Masonic Education

MILITARY LODGES, A BRIEF HISTORY

“A military lodge is one whose charter is granted to the members of a military unit. The lodge is not limited to one city, but moves about with the unit. Freemasonry was spread throughout much of the world by traveling military lodges.” (Compl. Indiot’s Guide) The consent of the commanding officer of the regiment had to be obtained before a military lodge could be formed. Similarly, he could order its closure. Grand Lodge rules forbade civilians from joining military lodges. They were to join their local lodges.

The concept of military lodges is not new. Freemasonry, as was indicated, owes much of its world-wide nature to the Regimental Lodges of the British Armies. Accommodations were made for the professional soldiers when Grand Lodges began issuing warrants and charters to have traveling Military Lodges.

Using the system of warrants, the Irish Grand Lodge established lodges in the British army and navy. For example, the first Battalion of Royal Scots received its warrant in 1732. This lodge traveled with its regiment for over a century. By 1813 the Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland, and the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges of England had a total of 218 military lodges on their roles. And, Masonic Military Lodges had been established by several members of American Regiments in the Revolutionary War. The American army had ten military lodges between 1775 and 1780. These were in regiments in the Continental Line. Seven of these lodges held warrants from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Three of these lodges were for troops raised in that state, while the other military lodges were for regiments from North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. New York furnished a warrant for one lodge, while each of the competing Grand Lodges of Massachusetts authorized one military lodge each.

The American Civil War saw the creation of the greatest number of military lodges in the history of the nation. This was due to the duration of the conflict and the number of men mobilized. The then common practice of ceasing campaigning during the winter months provided opportunities for increased fraternal association.  As many as 244 military lodges (94 from the North and 150 from the South) formed, having been given permission from the appropriate Grand Lodges. Several commanding generals on both sides of the conflicts were Masons. In fact, the Northern General George B. McClelland, was initiated in a military lodge in Oregon in 1853.

There are some references to military lodges in the Spanish American War. However, beginning with WWI and continuing until the end of the draft in 1973, there was a shift from state and /or local organized units to individual draftees assigned to different units as needed. It in fact remained such until the Persian Gulf Wars when Reservists and National Guardsmen again went to war as part of identifiable and distinct units. 

MATERIAL DISCLAIMER

 The material in this papers was developed from a variety of sources: books, encyclopedias, magazine articles, M.S.A Publications, television, and the internet.  Most, but not all, of these sources were written and/or edited by Masons.  There is no claim made that the information in these papers is original, or was originally developed by this writer. Each paper contains: direct quotes, excerpts, and paraphrasing from the sources used.

These papers are presented one per month as part of the Masonic Education Program of Bellevue Lodge #325 A.M. & F.M. at the monthly Stated Communication. 

Br. William H. Miller,                                                                                                                     

Bellevue Lodge #325





Comments