graduated 18th out of 25, at age 20. Served in Mexican and Seminole Wars and Utah (Mormon) Expedition. Chief Quartermaster in Los Angeles, California. Civil War Brigadier (1 star) and Major (2 star) General. Wounded severely at the Battle of Gettysburg. Considered one of the best Union generals. After the Civil War served in the U.S. Army, later Democratic candidate for President of the U.S. in 1880. Died February 9, 1886, at Governor’s Island, New York. Buried in Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, Pennsylvania.
    Member of Charity Lodge #190, Norristown, Pennsylvania, Royal Arch Mason, #90, and Hutchison Commandery, Knights Templar #22.
    Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
    Born September 8, 1828 in Brewer, Maine. College Professor at Bowdoin College, Maine; spoke 7 languages. Lieutenant Colonel and later Colonel of the 20th Maine Regiment, later Brigadier (1 star) and Major (2 star) General. Wounded 6 times during the Civil War. Hero of Little Round Top, for which he received the Medal of Honor. At Appomattox he was the General who received the formal surrender of the Confederate Army, from Major General John B. Gordon, a fellow Freemason. After the War, Chamberlain was elected Governor of Maine 3 times, later President of Bowdoin College, a businessman and author. Died February 24, 1914. Buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Brunswick, Maine. There is a museum about him in Brunswick.
    Member of United Lodge #8 in Brunswick, Maine.
    Lewis Addison Armistead
    Born February 18, 1817, in New Bern, North Carolina. Came from a military family; his uncle commanded Fort McHenry during the British bombardment in the War of 1812 which inspired the Star Spangled Banner. Attended West Point 1833, 1834-1836, but resigned. Served in the Mexican War where he was twice awarded for bravery. He was serving in California with Winfield Scott Hancock when the Civil War began, and he resigned to travel cross country to join the Confederate forces. Colonel and later Brigadier (1 star) General. Died July 5, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
    Member of Alexandria-Washington Lodge #22 in Virginia. Charter member of Union Lodge 37 in Fort Riley, Kansas.
    Other Freemasons who played significant roles at the Battle of Gettysburg:
    Captain Henry H. Bingham, Chartiers Lodge #297, Cannonsburg PA, Life Member of Union Lodge #121 in Philadelphia. Received the Medal of Honor. Elected to Congress in 1878, where he served 33 years and was one of the leaders of Congress. Died March 24, 1912, in Philadelphia, aged 70. Buried in North Laurel Hills Cemetery, Philadelphia.
    Major General Henry Heth, Senior Warden of Rocky Mountain Lodge #205 in Utah Territory. Very close friend of Robert E. Lee. Military career, severely wounded at Gettysburg but survived. After the War he started an insurance business in Richmond. Died in 1899, age 73. Buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
    Brigadier General Solomon Meredith. Commander of the "Iron Brigade," also called the "Black Hat Brigade." Born May 29, 1810 in Guilford County, Virginia. Had 3 sons in the Union Army, 2 of whom were killed. After the War he was surveyor general of the Montana Territory. Member of Cambridge Lodge #105, Indianapolis, Indiana.
    Brigadier General Alfred Iverson. Columbian Lodge #108, Columbus, Georgia. His father was a U.S. Senator from Georgia before the War. After the War he was a businessman in Georgia and later an orange grower in Kissimmee, Florida. Died in 1911, age 82.
    Major General Carl Schurz. Born March 2, 1828, in Cologne, Prussia. Very well educated, but left Europe after he supported failed revolutions. Prominent politician in the U.S., supported Lincoln’s election in 1860, and a leader of the German-American community. Given a Generalship to command the large number of Germans in the Union Army. Did not have a distinguished career in the Civil War. After the War we supported equal rights for Blacks, Ambassador to Spain, U.S. Senator from Missouri, and Secretary of the Interior. Died in 1906 in New York City, where a park is named for him. Member of Herman Lodge #125 in Philadelphia.
    Brigadier General John B. Gordon. Born February 6, 1832 in Upson County, Georgia. Attended University of Georgia and trained in law. At the Battle of Antietam he was wounded so severely in the head that only a bullet hole in his hat prevented him from drowning in his own blood. Wounded 8 times. After the War he was elected U.S. Senator from Georgia 3 times, later Governor of Georgia. Member of Gate City Lodge #2 in Atlanta.
    Brigadier General George T. "Tige" Anderson. Left college in Georgia to enter the Mexican War. Severely wounded in Gettysburg. After the War he was a railroad freight agent and then police chief in Anniston, Georgia. He was a Freemason, but details are not known.
    Brigadier General John H.H. Ward. Born in New York City in 1823. Fought in many Civil War battles, but removed from the Army in 1864 for misbehavior and intoxication in the face of the enemy. This was disputed for 30 years, and never settled. After the War he served as clerk of courts in New York. In 1903 while vacationing in Monroe, New York, he was run over by a train and killed. Became a Mason in Metropolitan Lodge #273, New York City, f1855. Royal Arch Mason, Commandery, Shriner, Active 33rd degree in the AASR, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
    Brigadier General Rufus Ingalls - Williamette Lodge #2 Oregon
    Brigadier General Joseph B. Kershaw - Kershaw Lodge #29 South Carolina
    Brigadier General Alfred T.A. Torbert - Temple Chapter #2 Delaware
    Brigadier General William Barksdale - Columbus Lodge #5, Columbus, Mississippi
    Major General David B. Birney - Franklin Lodge #134 Pennsylvania
    Brigadier General Harry T. Hays - Louisiana Lodge #102 Louisiana
    Major General Daniel Butterfield - Metropolitan Lodge #273 New York
    Brigadier General John W. Geary - Philanthropy Lodge #255 Pennsylvania
    Major General Alfred Pleasonton - Franklin Lodge #134 Pennsylvania
    Brigadier General George J. Stannard - Franklin Lodge #4 Vermont
    Brigadier General James L. Kemper - Linn Banks Lodge #126 (PM) Virginia
    Major General George E. Pickett - Dove Lodge #51 Virginia
    Brigadier General John D. Imboden - Staunton Lodge #13 Virginia.

    "The 'Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial,' at Gettysburg will help demonstrate to the world that Freemasonry is, indeed, a unique fraternity; that its bonds of friendship, compassion and brotherly love withstood the ultimate test during the most tragic and decisive period of our nation's history; it stood then as it stands now, as 'A Brotherhood Undivided!'"

    M. E. Wolf

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  3. MasonicCav

    MasonicCav Cadet

    Jun 9, 2008
    Lancaster, PA
    Nice, You may want to read "Freemasons at Gettysburg" by Sheldon Munn. He spoke at one of my meetings last year in lodge and was VERY learned about the subject.

    Its a small paperback but well worth the information. They should still have copies at the visitors center, or the Farnsworth House in Gettysburg.
  4. 5fish

    5fish 1st Lieutenant

    Aug 26, 2007
    Central Florida

    I am surprised by the number of Southerns on the list of Freemasons'. The southern churches since the early 1800's have bemoaned the evils of this secretive organization.... the churches have never named what was evil about the organization except their secretiveness.
  5. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Feb 20, 2005
    Near Kankakee
    I'm a bit perplexed, here. Did the Masons contribute more to the war effort than the Sons of the Golden Circle or the Golden Knights? Seems a bit off topic and rather minor, but there is the nagging idea that there might be something in there.

  6. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

    Feb 9, 2008
    Dear Ole,

    I would have to ask MasonicCav; as I am not a Freemason. My grandfather was associated with the Knights Templer; as he was Protestant. His uniform has a small cross on the cuff and do have his sword; which mirrors the Civil War's medical sword in many ways.

    If it needs to be further researched, I suppose when I have a good while to myself; I can go to the Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Virginia where grandfather attended the setting of the corner stone on the past sight of Ft. Ellsworth. One can still see the fort's outline from it's upper floors.

    My grandfather was friends with John Philip Sousa and my father recalls meeting 'The March King;' who was a brother Mason in the same commandry with my grandfather.

    What we fear, is what we do not understand.

    I am sure like the Amish, Indians, Masons, etc., what one does not understand or know; could produce a bias/prejudices -- and fear.

    Just some thoughts.

    Respectfully submitted for consideration,
    M. E. Wolf
  7. timewalker

    timewalker Cadet

    Jan 7, 2008
    Flower Mound, Texas
    While the Masons were clearly the largest and most organized, it appears to me that "secret" societies abounded in that period. We still have the Knights of Pythias Hall in Fort Worth (although it is now a jewelry store). I had never heard of them until seeing the building, but they are apparently still around.

    It cannot be disputed that the masons have had an important impact on the country, as many of the Founding Fathers were masons, but I am starting to tire of the various conspiracy theories/secret histories/etc. which are polluting the History Channel, especially in the wake of the DaVinci Code.
  8. MasonicCav

    MasonicCav Cadet

    Jun 9, 2008
    Lancaster, PA
    Golden Circle

    Many people have tried to draw a relationship with Freemasonry and the host of subversive societies that seemed to have sprung up after the demise of the rebellion. A host of conspiracy theories exist that Freemasonry was linked to the Knights of the Golden Circle or even the Klu Klux Klan.

    These are simply not true. While there may have been confederate freemasons involved in those organizations, none of them were given rise to, nor supported by the masonic fraternity. Plus freemasonry even at its beginning was and still is a VERY patriotic organization,and takes pride in the fact that many founding fathers were supporters of freemasonry.

    Freemasonry's "influence" in the American Civil War was purley fraternal and binding in the most non-threatening sense. Many Union and Confederate soldiers, officers, and men were members of the fraternity and as such would hold lodge meetings under a flag of truce or bury a deceased member with masonic honors on the battlefield (Read: Befriend and Relieve Every Brother: Freemasonry During Wartime).

    Freemasonry then as it is today is a gentlemans organization, and many members were the first to show amnesty to captured enemy prisoners. As a result of this witnessed unsolicited generosisty many soldiers after the war joined freemasonry, and the fraternity enjoyed a small membership boom for about 10-20 years after the war.This would only happen again after WWII.

    That is really all the influence freemasonry had during the war. They were told to fight for thier home, and like good soldiers they did. But when the time came for them to be Freemasons and Gentlemen they answered the call admirably.

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