For over 275 years, men both young and old, have sought and became members of the most flourishing fraternal organization in the world, Freemasonry. To seek membership one must only ask to be admitted, believe in a supreme being, and be of the highest moral character. Political, social, and religious differences are set aside and membership means the practice of brotherly love and equality to all. Once a Mason, all personal animosities are to be left outside the lodge room door and harmony is the order of business.
In 1861, Freemasons across the Unites States were finding it increasingly difficult to hold harmony and good will toward all, both inside and outside the lodge room. The sectional differences that rocked the country also attempted to drive a wedge in the country’s half a million Freemasons. With the nation already split, Masons made the same choices as their non-Masonic counterparts, and they gravitated to their respective personal beliefs. Could one Mason still uphold the principles of the craft while fighting his Masonic brothers? While on the battlefield would the members of the craft remember their solemn obligations to their fellow brethren regardless of the color of his uniform? With their conscience as a constant companion, each Mason, Northern or Southern, Union and Confederate, dealt with these questions.
This article taken from “Freemasons at Gettysburg” by Sheldon A. Munn identifies various members of both sides of the conflict that found themselves asking those same questions. This article will attempt to identify some of the more famous Masons that fought at Gettysburg. Even though there were thousands that fought during this battle, this article will focus on only a handful.
Privates, lieutenants, colonels and generals, soldiers from all walks of life, and all geographic areas of the United States were Freemasons during the war.
With only two things in common, their Masonic membership and their participation in the turning point of the Civil War, the soldiers listed here are the best examples of the kind of men who joined the order and the reasons that the bonds of Masonic brotherhood were never severed. Mr. Munn, through his work, shows why 130 years ago, as well as today, Freemasonry continues to be a fraternity which promotes unity and brotherly love.
Statistics of Masons at the Battle of Gettysburg: During the American Civil War, there were thirtymillion people in America. Half a million people were Free & Accepted Masons. Noted author and historian, Allen E. Roberts, acknowledges the Most Worshipful Grand Master James McCallum of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, verifying the population of five-hundred thousand Free & Accepted Masons in our country in 1861. The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, represented by Richard Vaux, responded to the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in confirmation of his statement.
The sum of 1.67 percent coincides identically with the present population of four million Free and Accepted Masons in our country of two hundred fifty million Americans during the present decade. This percentage includes men, women and children now in America. In his book, Masonry Under Two Flags, Roberts notes that “Masons made up about eleven percent of the armed forces of both the United States and the Confederate States.” After considerable research of our 1860 population statistics, it is most probable that eleven percent of those men in our country were Masons. There were 163,000 Union and Confederate soldiers engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg. 51,000 men were casualties, representing 31.3%. Eleven percent of that number produces 17,930 members of the Masonic fraternity.