Expose of the Knights of the Golden Circle - Member Knight

Chapter XI.
The K. G. C.#8212;A Formidable Foe

The Military Character of the K.G.C.—"George Washington Lafayette Bickley"—What the South can do; what we must do, etc.

As I have before intimated, the Knights of the Golden Circle are "some military." Ever since 1855, when that lofty specimen of Boone county "chivalry," "George Washington Lafayette Bickley," applied all the powers of his master genius to the improvement and superior organization of the Order, the Knights have practiced regular military drill. For his untiring efforts in this regard, the said George Washington Lafayette Bickley has been created president and commander-in-chief of the "American Legion." The object of the military exercises, or, as they are commonly called, "Articles of War," was to prepare for the "impending crisis." Every castle is, in truth, a regular military company, the State Legions are brigades, and the American Legion is an army. Now, when we come to consider that thousands of castles have been drilling two and three times per week, for several years, we must at once acknowledge that their influence in the present revolution will be considerable.

However much persons may be disposed to ridicule the idea of any just apprehension of danger from the military operations of the K.G.C., I can assure them that they will prove a more formidable foe than any outsider has yet presumed. Their long course of training and preparation, their well-matured, deep-laid plans, and their unscrupulous dishonesty, render them capable of effecting far more than any one not acquainted with their organization would expect of them.

The Knights of the Golden Circle are the secessionists proper, and their history is the history of secession. From a small and insignificant band of kidnappers and fillibusters, they have gradually increased their numbers until they are to be counted by thousands in the Southern States of the Union, and by dozens in the Border Free States. Many of these latter are at this time in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Albany, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, New Albany, Evansville, Cairo, and other border cities. As I have before, said, they are the most dangerous of enemies. Some of them being native born, are not suspicioned. The sign of recognition and the response are never given in a Free State, unless the parties giving them know each other well, and are so situated that their communications will not be detected. They may be justly suspicioned, however, from the following expressions, all of which are knightish:

"The South only wants her rights;" "Better let them go, than involve ourselves in a war which will cost us more than the South is worth;" "O, dear me! the expenses of this war!" "What will the people say when it comes to paying the heavy taxes?" "The South can never be subjugated!" "I never will enlist to fight my brethren of the South;" (brethren means brethren in the real knightish sense;) "The country's in an awful condition—we'll never be as we were, again."

Sometimes an editor of the Knights' school ventures to condemn the "mobocracy of the North" without saying anything of the mobbing proclivities of the South. At other times, as in the case of the editor of the I.S.G., he gives Webster's definition of the term subjugate, and then, as his only comment, asks the question, "Can eleven States, with a population of three millions of people, ever be subjugated?" Let everyone who talks thus be closely watched.

In conversing with many hopeful friends of the Union, since my return from the South, I find the confidence in the superior numbers of the loyal troops, and the greater wealth of the North, entirely too great. I also notice that the numbers, power, and resources of the South are too much underrated. The impression, in fact, seems to be entirely too general. What the secessionists, in consequence of their limited means, scarcity of provisions, inferior numbers, and unholy cause, can endure but a short time. I am truly sorry that this idea has obtained to the extent that it has, calculated as it is, in its very nature, to prove more or less disastrous to the cause of the Union.

In the first place, as has been shown, the Confederate States have nearly all the arms contained in the Government arsenals in the early part of 1860, to which, by an arrangement made in the early part of the spring of 1861, have been added a heavy cargo of the latest and most improved European arms—about twenty thousand; and having seized nearly all the Southern forts, they have secured the greater number of our best, heaviest ordnance, and, therefore, are even better supplied in these regards than we are.

In the second place, they have more provisions than has generally been supposed. During the whole of the winter and spring of 1861, steamboats and flats have been employed by the score in conveying the heaviest loads of provisions from the great Northwestern States; and from what I have seen and heard in New Orleans, and other river towns, I have not the least doubt that many of the principal cities of the South have provisions enough stored away to supply their citizens several years. In addition to this, every effort will now be made to increase the corn and wheat crops in all the Southern States. For a time, at least, they will forget King Cotton, and pay more attention to Emperor Corn. Further, the Confederates will, without doubt, make the strongest efforts to put those stealing schemes, described in previous pages, into vigorous execution, many of which will, in all probability, succeed, on their immediate borders.

In the third place, respecting numbers, they can, without any doubt, muster two hundred thousand fighting men into the field—men of the most desperate and reckless character, who care less for life than they do for a meal's victuals; men of the rough, lower Mississippi order, who have almost from childhood, been accustomed to murder and bloodshed; men who, although naturally cowards, would rather die a thousand times than have the name of being whipped.

In the fourth and last place, as to the cause, the leaders of this great rebellion are fully conscious that, with them, the issue is life or death; that if conquered their lives will be terminated in the most shameful manner and their names handed down to all coming generations as traitors of the blackest stamp; that their children, after them, for many generations, will be disgraced by the deeds of their sires, their names will never be mentioned in history or spoken of by men otherwise than as are the names of Arnold and Burr.

Reflections such as these are the most powerful incentives to bold and determined action that can be presented to human pride and ambition anywhere, and, to the aristocratic leaders of the South, they will prove especially so. The struggle, on their part, therefore, will be powerful and desperate; such a struggle as could be manifested by men in no other condition or circumstances. Every effort in the held, every stratagem which they are capable of inventing, and every species of incendiary destruction, will be applied in the most vigorous manner.

Meantime, the history of the first American Revolution should not be forgotten. It should be remembered that in strength and resources the American colonies were vastly inferior to the government of Great Britain, and yet we conquered our independence. Let none of the revolutionary lessons of the past be overlooked. It is never a good policy to under value the strength and the chances of a foe, if one would be sure of a victory. On the other hand, it is far better to overestimate them. The greatest gold mines in the world are found by looking downward, not upward, and it is always dangerous in passing through a wood to overlook the stones and stubbs in gazing intently at the spreading tops of the tall trees.

But while we concede to the South all that is due it, in the way of strength, facilities, and courage, let us not forget our own power. Nor should we forget the glory of the cause in which we have enlisted: the preservation of this great government, and the perpetuity of our liberties. As with the secessionists, so it is with us, either a matter of life or death, both as a nation and as a people. The world has, for years, been looking to this Republic as the great beacon-light of liberty; the crowned heads of Europe have been long regarding the land of Columbia with jealousy and envy, hoping and praying that our great experiment of self-government might prove a failure. In the mean time, our glorious example has enkindled a burning desire for liberty in the hearts of the people of every surrounding nation, and caused them to revolutionize their despotisms, destroy their feudalisms, modify their monarchies, and improve their aristocracies. The great hall of freedom which our fathers set rolling, has even reached the very heart of old hierarchal Rome, and, by the master-strokes of the immortal Garibaldi, the Papal throne has been shaken to its very center, and tyrants have been made to quake at the rapid strides of the Genius of Liberty. Our own glorious America has advanced in civilization, in science, arts, improvements, and wealth, to an extent unequaled anywhere or at any time in the world's history; the American flag has become an emblem of glory and protection wherever it waves, whether on land or sea and the American citizen is honored and respected by all nations of people.

The memories of the Revolutionary fathers, their unprecedented trials and unequaled victories, have not yet become extinct, nor their invigorating influence lost. Our gray-haired sires and aged mothers, as they totter on the verge of the grave, with their souls weighed with despair, and their hearts pierced with regret, turn with feeble though earnest voice, and entreat us to maintain inviolate the rich inheritance bequeathed us by the Grandsires of Seventy-six; our wives, our sisters, our children, with their souls fraught with the remembrance of past blessings, demand of us a continuance of them in future.

And, last and greatest of all, God, who cleft the waters of the Red Sea, and rolled them to the right hand and to the left, causing his liberated children to walk safely and surely from under the galling yoke of Egypt's tyrant to the wilderness of freedom; God, who fought the battles of Israel, and secured to it the land of promise; God, who liberated the world from sin by the gift of his only-begotten Son; God, who nerved the arm of the immortal Luther to the breaking of the Papal chains of Europe and the defense of religious freedom; God, who directed the Puritan fathers from under the oppressive hand of Britain to the wilderness of North America; God, who heard the prayers of Washington, fought the battles of American independence, secured to us civil and religious liberty, and gave to us this great land, with its innumerable, invaluable blessings. God, who has always been the friend of freedom, and the foe of oppression, commands us to move forward in defense of the right, the maintenance of our government, and the vindication of its flag. These are our incentives, and while they are not calculated to render us so desperate, brutal, and blood-thirsty as those which incite the followers of Lucifer, yet they are fraught with that patriotic glory, virtuous enthusiasm, and holy luster which render the soldier under their influence invincible. Then, let every one of the thousands who are marching under the Banner of the Free be fully imbued with the great fact that he is fighting in the cause of humanity and the cause of God.