The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War

by Michael A. Halleran
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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War by Michael A. Halleran

The first in-depth study of the Freemasons during the Civil War
One of the enduring yet little examined themes in Civil War lore is the widespread belief that on the field of battle and afterward, members of Masonic lodges would give aid and comfort to wounded or captured enemy Masons, often at great personal sacrifice and danger. This work is a deeply researched examination of the recorded, practical effects of Freemasonry among Civil War participants on both sides.
From first-person accounts culled from regimental histories, diaries, and letters, Michael A. Halleran has constructed an overview of 19th-century American freemasonry in general and Masonry in the armies of both North and South in particular, and provided telling examples of how Masonic brotherhood worked in practice. Halleran details the response of the fraternity to the crisis of secession and war, and examines acts of assistance to enemies on the battlefield and in POW camps.
The author examines carefully the major Masonic stories from the Civil War, in particular the myth that Confederate Lewis A. Armistead made the Masonic sign of distress as he lay dying at the high-water mark of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817316952
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 03/11/2010
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 229
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael A. Halleran is a freelance writer and a practicing attorney in the Flint Hills of East-Central Kansas. A lecturer at Emporia State University, he is also an active Freemason, belonging to both Emporia Lodge No. 12, A.F.& A.M., and  Mount Zion Lodge No. 266  A.F.& A.M.,Topeka, Kansas.

Halleran received the Mackey Award for Excellence in Masonic Scholarship by the Scottish Rite Research Society for his article on Civil War Freemasonry in that society’s journal: Heredom, vol. 14 (2006). In addition, he is the author of a regular column for The Scottish Rite Journal.

He is a member of the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, and the Scottish Rite Research Society where he studies American military Masonry and the traditions of military lodges worldwide.

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
James_Durney More than 1 year ago
Civil War history tells a consistent story of Masons appealing for aid and answering these appeals. We instantly recognize these stories. Often we dismiss them as part of Nineteenth Century life, age of chivalry or reconciliation mythology. This book is not a compilation of those stories but a historical look at Freemasonry during the war. Stories of appeal and aid are the foundation but they are not the book. This scholarly look at Freemasons starts with the founding of the United States runs through 1865. While the emphasis is on the Civil War, we get the necessary background to understand the why of what we are reading. The author has an excellent narrative style. He conveys information in an easy to read and understand way. This produces an enjoyable reading experience that makes the scholarly aspects seem less so. The basic format of a chapter is stories of Masons aiding Masons. Using this as a starting point the author expands on this to encompass an area of the war. We look at providing burials, aiding families, helping the wounded and providing care to prisoners in camps. Chapters are fully footnoted and there is a good Bibliography. The Prolog covers the story of Lew Armistead at Gettysburg. The author calls this the "most famous Masonic" story of the war. He carefully examines the stories separating the probable from the impossible. In doing so, he clears up some misconceptions while showing how the truth helped build the myth. This book will expand your understanding of the people and their experiences. It is a serious history of a small part of the war that was very important to those involved. It is well worth reading and should be a valued part of your library,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Freemason and lover of American history this book gave me a scope of understanding of the men of the Craft during the unsteady time of upheaval in the United States. How men with differing views could transcend their differences and remember their obligations to each other. I highly recommend this well researched and informative book. If you liked Allen E. Robert's "house Undivided" you will absolutely Adore this book!