This week’s “150 Years Ago…” project includes several newspaper accounts from this week in 1860. On the surface, there appears to be nothing important by the way of a Civil War between the North and the South, but something else is brewing.
In a Mississippi paper is noted the existance pubically of a secret organization entitled The Knights of the Golden Circle. This group is reported to have grown in numbers across the South and is currently preparing for war.
The reader may immediately jump to the conclusion that the imminent war is between the North and the South, but this is not the case. There are conflicting factions in Mexico that these men in the K.G.C. are preparing to become involved.
Another paper quoted from Texas in the same week shows troops moving toward the Rio Grande River. This is important to Arkansas Civil War history, as it shows the willingness and preparedness of the South to wage a war against foreign enemies:
NATCHEZ [MS] DAILY FREE TRADER, March 30, 1860, p. 2, c. 3
The K. G. C.—A Few Remarks Thereon.
A society of the K. G. C., or Knights of the Golden Circle, will be formed in this city at an early day. The originators of this mystic order were certain military characters who resided in Lexington, Kentucky—the spring of 1854 being the date of its organization. The first object of the organization was to cultivate a martial spirit among the people of the South. The second object was to have a military organization in the South fully capable of defending our social and political rights from all assaults from our enemies at home and abroad. The past history and present aspects of our political affairs seemed to demand that an organization such as the K. G. C., fully armed and equipped and officered, was absolutely necessary. The order has steadily grown until now it numbers nearly forty thousand members, who are scattered over the Southern States of the Union, and the Northern States of Mexico. No society of the kind has in this country combined such an amount of talent, resources or numbers as has this. If we understand correctly, the present object of the K. G. C., is the invasion of Mexico. I is well known, that in this distracted country a cruel war has raged with scarce an intermission, for the past ten years. The country has been weakened by these intestine feuds; agriculture, commerce and manufacture have languished and the Mexican people have groaned under the oppression and tyranny of rival chieftains. At the present time there are two parties in Mexico, contending for the supremacy of the government. On the one hand stands the church party, with Miramon as their leader. On the other hand stands the liberal party, with Juarez as their leader. Our Minister to Mexico, Mr. McLane, has recently made a treaty with Juarez, which will be one of vast benefit to our government. Our government has already recognized the Liberal party as being the government of Mexico. The K. G. C.’s have already espoused the cause of the Liberals, and we are informed that it is their fixed determination to place it at the head of the Mexican Government, and thus aid them in restoring peace and harmony to a distracted country and an oppressed people. Our citizens will be addressed shortly on the subject of armed intervention in the affairs of Mexico, by one of the most distinguished of the “Knights of the Golden Circle,” when we hope to see a large turn out. We speak what we know, or, as Hamlet would say, “by the Card,” on this subject. The statements we have made in this connection have been derived from parties who are perfectly reliable and who are entitled to respectful consideration. Long live the K. G. C.’s—Vicksburg Sun.
THE RANCHERO [Corpus Christi, TX], March 31, 1860, p. 2, c. 1
A company of Rangers arrived here yesterday from Smith county, en route for the Rio Grande.
THE RANCHERO [Corpus Christi, TX], March 31, 1860, p. 2, c. 3
Knights of the Golden Circle.—This is the name of a new secret order that is now attracting great attention. It is understood to be a military organization, with Mexico for the contemplated field of operation. Military leaders of high attainments are said to be at the head of this secret movement.
These papers were transcribed by Vicki Betts from the University of Tyler, Texas. Her work has not gone unnoticed by Civil War historians across the country. A personal note regarding Betts’ work: anyone who has attempted newspaper research in the 1860’s knows all too well how difficult some of the papers are to read. This lady has done a tremendous job!