Volume LVNovember 2008Number 4

Masonic Meeting at Historic Fort Mifflin

Left-right: Bros. Thomas W. Simpson III, J.W.; Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master; Raymond E. Cox, 50-Year Emblem recipient; Ray Bryant, W.M.; and Orlando P. Salvato III, P.M., S.W.

On Sept. 17, a Stated Meeting of Penn Lodge No. 709, Concordville, was held at Historic Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River, site of the oldest continuously used fort in the United States. The 220 brethren who were in attendance from 36 different lodges were honored with a visitation by Bro. Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master. The fort was secured with the closing of the heavy wooden gate and the watchful eyes and ears of Tylers upon the walls in each of the four cardinal points.

At 6 p.m., with a blast from a cannon and rap of the gavel, the first Masonic Meeting at Fort Mifflin was called to order. Grand Master Gardner performed the Flag ceremony accompanied by the NUR Colonials Fife & Drum Corp. Introductions were made while the Unity Gavel traveled from hand to hand.

Using the success of the Meeting in the Hills in Western Pennsylvania as inspiration, and the assistance from brethren of all seven lodges in District 36, the Meeting at the Fort was brought to fruition. It was conceived as a special project to inspire the brethren of our Masonic fraternity and unite them on one special and historic occasion. It is in this same spirit that the Unity Gavel and Box had been conceived.

An aerial view of the meeting at the fort.
Bro. Rick L. Swalm, District Deputy Grand Master for District 36, with Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master
NUR Colonial Fife & Drum Corp. presenting the colors

Originally built in 1771 by the British, Fort Mifflin is the only Revolutionary War battlefield completely intact. It was used by the U.S. Army until 1952 during the Korean War.

In 1777, during the American Revolution, the British Navy attacked Fort Mifflin on Mud Island. Bro. and General George Washington ordered the garrison at Fort Mifflin to hold off the British Navy so the Continental Army could make its way to their winter encampment at Valley Forge.

The British surrounded the garrison of approximately 400 Continental soldiers on three sides, and pummeled the fort with more than 10,000 cannonballs, causing the garrison to evacuate and killing 150 Continental soldiers. The harsh weather prevented British General Howe from chasing them, allowing Bro. and General Washington and the Continental Army to regroup in Valley Forge until spring 1787. Bro. Washington wrote that the defense of the Delaware River was "of the utmost importance to America."

Known as the "Valiant Defender of the Delaware," Fort Mifflin was reconstructed in 1798 as a coastal defense. It served many purposes over the years, as a garrison in the War of 1812, a Confederate prison during the Civil War and as a munitions depot in World Wars I & II. www.fortmifflin.us


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