Community comes in all shapes and sizes

Dorothea Mordan
5 min readJan 18, 2023

Dorothea Mordan’s Good Day Neighbor Column, 12/2022.

May 1864. Lt Colonel Charles Lyon Chandler led the 57th Infantry of the Union army at the Battle of North Anna River. He and his men were over taken, and Lt Colonel Chandler was mortally wounded on the battlefield. The commanding officer of the Confederate Army had him brought to his own tent and stayed with him as he died. This show of respect was not unheard of in military history. What was unusual was that the Confederate officer then had all of Lt Colonel Chandler’s personal effects and the location of his grave sent to his mother, so that he could be reburied after the War.

Lt Colonel Chandler was my great great uncle. When I told this story to a modern-day sutler (a person who sells provisions to soldiers) in Gettysburg, one theory they suggested was that both of these men were Masons, and shared a community that cut through wartime rules of exclusion. A clue in either man’s obituary might announce the death of a “Worthy Brother”, a reference to let the community of Masons know that one of their own had passed.

I will probably never prove this theory of Masonic Brotherhood. The point is that humans are social animals and we seek community. We use community to get us into war — us against them. We cling to community when we need comfort and safe haven, even when we have created the danger by making up reasons to pit us against them.