by Donald L. Albert, R.W. Grand Secretary

I am sharing with you some of my studies of Freemasons who served at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Can you recall your first introduction to Freemasonry . . . or your first studies of the Civil War? My interest of the Civil War dates to my ninth grade high school days. My first recollection of Freemasonry was viewing Bro. Harry S Truman's Masonic funeral service on television.

In 1863, there were approximately 2,400 residents in the town called Gettysburg. One day in July, more than 160,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, along with all their horses, arrived in Gettysburg. A battle broke out. As history tells us, the activities surrounding the battle at Gettysburg were devastating.

Many Masons played a large part in this battle such as: Henry Heth of Virginia, who led the Confederate charge on the first day; then Col. Joshua Chamberlain of Maine who made the magnificent stand on the second day; and, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania, along with many Pennsylvania troops, who forced back Gen. George Pickett of Virginia on the third day; and Gen. James Kemper, P.M., (who later became Governor of Virginia) and Gen. Lewis Armistead, who was a member of Alexandria Lodge No. 22, the same lodge that Bro. George Washington served as the first Worshipful Master.

And, there was Gen. John Geary, who was in command of the Union troops on Culp's Hill. He previously was Mayor of San Francisco and Governor of Kansas and later would become Governor of Pennsylvania. During the "March to the Sea" from Atlanta, he saved the Masonic Temple of Solomon Lodge No. 1 from destruction in Savannah. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania had constituted this lodge originally as Lodge No. 42.

Gen. Daniel Butterfield of New York, a staff officer, was at Gettysburg; however, he is best known for his writing of "Taps" and implementing corps badges. Also, Gen. Alfred Pleasonton of Pennsylvania was in charge of the cavalry that withstood the battlefield charge.

There was Gen. John Gordon of Georgia, who formally surrendered the Confederate Army at Appomattox to Gen. Chamberlain.

The real devastation was to the community and to those who fought in the battle -- they are the ones who made the greatest contribution and their lives would never be the same.

On July of 1869, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania laid the cornerstone of the National Soldiers Monument in full Masonic ceremonies so that all might remember that battle as it is believed to have been the "high water mark of the Confederacy." In August of 1993, the Friend-to-Friend Masonic Memorial Monument was dedicated with full Masonic ceremonies commemorating the incident that occurred on the battlefield where Capt. Bingham, Gen. Armistead, and Gen. Hancock put their fraternal loyalty above political ideas and personal gains to help a brother in need.