A "Northwestern Confederacy" — Schemes of the "Knights of the Golden Circle" — Words of Warning.
For some time past there have been indications of unusual activity among the Copperhead peace faction of the country, and daily accumulating evidences of their purpose to set the Government at defiance and to throw the weight of the Copperhead party on the side of the rebellion. These evidences are to be found, not merely in the daily denunciations of the Government by such treasonable sheets as the Chicago Times, but have a wider range. There are evidences that the scheme for aiding the rebellion by establishing a "Northwestern Confederacy," openly advocated less than a year ago by Dick Merrick and his co-laborers, has not been abandoned; but that the conspiracy has been extending its ramifications until there is a distinct understanding with the rebels of the South and the thousands of secession refugees in Canada likewise. The Detroit Tribune of the 3d inst., alluding to the presence of largely increased numbers of deserters and refugees in Canada, makes the following startling statement in reference to a game said to be on foot:
The number of secession refugees from the North and South now in Canada is several thousand, who, when consolidated and organized, would constitute a very effective fighting force, were it not that the scarcity of arms in Canada forms a serious obstacle to their proposed equipping. The exportation of arms from the United States is prohibited by the existing military regulations, and, accordingly, a wholesale system of smuggling is carried on, by which small arms are carried into Canada. The common method of avoiding the vigilance of the officers on both sides of the river is by concealing a large number of arms in a herring-box with several layers of herrings. As there is no duty on this fish, and a perceptible perfume generally indicates its presence, an apparent laboring man, with a herring-box freighted with fish and weapons, easily crosses without molestation. Many revolvers are bought for this purpose from returned soldiers, and eventually find their way into the hands of those who were and are the deadliest enemies of their original owners. An occasional musket or gun is also conveyed across by some one claiming merely to be on a brief hunting trip for pleasure. The repairing and refitting of these fire-arms is done at a little smithy near the Hirons House. These weapons are then distributed among trusty men, and they go off in squads to the East — few at a time, so as not to attract attention. By various routes and means they cross over into the United States, generally choosing some spot on the eastern frontier, where a less vigilant watch is kept than in this section. Once in our boundary lines, they quietly rendezvous at different stations in southern Illinois and Indiana, where associations are now and have been forming to co-operate with them.
* * * The authorities have recently been placed in possession of all the facts narrated above, and measures have been taken to nip the evil in the bud. For example, a squad of five men, under an individual named Ostrander, one of the leaders in this scheme, left Windsor on Monday last for the East, for the purposes stated above. This fact becoming known to the United States detectives in Canada, information was dispatched which resulted in the summary arrest of the gang on Tuesday, immediately on their arrival on the American side at Niagara Falls. One man subsequently made his escape, but the rest are still confined there, awaiting an investigation into their business and destination. We do not state these facts to alarm, but solely to inform the public of threatening peril, and place them on their guard against impending dangers.
"The design of these movements," says the Tribune "is in the ensuing spring to open ‘a fire in the rear’ by raising the standard of armed disaffection in those sections, and thus distracting the attention and dividing the strength of our armies in the front." The recent hostile demonstrations in Edgar county are referred to as a part of the general scheme, of which it is probably the beginning.
The Washington correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial referring to these schemes, furnishes the following statement:
Very little has been heard of this organization (Knights of the Golden Circle) of late, but they deceive themselves who think it is not still in existence, or that it will not put forth efforts more vigorous than ever during the approaching summer and fall to accomplish its mission, which is directly the disaffection of the northwest on the subject of the war and the restitution of the Union, and indirectly the establishment of the Southern Confederacy, and the annexation to it of the States of Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. William R. Morrison, Democratic Representative from the Twelfth Congressional District of Illinois, stated this fact to a friend yesterday. Mr. Morrison was for two years a colonel in the army, and though now a peace man, refuses to join the "Knights," though he has been importuned to do so. He is well acquainted with the leaders and principal members of the traitorous cabal, and knows whereof he affirms when he says they will try to get control of the elections in the Northwestern States next fall.
A large number of Copperhead members from Indiana and Illinois have gone home within the past two weeks, and for no other purpose than to organize the "Knights." Among those who have gone is William J. Allen representative from one of the southern districts of Illinois — the successor of Gen. Logan. This gentleman, it is well known, wanted to organize the men of Southern Illinois and put them in the rebel army. He tendered the command of them to Logan — so Logan charges him, at any rate — and it is not a secret that in his district he did raise several companies, which he sent South via Paducah, and which were mustered into the rebel service at Union City. During Gen. Grant's campaign in Mississippi, I met a rebel soldier who told me that he was from Southern Illinois, and that he belonged to a company raised by Mr. Allen.
Senator Hendricks, though perhaps not a member of the organization, is pledged to the establishment of a Northwestern Confederacy, and the same may be said of every Indiana Copperhead in Congress, and of all the leading members of the party at home — Judge Eckeis, Jesse D. Eright, and such men.
In this connection it may not be inappropriate to quote the following from an editorial in the Richmond Examiner of the 26th ultimo:
"While the political leaders are thus intelligently arranging their platforms, Indiana, we learn, has become more disloyal than ever. * * * So this year again there are signs of trouble in the great Northwest — not signs of peace with us, but of disintegration and dislocation at home; gracious buds of promise, which with the approach of this election may bloom and blossom into the bloody fruit of revolution."
These "gracious buds of promise" which give the Richmond organ of treason so much delight, and which it hopes "may bloom and blossom into the bloody fruit of revolution," are the indications of hostility to the Government furnished by the Copperheads of the North.
The Chicago Post, (Democratic,) introducing the above extract among others, says:
We have repeatedly pointed out the evil and infamous measures resorted to by the few unprincipled men who have seized the direction of the Democratic party and have rushed it from one calamity to another. These men have actually been aiding the partisan schemes of the Republican party, and, by making the Democratic party odious and offensive to the people, that to avoid the inevitable calamities that would follow the elevation of such men to office, they have preferred retaining the acknowledgedly unfit men of the Republican party. These Democratic leaders, having pushed their desperate fortunes to the worst extremity, now propose the last measure — in fact they propose to rise or fall at the last ditch, and that ditch is the organization of the Democratic party in armed hostility to the Federal Government.
In corroboration of the statements of the Commercial correspondent, the Post publishes the following extract from a letter received by the editor of that paper from a Democratic member of Congress. He says:
"* * I am informed by those who know, that, on the — inst., the ‘dark lantern’ wing of our party, which is now, they claim, most of it, met at —, to consider matters of political concern. I would be glad to know what those fellows do, for if they want to go to h—l, I would like to have reasonable notice. Let me show what is done. I mean, what is done of a political nature; what they do towards instructions in ‘the manly art of self-defense,’ and all that sort of stuff, that I am told they talk about at their meetings is no matter. — and —, and the whole tribe, will run at the ‘first fire.’ But, if the concern has the strength claimed for it, why it may do damage, by leading men into crime, folly, murder and ruin."
The names of places and persons are suppressed, but it is hinted that these may be given by and by. Let it be remembered that the above is the testimony of a Democrat published through a Democratic paper.
The Post lays bare the schemes of these peace traitors as follows: "They desire, first, the defeat of our forces in the field. They desire the overturning of the finances of the country in order to hasten the public mind to an acquiescence in a general breaking up. They propose to force the Democratic party at the Chicago Convention into measures that will produce these results, and part of their scheme is to educate the Democratic party to resist, by force, every act of the Government officers in the execution of military power in the Northern States. If no collision of this kind can be produced, or if produced, fails to applause the people generally, then Vallandigham is to be brought back and his re-arrest is to be resisted by force, and if necessary by blood and revolution. The complexion of the National Convention that meets here on the 4th of July will determine the order of things. If that Convention promises to be a war convention of the Horatio Seymour kind, then an attempt will be made by previous violence and collision with the Federal officers, to force that Convention into an attitude of declared resistance to the Government. If that Convention promises to be a peace convention, such as is advocated by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in which the war in its inception, prosecution and continuance will be denounced as unconstitutional and not deserving or requiring the support, aid or countenance of any citizen, and which will declare a purpose to accomplish an immediate peace with all the inevitable consequences, then in all probability a resort to violence will be postponed until the convention shall declare such to be the duty of all Democrats. But the general purpose, place and end of the whole faction is to "fire the Democratic heart" to open rebellion against the Federal Government before the Presidential election. Against such a wicked and infamous prostitution of the Democratic organization it is the duty of every Democrat and of every citizen to protest, and it is his duty to denounce and repudiate every man, however remotely connected with such a treasonable and diabolical plot, — a plot which if even partially successful, will deluge the country with blood, will convert our streets into avenues for daily strife, and overturn all respect for law, and all security for life and property."