Brief History

On 15 April 1865, as word of President Abraham Lincoln's death spread throughout the country, three Union Army officer friends met in Philadelphia to discuss the tragic news. Rumors from Washington of a conspiracy to destroy the Federal government by assassination of its leaders prompted the three officers to form an organization that could help thwart future threats to the national government.

A mass meeting of Philadelphia veterans was held on 20 April 1865 to pledge renewed allegiance to the Union and to plan for participation in the funeral arrangements for the President. The Philadelphia officers, who served as an honor guard for President Lincoln's funeral cortege, met again after the funeral was over to establish a permanent organization of officers and former officers patterned after the Society of Cincinnati established after the Revolutionary War. The name they chose, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), first appeared in a notice calling a meeting on 31 May 1865 at Independence Hall.

Since its inception, the MOLLUS membership has included nearly 12,000 Civil War officers. At its zenith, MOLLUS counted practically every prominent officer among its ranks. Among them were Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman; Lt. Generals Philip H. Sheridan, George Armstrong Custer, Nelson A. Miles and John M. Schofield; Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, George B. McClellan, Rutherford B. Hayes, David McMurtie Gregg and Grenville M. Dodge; Admiral David G. Farragut; Rear Admirals Bancroft Gherardi and George W. Melville. In addition to Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, Original Companions Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley served as Presidents of the United States.

With the eventual aging of the Original Companions, membership within MOLLUS was eventually changed to provide for Hereditary Companions; descendants of eligible officers. Many Original Companions of MOLLUS were also members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Similarly, many Hereditary Companions of MOLLUS are currently also members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the legal heir to the GAR.

The Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States is composed of a National Commandery-in-Chief and individual state Commanderies. There are currently 18 Commanderies and one Provisional Commandery. The Ohio Commandery was created May 3, 1882.

Objectives of the Order

Objectives - The principal objectives of MOLLUS are to foster military and naval science, promote allegiance to the United States government, perpetuate the memory of those who fought to preserve the unity and indivisibility of the Republic and to honor the memory and promote the ideals of President Abraham Lincoln.

Each year MOLLUS sponsors and participates in a variety of ceremonies and programs designed to promote its Objectives, including:

    • Programs to honor President Abraham Lincoln and events memorializing the Civil War and the men and women who were active in them
    • Supporting efforts to preserve Civil War battlefields and sites
    • Presentations of literary awards to promote further research and writing about Lincoln and Civil War subjects
    • Erecting, restoring and maintaining plaques and monuments commemorating events and personalities of the Civil War
    • Presentations of ROTC awards to further the studies of military and naval science
    • Supporting the operation of the War Library and Museum of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States which was established by MOLLUS.
    • Publishing a quarterly historical journal, The Loyal Legion Historical Journal
    • Engaging in other patriotic and educational activities.