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In 1861, six dispensations were granted for lodges to be held with active-duty regiments during the American Civil War. Each dispensation was granted to a particular regiment. These dispensations expired at the end of 1865.

Dispensation Granted By: William T. Coolidge

Regiment: 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

Precedence Date: 10/17/1861


1861 1864


  • Joseph B. Knox, 1861-1865 SN



From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXI, No. 6, April 1862, Page 211:

Newbern, N. C, March 31st, 1862.

M. W. G. M. Wm. D. Coolidge

Dear Sir and Brother — Without doubt you have for some months been anxiously looking for some tidings from Fraternal Army Lodge, No. 4, connected with the 25th regiment Massachusetts volunteers. My purpose was to have written yon about the first of January, but circumstances beyond my control prevented and now, after so long silence, I am happy to inform you that we are enjoying the benefit of that social intercourse which your kindness in granting a Dispensation, has conferred on us, — members of our loved Fraternity, who are in a strange land, striving to uphold the Laws and Constitution of this glorious Republic.

The first meeting we held was at Annapolis, Md., Dee. 23d, 1861, in the Hall of Annapolis Lodge No. 89, which was kindly offered us by the Brethren there. There were eighteen present. One petition was received; we formed some acquaintances among the Masons in Annapolis, which will be remembered with pleasure, as we "travel on the level of time toward that undiscovered country;" and our prayer shall be that the Supreme Ruler of the Universe may guide and keep them, as he has done, thus for, in Union with their Brethren and our Country.

From the time we met in Annapolis till we came to this place, we have had neither time nor place where we could hold a meeting. Our regiment was divided and came down the coast on three different ships, so our members were scattered. On looking about here we found a nice Hall, belonging to St. John's Lodge, which bad been broken open and robbed of most of its jewels, and which led us, of the Craft, to secure a guard to be placed over it, to see that nothing further was taken. One week last Saturday evening, we held a meeting there, and a very pleasant time we had. Fifteen were visitors from other regiments. Last Thursday we held our 2d meeting here, thirty Brethren were present, which indicates some interest in our Lodge. I have found the examinations of applicants to visit the Lodge quite a task. We have received five petitions since we came here; and here let me inquire, if I can — placed under peculiar circumstances as we are — receive applications oftener than once a month. We may be stationed here long enough to hold two monthly meetings, but the chances are that we shall not. I propose to hold a meeting each week, for two or three weeks, fearing we may not enjoy so good conveniences long. An answer to the above question would much oblige. In our last battle, we lost a Brother, beloved by all who knew him, and although he did not belong to our Army Lodge, he was deeply interested in its welfare. I refer to Brother Frazier A. Stearns, of the 21st Regiment Massachusetts volunteers, and son of President Stearns of Amherst College. Brother Treasurer A. B. R. Sprague, was pleased to offer a friendly tribute to his memory, a copy of which I herewith inclose.

My lore for the Fraternity and the Sacred Mysteries which bind us together, increases as I see more of its workings, and I feel that he who is a true Mason, cannot be a bad man. I have met with a number of professed Masons among the rebel prisoners we hare taken, and I remarked to one that I did not understand how any one who had ever taken an obligation such as we profess to have done could take up arms against his country; and I am satisfied that the greater part hare done so without thinking what they were doing. I trust they may be led to see the error of their ways and turn without delay into the right path. I should be pleased to receive a letter from yon if convenient. And may He who ruleth over all, and has brought us of Fraternal Army Lodge, through dangers and the very jaws of death, since we left our dear New England, guide and keep you and us ever, and bring us all at last to bis Heavenly home. Very respectfully and Fraternally yours,

J. B. KNOX, W. M. of Fraternal Army Lodge, No. 4.


Among the brave who fought and fell in our battle of the 14th ult., was our young Brother Frazier A. Stearns, Adjutant of the 21st Massachusetts volunteers. Knowing him well by reputation before, it was not till I met him inside the pale of our holy Fraternity, that I formed a pleasant acquaintance, that has so suddenly been terminated by the shafts of death, in the hands of the enemies of our country. In the freshness of early manhood, that beginning to assume and understand its responsibilities, — at the post of duty, brave and hopeful; he is summoned home, "Where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." Verily the ways of our Heavenly Father are mysterious and past finding out! And while we bow in humble submission to His decrees, "who doeth all things well," we are more than convinced that length of days is not essential to the completion of a well ordered life; and he, who, struggling at the post of duty, shakes off the mortal as a clog, and, "beyond the veil," pushes onward and upward in the sphere of actual life, far outstrips us who still grovel in the darkness of our pilgrimage, seeking for more light, trusting that we might pitch our moving tent a "day's march nearer home." Gifted with a brilliant intellect, cultivated and refined by close application; gentlemanly in his deportment; deeply loved, I am told, by his associates in arms; faithful in the performance of his duties; of dauntless and unquestioned bravery. Wounded at Roanoke, he fell early in action before Newbern, — lingering for two hours — his life ebbing away with the words, "O my God!" on his lips, — the shadow of death overspread him :—

"Chill though it was, he hailed it with a smile,
Not worn by years, or grief, or by long infirmity —
Lay down beneath it,—slept a little while,
And wakened in eternity."

Those who knew him will miss him, as we push on the column. Sorrow will fill the hearts of a loving circle—the sanctity of whose private grief we may not invade in his dear New England home. His name and memory shall live in our Country's history, together with oar other brave comrades, who have fallen. ** Not lost, but gone before," he beckons us on to work while the day lasts, for God, our Brethren, and Humanity.



Massachusetts Lodges