The Civil War: Tale of Two Brothers

Discussion in 'Freemasonry in the News' started by Blake Bowden, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member


    The Civil War has often been referred to as being “brother against brother,†and in truth there are many stories of biological brothers serving against each other, one for the United States and one for the Confederate States.

    The story of the large, unique statue at Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pa. reflects the love and devotion of two brothers who shared neither father nor mother and by any normal description were not brothers. In a very real sense, however, they were, and the statue stands today to commemorate their love.

    Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Addison Armistead was born in New Bern, N.C. and was a member of Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge # 22. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, a Union officer, was born in Norristown, Pa. and was a member of Charity Lodge # 190 of that town. The two shared a friendship that had gone back for many years until politics of the time caused them to go separate ways...

    Source: The Civil War: Tale of 'two brothers,' Freemasons at Gettysburg | Washington Times Communities
  2. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

  3. Pscyclepath

    Pscyclepath Premium Member

    I've been working on a presentation on this topic... Here's another vignette from 150 years ago this weekend... The battle of South Mountain was a delaying action fought by the Confederates to hold off McClellan's pursuing army while Robert E. Lee set up his defenses behind a little creek just outside Sharpsburg, MD...

    (SouthMountain, MD – Sept 14, 1862)
    Skirtinga forest on the summit, where a dense growth of underbrush obstructed rapidmovements, the dead and dying in both blue and gray lay thickly scattered overthe ground, where a bayonet charge had been executed with decisive success.Death had reaped a rich harvest here.

    Thegroaning and low moans of the severely wounded were painful to hear. As thebattle was over, and no action would probably ensue until daylight, Idetermined to assist the wounded on the field we had just charged over andtaken from the enemy. It was very dark and difficult to tell the rebel from theUnion wounded as they mixed together on the field.

    Iwas passing through some very dense underbrush, giving water from my canteen tothe wounded, and assisting the "stretcher-bearers" to take the worstcases from the field, when someone sitting against a tree uttered in a clear,distinct voice the never-to-be-forgotten words accompanying the sign ofdistress among Masons. In a moment I was by his side, with my hand graspinghis, proffering any aid in my power. A drink of cold water from my canteen washis first request, and then I bathed his wounds with the remainder of the waterI had. He was shot through the right leg and also through the shoulder, thelatter wound being very painful. I tore away the skirts of his coat and with myhandkerchief bound up his wound to stop the blood, for he was quite weak andevidently bleeding to death.

    WhenI had succeeded in stopping the blood from flowing he seemed to revive and in anervous manner asked me if I knew who I was attending to so kindly. I told himI did not have the honor of knowing and really cared very little to know aslong as he was a Mason. He replied in a very desponding manner, "I am Col.C of the ___ South Carolina Regiment, instead of being a Union officer as yousupposed."

    Ireplied that I was happy to learn his name and as it was so very dark I couldnot tell the color of uniforms and knew not rebel from Union wounded. "Iwill call the stretcher-bearer and have you taken to our hospital," Iadded.

    "What,me!" said the rebel officer, speaking as if taken wholly by surprise."Yes sir, YOU," said I emphatically. "I am not entitled to anysuch treatment," said he in a very decisive manner.

    "Youare entitled to all I can do for you, and to the kindest care and treatment ourfield hospitals afford," said I, "because you have proved to me youare a Freemason."

    Hetried to speak but something choked his utterance. I thought it was blood fromhis wound, but he afterward told me it was his attempted utterance suddenlysurprised by kindness which captured his finer feelings and led him a willingcaptive into a Masonic ambuscade.

    Thestretcher-bearers were found and he was carefully taken to the nearest fieldhospital, where a surgeon had charge of it, who happened to be a Mason. I askedof the surgeon, as a personal favor, that this rebel officer might receive thebest attention and if any expenses were incurred to charge them to me. Aconvalescent was detailed to take charge of him, his wounds were carefullydressed, nourishment was given him, and I lay down to catch an hour's sleepbefore the hard duties of the morrow summoned me hence.

    Morningdawned on that bloody field of battle. The crest of South Mountain was lightedup with gold and crimson sunbeams chasing each other among the deep, darkfoliage of those grand old forests. The sunbeams kissed the suffering heroes inblood and dirt lying on the ground without a covering, and fell sadly upon thepale faces locked in the cold embrace of death. Ere this same sun would fallbehind the distant Alleghenies many in pain and agony would pass beyond theblue heavens into which they were gazing, where soldiers die no more. The crossand the crescent, the square and the compass, the blue and the gray, would allbe gathered together where the lamb and the lion would lie down together, wherepeace would be eternal, and war be known no more forever.

    Thewhole command was to move at sunrise, but the rebels had again retreated fromour front during the night and taken up a strong position on Antietam Creek. Itwas high twelve before the reconnaissances in force found the position of theenemy, so we lay all the forenoon, expecting the next moment to move.

    Justbefore noon, I went back to the hospital and found Col. C. much refreshed andlooking quite cheerful. He grasped my hand and kissed it, and the tear of amanly soldier stood in his eye, hardly daring to fall. I never can forget theflash of those dark Southern eyes as he said: "Pleasetell me for what reason you have been so kind to me?"

    Ireplied, "Because you are a Freemason—yes, a Royal Arch Mason."

    "Ihave taken in the old Granite State the same oaths that you have in a sunnyPalmetto State, and we are therefore companions until death. Nothing on earthcan separate us, or our attachment for each other. In war as well as in peacewe are still the same. While thrones and republics are tumbling, and the worldchanging day by day, we, as Masons, are now and ever will be the same withoutchange. I love and respect you as a brother, and as you would peril your ownlife to save mine, I ask you if I have done any more than was my duty to you asa Royal Arch Mason?"

    Hegave way to considerable emotion as this reply was made, but added with muchsincere feeling: "But I have been fighting against you, and all such asyou for a year, and aiding in all ways in my power to kill you."

    "Thengo and sin no more," I added, "for this you should feel ashamed as aMason. It is your country and not your State you have sworn to support and be agood citizen in, and you have been trying to subvert the best government everframed by man, and blessed by Almighty God. It has done you no injury, but haswatched over and protected you, as faithfully as a brother Mason. It hasprotected your life and property, and you owe it a debt of gratitude. Return,then, to your allegiance, and be as true to your country as you have beenfalse. It is your duty as a Mason."

    Withone hand in mine and the other on his heart he said: "I swear by the Godwho has so kindly made you the instrument for saving my life, that if thesewounds do not prove mortal, I will never be found in our army again." Andturning to the surgeon, who was just then coming up, "I will never ceaseto love the flag I honored in boyhood, until we three, or three such as we,meet together in heaven."

    Theauthor adds this postscript to his story:

    Inthe summer of 1864, while many of our officers were under our own artilleryfire in Charleston, and our privates in prison were being starved in asystematic manner, which will stand on the pages of history as the mostatrocious crime of modern times, a citizen of Charleston might have been seen,going at all hours and in all places to those prisons and slave-pens where oursoldiers were confined, and giving them the best that Charleston marketafforded. All the delicacies were faithfully given to the sick and suffering,and surgical aid was often called at his own expense. He would often sit allnight by the side of some sick or dying soldier, and watch over him with thetenderness of a mother. His countenance became familiar to all imprisoned inCharleston, and he was often asked why he dared perform such duties, being anative South Carolinian. He never gave a satisfactory reply. All imprisoned inCharleston will remember 'him as a ministering angel, a nameless hero, who was wounded in the right leg and severely woundedin the shoulder.

    Today is the 150th anniversary of the battle at Antietam, the bloodiest single day in the Civil War...

  4. Pscyclepath

    Pscyclepath Premium Member

    One more Antietam story for good measure...
    "TheCivil War in Song and Story" Collected and Arranged by Frank Moore
    page 299.

    A Masonic Incident - "The day after the battle of Antietam(9/18/1862), the Fifth New Hampshire formed the picket line along the edge ofthe cornfield where Richardson's division fought. The reserve was in one edgeof the corn, and the pickets about middle way of the field concealed in thecorn, as the sharpshooters of the enemy fired on all who undertook to walkaround on the battlefield at that locality. Early in the morning one of thewounded rebels, who lay just outside the pickets, called one of the NewHampshire men, and handed him a little slip of paper, on which he had,evidently with great difficulty succeeded in making some mystic signs in a circlewith a bit of stick wet in blood. The soldier was begged to give it to someFreemason as soon as possible, and he took it to Colonel Edward E. Cross, ofhis regiment. The Colonel was a Master Mason, but could not read the mystictoken, it belonging to a higher degree. He therefore sent for Captain J.B.Perry, of the Fifth, who was a member of the 32[SUP]nd[/SUP] degree ofFreemasonry, and showed him the letter. Captain Perry at once said there was abrother Mason in great peril, and must be rescued. Colonel Cross instantly sentfor several brother Masons in the regiment, told the story, and in a fewmoments four "brothers of the mystic tie" were crawling stealthilythrough the corn to find the brother in distress. He was found, placed on ablanket, and at great risk drawn out of range of rebel rifles, and then carriedto the Fifth New Hampshire field hospital. He proved to be First LieutenantEdon of the Alabama volunteers, badly wounded in the thigh and breast. A fewhours and he would have perished. Lieutenant Edon informed his brethren ofanother wounded Mason, who, when brought out, proved to be a Lieutenant Colonelof a Georgia regiment. These two wounded rebel officers received the sameattention as the wounded officers of the Fifth, and a warm friendship wasestablished between men who a few hours before were in mortal combat. This isone of the thousand instances in which the Masonic bond has proved a blessingto mankind."


Share My Freemasonry