Thursday, March 13, 2008
Friend to Friend---Gettysburg
Located in the cemetery annex at Gettysburg is this monument depicting Confederate General Lewis Armistead and Union Captain Henry Bingham after Armistead fell during Picketts Charge on July 3, 1863. One of the Union Generals opposing Armistead was Union General Winfield Scott Hancock. Hancock and Armistead were great friends and attended West Point together before the war broke out. Armistead, a Virginian, resigned from West Point and accepted a commission in the Confederate Army at the onset of the war. Hancock was from Pennsylvania and elected to serve the Union. Twenty-seven months later the men would meet again but this time as opposing generals of an ill-fated charge that most historians believe was the ultimate turning point of the war.
General Armistead was seriously wounded during Pickets Charge and as he lay on the Battlefield, Captain Henry Brigham came to his aid. Armistead realized how serious his wounds were and asked Captain Bingham if he would kindly give his watch and personal effects to his friend General Hancock. It was at this point that Armistead learned that Hancock himself had been injured but the severities of his wounds were not known. As it was Hancock lay but a few yards from Armistead on the battlefield, a fact not realized by either of them. Captain Bingham relayed the effects of General Armistead to General Hancock and he later returned them to General Armistead’s wife. Armistead died on July 5th 1863 in the field hospital on the Spangler Farm.
More than friends and fellow officers Hancock and Armistead were Masonic Brothers. Armistead was a member of the Alexandria-Washington Lodge # 22 in Alexandria Va. located in the George Washington Masonic Memorial.
General Hancock received his 3 degrees of masonry by special dispensation in Charity Lodge # 190 in Norristown PA.
Captain Bingham, also a Mason was a member of Chartiers Lodge # 292 in Canonsburg PA. He later transferred to Union Lake Lodge # 121 in Philadelphia where he became a life member.
On August 26th, 1893 Captain Bingham was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions and courage during the “Battle of the Wilderness” on May 6th, 1864.
The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania F. & A.M. dedicated the memorial pictured here in August of 1993.