Freemasons & The Military

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J Schimian

I do not have an outline or bullet-points for this. What I do have is a challenge that has been
issued, a full pot of coffee, half a bottle of Alpha Brain, an internet connection and nothing on the
calendar. So strap yourself in and bare with me for what should be an interesting trip through

The Tun Tavern
If you want to see a correlation between the United Sates Military and Freemasonry, all you need to do is look at any of the pictures of George Washington. He was the first elected President, he was a Freemason and he was one of the Countries great military leaders. But there is more to the story than, ‘ol George. If you look at Masonry and the tenants you learn therein, you can look at the military and see many correlations in the brotherhood and bonds that develop between men. As deep as those bonds of Brotherhood run, so do the bonds that tie our Nation’s Military to Freemasonry.

In 1733, Henry Price (Grand Master of North America for the Grand Lodge of England) granted
a charter to a group of Boston Freemasons. This lodge was later named St. John's Lodge and
was the first duly constituted lodge in America. The first meeting of St. John’s Lodge #1 was
held in a building known as the Tun Tavern.

On November 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps was officially formed by a vote of the
Continental Congress. Captain Samuel Nicholas was named the first Commandant of the
Marine Corps. Robert Mullan (the proprietor of Tun Tavern ) was appointed to raise two
companies of Marines. So it was, the very first Continental Marines were recruited in Tun
Tavern, and it became the birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps 238 years ago (yesterday, November 10 2013).

The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston was the meeting place of St. Andrew’s Lodge. On the
night of December 16, 1773 there was to be a meeting of these Brethren. The minutes state
that the meeting was “closed on account of few Brethren present.” I can confirm without a
doubt, that this artifact does exist and I have seen it… Well, a copy of it. A few decades ago,
my father was helping me with a research paper I was doing for school. He had the time and
love of research and somehow came up with a copy of these meeting minutes. 

This 8.5” by 11” piece of history is one of those things I wish I could reach back and save for eternity. Perhaps by virtue of the internet, a few long distance phone calls and an email later, I can share with you what I saw for myself all those years ago. This copy of the handwritten entry in the Secretary’s
book had a few names scrawled on it and then one very particular set of initials. One that lends
itself to an act that would thrust the fledgling colonies into a war with Great Britain. Three
simple letters, S.O.L. A few hours later, Boston Harbor was full of crates of tea and a revolution
had begun. It is no coincidence that membership rolls of St. Andrew’s Lodge holds names like Paul Revere, William Molineux, John Hancock & Joseph Warren. On a side note, American’shave been drinking coffee ever since… According to the English, American’s lost their rase for
tea because of their peculiar way of mixing it with salt water…

Many Masons made their names on the battlefield. Some of the earliest were John Paul Jones
and the Marquis de Lafayette, heroes of the American Revolution. Benedict Arnold was a noted
Mason (he was expelled because of his treason during the war).

Many soldiers who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War were members of the same
fraternal order, including the Confederacy's George Pickett and the Union's Joshua
Chamberlain, both of whom fought at Gettysburg.

The first recorded acts of Masonic charity during the Civil War occurred during the Battle of Bull
Run, July 21, 1861. This story of a wounded officer, Col. W.H. Raynor (1st. Ohio), finding quarter
and assistance with J.H. Lemon (Raford’s Cavalry) after being wounded and captured by the
enemy, is the just one of many during this brutal war between Brethren.

Another example is found with Fellowcraft L.J. Williams (114th N.Y. Vol.), being captured &
imprisoned around Savannah, GA. Through communications with his home Lodge and a local
Lodge, Williams, wearing this Union Blues, was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason
by officers wearing Confederate Gray. That night Williams “escaped.” When asked how he was
able to get away, he said it was hardly an escape. He had been taken by boat in the dark of
night to the enemy lines and set free. He attributed his “escape” to Hiram.

Even Masonic Hall’s were saved from the destruction of 4 years of war. As was the case in
Richmond, VA when during the Confederate retreat. There are differing accounts on exactly
how the Hall was not destroyed or looted with the rest of the City, but all 3 are Masonic in
The Official Masonic Civil War Monument - Gettysburg National Military Park

With every conflict going forward from the beginning of this Country, examples can be found of 
Masonic Lodges, practices and even charity towards the enemy. It makes perfect sense that 
fabric of the military might of our Nation is intertwined with the history of Freemasonry. Even 
those in the armed forces who have not been initiated, passed & raised, carry with them the 
same thoughts and ideals that we as Master Masons carry every day. If you speak to a service 
member and question the missions they are charged with, one idea is continually raised, and it 
is not far off from: “Making Good Men Better.” They will certainly all affirm to you that they would 
gladly lay down their own life for a Brother.

So, on this Veteran’s Day, let us take pause and remember those that have come before us,
those that protect our freedoms today and this that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in combating 
evil, wherever it may show its head.

It is estimated that 22 veterans take their own life each day.

Let us not forget what they have given for us.

I was born in antiquity, in the ancient days when men first dreamed of God. I have been tried 
through the ages, and found true. The crossroads of the world bear the imprint of my feet, and 
the cathedrals of all nations mark the skill of my hands. I strive for beauty and for symmetry. In 
my heart is wisdom and strength and courage for those who ask. Upon my alters is the Book of 
Holy Writ, and my prayers are to the One Omnipotent God, my sons work and pray together, 
without rank or discord, in the public mart and in the inner chamber. By signs and symbols I 
teach the lessons of life and of death and the relationship of man with God and of man with 
man. My arms are widespread to receive those of lawful age and good report who seek me of 
their own free will. I accept them and teach them to use my tools in the building of men, and 
thereafter, find direction in their own quest for perfection so much desired and so difficult to 
attain. I lift up the fallen and shelter the sick. I hark to the orphans' cry, the widows tears, the 
pain of the old and destitute. I am not church, nor party, nor school, yet my sons bear a full 
share of responsibility to God, to country, to neighbor and themselves. They are freemen, 
tenacious of their liberties and alert to lurking danger. At the end I commit them as each one 
undertakes the journey beyond the vale into the glory of everlasting life. I ponder the sand within 
the glass and think how small is a single life in the eternal universe. Always have I taught
immortality, and even as I raise men from darkness into light, I am a way of life. I Am 

- Ray V. Denslow, 1933


Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a husband and father of two. Bro. Brian is also the lead contributor to theBrothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level"


  1. Thanks for that wonderful article, Brother Schimian. The piece at the end was very uplifting. I'll make to make a trip up to my homeland soon, so I can see the monument in Gettysburg. My familial brother and I are going to Alexandria this weekend to see the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.

    Cheers, and Happy Veteran's Day!

  2. thanks Brother Brian. Great article to commemorate the Brethren who have served our Country in time of it's defense

  3. Thanks for the kind words... I was deep into the research and writing and realized that something of this nature could go on forever... Certainly the correlation between Military Service (and any Public Service for that matter) and Freemasonry is undeniable from a Brotherhood & sense of Duty standpoint.

    We, as a Nation owe EVERYTHING to the Military.

    Interesting side note that I want to investigate farther, only 3% of the Colonists fought in the Revolution... I want to correlate that to the number of Brethren of the time.

  4. Great read. I stumbled upon this because, as an disabled army veteran, I had a "spark" while reading about Mozart. What I was reading, mentioned how Mozart was a Freemason and would incorperate a lot of masonic style elements in his plays, music, etc. From wikipedia,

    "The music of the Freemasons contained musical phrases and forms that held specific semiotic meanings. For example, the Masonic initiation ceremony began with the candidate knocking three times at the door to ask admittance. This is expressed musically as a dotted figure in "The Magic Flute":".

    What "clicked", was the parallel between Freemasonry and the Army as far as knocking 3 times and waiting for admittance. In the Army, we go through the lower-enlisted ranks ("joes") of E-1 through E-4. E-4 to E-5 is a major stepping point because one goes from "joe" to "NCO (Non-Commisoned Officer)", from "being babysat" to "doing the babysitting". At the E-5 promotion board ceremony is where the individuals line up, and one by one, go before the board. We'd knock 3 times and wait for someone to say "Enter" then go before a table of the highest ranking NCOs who ask questions, have us execute marching movements, etc., to see if ones worthy of being promoted, or initiated higher, if you will. Idk, could be just another simple coincidence like the millions of others I've come across since discharging from the Army 3 years ago but, who knows lol. Much love to everyone.

    Jonathan Jennings
    SGT, USA Retired

  5. Good article as a retired U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant and a brother Mason to read this makes me wonder how many mason there are in the Armed Forces today April 2020? Anyhow, thank you brother.


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