Many years after the civil war had ended, a son of brother L. J. Williams of Downsville lodge no. 464 New York reported in lodge of a story his father had told him of an masonic experience he had during the war.
When the war broke out the entered apprentice and the Fellowcraft degrees had been conferred on him in New York. He went out in defense of his country without having been raised to the degree of Master Mason. It was his misfortune to be taken a prisoner of war while at or near Savannah, Georgia.
While he lay in the southern prison, he communicated through letters with some of his friends in the north. His lodge in New York, through proper officials, got in touch with Zerubbabel lodge in savannah, and made the request that the savannah lodge, as a favor to the brethren of the north, confer the Master Masons degree on the Fellowcraft brother, L. J. Williams.
One night my father was taken from his prison and conducted to the Savannah lodge room. It was a remarkable occasion. He wore his bedraggled blue uniform, a token of his sympathy with the cause of the north. All of the chairs were occupied by confederate officers. He was surrounded by men who wore the gray. They were on opposite sides of a struggle to the death, but they were brethren. Then and there he was raised a Master Mason and acclaimed a friend and brother by his enemies.
But the more significant feature of the story was yet to follow. For on the same night my father escaped from his prison and joined his companions of the north. I have visited Savannah since then and looked up the record of his raising. In red ink, on the same page that records the fact that the degree was there conferred, is the brief annotation: "on this night Brother Williams escaped from prison."
I have talked with my father about the matter a number of times. When asked about his ' escape ' he always smiles peculiarly. You may put it down as an escape, he told me, but it wasn't an escape, stickily speaking. For on that night some men came to my prison. They put me in a boat and carried me off some distance. Then they deposited me on some neutral soil between the lines. From there I found my way back to my friends.
Who my rescuers were, I have never learned. It is their own secret, and it has never been disclosed. But in my mind I know exactly to whom I may attribute the 'escape' in question. His name is Hiram.
From the Blues and Grays web site.
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