The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasons in the American Civil War

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Samuel.Sohm

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasons in the American Civil War
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0817316957/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

Summary: Many incidents of kindness are found in the annals of regimental histories, official records, memoirs, and post war reminisces of the men who fought the American Civil War. However few writers have taken the time to reasearch the specifically Masonic incidences that are found in these records. Whether it is saving the life of an enemy, ensuring him a proper burial, making his life more comfortable in prison, or helping him advance in his Masonic work, Masons on both sides of the war never forgot the charge they had taken to "I will fly to his [the masons] relief, if there is a greater probability of saving his life than losing my own."

Review: I am not an initiated Mason, but as my day draws near I decided to combine both my interest in the ACW, and the burgeoning interest in Masonry. Looking at some of the Masonic threads on the forum I came across this book along with a few others. Once I cracked it open, I literally did not put it down until my wife snatched the e-reader from my hand. The good hard research of the author lends particular legitimacy to this book and adds to the mystique of the brotherhood. The stories are heartwarming, showing enemies who while they were polar opposites in political belief, still considered themselves brothers no matter what happened. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone interested in the kinder aspects of the war, whether Masonic or not.

Positives:
Well researched: This book has copious references that I have checked in brief and they all prove true. The speculation is kept to a minimum and evidence is almost always presented where possible.

Well written: It is written in a style that lends itself to the uninitiated or the lower degree Mason. I did not feel out of place reading it when I ran across a Masonic reference, as it was generally explained or addressed in the glossary.

Negatives:

Too Short: Would have loved to see this book as long as War and Peace. Unfortunatly I was too eager and burned through it 2 hours into my flight from Italy to Toronto.
 

Lee

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It has been a while since I read it but my less than perfect memory tells me I read about the Federals hanging of some of Mosby's men and Mosby retaliated by hanging some Federals he captured. As outraged as Mosby's men were regarding the Federals hanging their captured comrades when the time for retribution was at hand the Confederates didn't relish the experience. At first the Federal prisoners drew lots then one very young soldier was excused and the older soldiers had to draw again to replace the young soldier. Farther along when the condemned men were being taken to the site chosen for the hanging I read that it was either suspected or very likely that a few of the condemned men displayed the Masonic handshake or some other sign used by the order and as luck would have it some of Mosby's men were also Masons and they told the condemned Masons to light out and what direction to follow to make good their escape.
Of course a number of Federals were executed by hanging that night but a lessor number than had actually been selected. Letters were exchanged and the hanging of prisoners ceased shortly after.
 
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Samuel.Sohm

First Sergeant
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Colorado Springs, CO
It has been a while since I read it but my less than perfect memory tells me I read about the Federals hanging of some of Mosby's men and Mosby retaliated by hanging some Federals he captured. As outraged as Mosby's men were regarding the Federals hanging their captured comrades when the time for retribution was at hand the Confederates didn't relish the experience. At first the Federal prisoners drew lots then one very young soldier was excused and the older soldiers had to draw again to replace the young soldier. Farther along when the condemned men were being taken to the site chosen for the hanging I read that it was either suspected or very likely that a few of the condemned men displayed the Masonic handshake or some other sign used by the order and as luck would have it some of Mosby's men were also Masons and they told the condemned Masons to light out and what direction to follow to make good their escape.
Of course a number of Federals were executed by hanging that night but a lessor number than had actually been selected. Letters were exchanged and the hanging of prisoners ceased shortly after.
Page 88-89 with an illustration of the incident on the lower portion of page 124. You wont find the illustration on the preview below, but you will find the incident:
http://books.google.com/books?id=BOHuhmG7ocAC&pg=PA210&lpg=PA210&dq=The+Better+Angels+of+Our+Nature:+Freemasons+in+the+American+Civil+War+mosby&source=bl&ots=HgEBcTlf1a&sig=ssEANY-bbNgQBORzmpNNva10rQs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_vXuUc3tOs_e4AONzID4Bg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Mosby&f=false
 
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Lee

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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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