Civil War Masonry

photo of shriner walking up masonic stairs

The Masonic Influence on World History

Another example of masonic brotherly love during times of conflict.

Perhaps one of the best examples of these ties of brotherhood occurred on the battlefield at Gettysburg.

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 “This battle, the turning point of the War, saw 93,000 Federal troops doing battle with 71,000 Confederates. Of those numbers, one in six were killed or wounded in the three days of fighting from 1 July to 3 July, 1863. Of the men who fought, 17,930 were Freemasons, including the roughly 5,600 who became casualties.

One of the most famous events  at Gettysburg was the huge Confederate infantry push known as Pickett’s Charge.

On 3 July, Pickett (a member of Dove Lodge #51, Richmond, Va) led nearly 12,000 men on a long rush across open fields towards the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge.

It has been called the last and greatest infantry charge in military history.

One of the men leading that charge was Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead, CSA a member of Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge #22 in Alexandria. Originally from North Carolina  he had attended West Point and fought with the US Army for a number of years before resigning his commission to fight for the Confederacy.

During that time, he  served with now Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, USA (Charity Lodge #190, Norristown, Pa.) The two had become good friends.

With Armistead’s resignation, it had been nearly two and a half years since the two men had had any contact. Until Gettysburg.

It was Hancock who had taken command of the fragmented Union troops on Cemetery Ridge on 1 July and organized them into a strong front that withstood three days of pounding from the Confederate guns. And it was his position, in the center of the Union line, that was the focus of Pickett’s Charge. During the action, both men were wounded. Armistead was shot from his horse, mortally wounded. Hancock’s saddle took a hit, driving nails and pieces of wood into his thigh.

As the battle ended, it was clear that Armistead’s injuries were fatal. Knowing that his old friend was somewhere behind the Union lines, Armistead exhibited the Masonic sign of distress. This was seen by Captain Henry Harrison Bingham, the Judge-Advocate of Hancock’s Second Corps (Chartiers Lodge #297, Canonsburg, Pa.). He came to the fallen Armistead and declared that he was a fellow Mason.

The two men spoke for a time,  when Armistead realized that Bingham had direct access to Hancock, he entrusted some of his personal effects to him, his Masonic watch, the Bible upon which he had taken his obligations and a number of other items. Bingham said his farewells, and then returned to the Union camp to deliver the items.

Armistead died two days later.”

Gary has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,

Your comments are welcome


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