Military Order Of The Loyal Legion Of The United States
On April 15, 1865, as word of President Lincoln’s death spread throughout the country, three Union Army Officers, Thomas Ellwood Zell, a former Lt. Colonel in a Pennsylvania Regimen; Samuel Brown Mitchell, commissioned as the Surgeon of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry; and Peter Dirck Keyser who had served in the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry, met in Philadelphia to discuss the tragic news. Rumors from Washington of a conspiracy to destroy the Federal Government by assassination of its headers prompted the three officers to call other officers and former officers together to form an organization that could help thwart future threats to the National Government.
A mass meeting of Philadelphia veterans was held on April 20, 1865 to pledge renewed allegiance to the Union and to plan for the participation in the funeral arrangements for the President. The Philadelphia officers who served as an Honor Guard for President Lincoln’s funeral cortege. In late May of 1865, they met again in Constitution Hall to establish a permanent organization of officers and former officers patterned after the Society of the Cincinnati established after the Revolutionary War. The name they chose was The Military Order Of The Loyal Legion Of The United States (MOLLUS)and it’s motto is, Lex Regent, Arma Tuentur, Laws Rule, Arms Defend.
From the beginning, only veteran commissioned officers of the Unites States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, regular or volunteer, who had served during the Civil War and who had been honorably discharged could become First Class Companions. The Order’s Constitution also allowed for primogeniture where by the first born son of the officers could belong as Second Class members. The Constitution also allowed for First Class Hereditary Companions who were the direct descendants of deceased veteran officers.
Since its inception, the MOLLUS membership has included nearly 12,000 Civil War officers including such notables as Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, George Armstrong Custer, Nelson Miles, Winfield Scott Hancock, David G. Farragut, and five U.S. Presidents including U.S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley.
Today MOLLUS has two classes of membership. Hereditary Membership for those who’s officer ancestor served in the Civil War and Associate Membership for others interested in MOLLUS membership but do not have a qualifying ancestor. For more information about MOLLUS membership, use this link to MEMBERSHIP.