“A Passion for the Civil War and
how it brought me to the door of Freemasonry”
By Michael A. Kupsch 32°
Just about everyone has a hobby, and I am no different. However, I would probably say my hobby is more of a passion;
a passion to recreate as close as I can, the experiences of the Civil War soldier. Granted, that does not include actually
shooting or sustaining gunshot wounds, or experiencing the other ailments suffered by so many soldiers during the war. My
focus is on how “Johnny Reb” or “Billy Yank” lived in the field; what he ate, how he prepared it,
how he went into bivouac from a long day’s march. It was through this passion that I found another passion in the teachings
When I got involved in Civil War reenacting, I joined what they call the “mainstream” side
of the hobby. These are the typical reenactors that the general public is familiar with. They camp in tents; hide their coolers
inside, sometimes have their families camped with them, and their uniforms and equipment are not made to authentic standards.
This was not what I was looking for, and several of my friends, or using the Civil War term of “pards”, felt the
same way. We broke off and formed our own group that would participate with other likeminded groups in doing living history.
During the war, a group of pards would share their rations and cook together in what was called a “mess.”
We named our mess “The Tater Mess.” Soon, we were traveling off to Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and other places
to participate in events with these other “hardcore” groups. These events were not for the public and held in
areas that looked very close to the 1860’s without 21st century intrusions. Eating the same type of rations,
preparing them in like manner to our ancestors, and wearing uniforms and equipment that had been painstakingly made using
the correct materials and construction methods; we would march off with our bedrolls slung over our shoulder for marches up
to 15 miles per day. That would be followed by guard duty, packing up and moving on and looking for the enemy. Of course we
would encounter the enemy and either push him or withdraw tactically (which is better way of saying retreat). These battle
encounters are not at all like the scripted battle scenarios put on for the viewing public’s pleasure. These have the
feel, look and sound of what it must have been like for the Civil War soldier less the Minnie balls and bayonets.
you might be wondering if this ties into Masonry, and I assure you, gentle reader, that it does. In getting to know the other
hardcore groups, I found that many of them were Freemasons. I had been somewhat familiar with the Freemasons. One of my messmates
became a Freemason and I could see a wonderful change in him. He was already a good man, but I could tell he was striving
to improve himself and be an even better man. I did more research on the Craft and decided this was something that I needed
to involve myself with; that I too, wanted to improve myself to be an even better man. And, as they say, the rest is history.