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1864 October 22: The Battle of Tom’s Brook

October 23, 2014

The following article about the Battle of Tom’s Brook appeared in the October 22, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The Battle was fought on October 9, 1864, during Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Sheridan’s Cavalry Victory.

The Herald’s correspondent with Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan], dating October 9th, after stating that Sheridan,—having driven Early [Jubal A. Early] out of the valley, destroyed all the grain, forage and rendered the surrounding country untenable for another rebel army, determined to return and take a position nearer his base of supplies.  Where he was, at Harrisonburg, his subsistence had to be hauled in wagons almost 100 miles.

On retiring he was not followed by any considerable numbers of rebels until the 8th, when a large force of cavalry, under Rosser,¹ made their appearance and attacked a portion of our cavalry.  They were handsomely repulsed but bivouacked for the night.  The next morning, Sheridan having halted the principal portion of his command in the vicinity of Fisher’s Hill, instructed Gen. Torbert [Alfred T. A. Torbert] to attack the enemy and drive him away from such close proximity to our rear.

Torbert at once carried out the order.  Custar’s [sic: George A. Custer] and Merritt’s [Wesley Merritt] divisions made a vigorous assault on the enemy at an early hour on the morning of the 9th, on the right.  Merritt’s division occupied a position on the Winchester [turn]pike, about midway between Strasburg and Woodstock, and on the left Custar’s [sic] division occupied a position near Tom’s Creek, on the back road, about two miles closer to the mountains.

Custar [sic] advanced first with his cavalry and horse artillery.  He made a bold attack, and drove the enemy back about a mile, to a strong position on a brook.  There the enemy made a determined stand.  The rebels were advantageously posted on a commanding hill.  Barricades and breastworks of rails and stones contributed considerably to strengthen the position, which was naturally formidable.  General Custar [sic], however, threw in his whole command and made three magnificent charges, and at last carried the position by assault.  At the same time a junction was formed with Gen. Merritt on the turnpike.  Sharp skirmishing in the front did not seem to indicate anything decisive, till Devens’ [sic: Devin's, Thomas C. Devin] brigade succeeded la striking the enemy on the flank.–This produced consternation in the rebel ranks in Merrill’s front.  The whole of Devin’s line then pushed forward and followed the enemy, who was now in full retreat.

The retreat was soon turned into a perfect rout.  Custar [sic] and Merritt pursued the flying fugitives, capturing guns, caissons, wagons, a herd of cattle and several hundred prisoners.  The enemy were driven in great disorder through Woodstock, Edenburg and Mount Jackson, a distance of more than 26 miles.  The rebel Gen. Lomax² had a very narrow escape from capture.

1.  Thomas Lafayette Rosser (1836-1910), known as “Tex,” attended West Point but left when Texas seceded in April of 1861. Despite being on opposite sides, he and his West Point room mate, George A. Custer, remained good friends. Rosser commanded the 2nd Company of New Orleans’ “Washington Artillery” at the First Battle of Bull Run, where he shot down one of General George B. McClellan’s observation balloons. As a captain, he commanded his battery during the Seven Days Battles, and was severely wounded at Mechanicsville. He was then promoted to colonel of the 5th Virginia Cavalry and commanded the advance of J.E.B. Stuart’s expedition to Catlett’s Station. At the Second Battle of Bull Run he captured General John Pope’s orderly and horses. Rosser also fought at the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Kelly’s Ford, where he was badly wounded, and Gettysburg. He was promoted to brigadier general and fought at the Battle of the Wilderness, Trevilian Station, where he was wounded again, in the Shenandoah Valley, at Cedar Creek and Tom’s Brook. For no tactical reason, Custer chased Rosser’s troops for over 10 miles and the action became known as the “Woodstock Races” in Union accounts. Rosser became known in the Southern press as the “Saviour of the Valley,” and was promoted to major general in November 1864. Rosser commanded a cavalry division during the Siege of Petersburg in the spring of 1865. Rosser was conspicuous during the Appomattox Campaign, capturing a Union general and rescuing a wagon train near Farmville. He led a daring early morning charge at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, and escaped with his command as Lee surrendered the bulk of the Army of Northern Virginia. After the War, he became chief engineer of the eastern division of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and later was chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific. On June 10, 1898, President William McKinley appointed Rosser a brigadier general of United States Volunteers during the Spanish-American War.
2.  Lunsford Lindsay Lomax (1835-1913) graduated from West Point in 1856, remaining good friends with classmate Fitzhugh Lee. He was assigned to the prestigious 2nd Cavalry regiment and served in Bleeding Kansas. Resigning from the army in April 1861, he became a captain in the Virginia state militia and was assigned to Joseph E. Johnston’s staff. He was appointed colonel of the 11th Virginia Cavalry in time for the Gettysburg campaign, and was promoted to brigadier general aftermath the battle. Lomax fought under Fitzhugh Lee from Culpeper Courthouse through the Battle of the Wilderness and around Petersburg. He was promoted to major general in August 1864 and was assigned to Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley. In command of the Valley District, he supervised the intelligence-gathering operations of Mosby’s Rangers. When Richmond was evacuated in 1865, Lomax tried to join forces with John Echols’s men at Lynchburg, Virginia, but unable to do so he surrendered with Joe Johnston in North Carolina.

1864 October 22: First News of the Battle of Cedar Creek

October 22, 2014

Following is the weekly summary of war news from The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of October 22, 1864.

The Battle of Cedar Creek took place on October 19, 1864, and was the final battle of Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign.  Confederate General Jubal A. Early launched a surprise attack against the encamped army of Union General Philip H. Sheridan, across Cedar Creek, northeast of Strasburg, Virginia.

From The Polk County Press:

News Summary.

In Sherman’s Department there has been lively work.  Hood with his whole force has made an attempt to break Sherman’s communications, and with some successes, though no serious damage has been done.  Gen. Slocum has command at Atlanta, and has supplies for four months on hand.  Hood captured Dalton and Resaca, but he was so closely pressed by Sherman that he was obliged to retreat.  Hood’s losses exceed ours.—He managed to break up 28 miles of railroad, but was obliged to retreat with haste.  Our forces are still pressing him, and at last accounts skirmishing was going on with his rear guard.  [William T. Sherman, John Bell Hood, Henry W. Slocum]

—  Grant is still operating in front of Richmond.  No new movements are reported.  His army is being heavily reinforced.  Grant is slow but sure.  Things look encouraging, in his department.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

—  Sheridan has fought still another battle with Early’s rebels under Gen. Longstreet.  The engagement took place at Cedar Mountain [sic] and was a hotly contested battle.  No decided result gained by either side.—The rebels fell back with severe loss.  Our loss is reported at 240 killed and wounded.  [James Longstreet]

—  Important movements are being made to defeat Price in Missouri.—We soon expect good news from that quarter.  [Sterling Price]

—  The department of the Gulf is active.  Important movements may soon be expected to be announced in that direction.

—  Guerillas [sic] are disturbing the peace in Kentucky again.  A train was captured near Paris, and Hon. Montgomery Blair was taken prisoner.  He subsequently escaped.  Gen. Meredith¹ is after the guerillas [sic] with a sharp stick.

— A peace convention is in session at Cincinnati with closed doors.

— On the 14th inst., Col. Gransevort, 13th N. Y. Cavalry, surprised Mosby the gurilla [sic] chief at a place called Pigeon, Va., and routed him capturing four pieces of cannon, and a number of prisoners.  [John S. Mosby]

— Alexander H. Stevens [sic] of Georgia, vice President of the so called Southern Confederacy, has written a letter on Peace.  He thinks there is hope of southern independence in the Chicago Platform.  [Alexander H. Stephens]

— Gen. Butler on learning that the negro prisoners captured by the rebels were forced to work on rebel fortifications, has placed an equal number of white rebel soldiers at work on the Dutch Gap Canal.  [Benjamin F. Butler]

— Jeff. Davis’ speech at Macon, Ga., the other day, was a “whine.”  He begged the Georgians to fill the ranks of the rebel army in their State, and told them troops were as scarce in Virginia as in Georgia.—is showing of the rebel situation was was [sic] not calculated to encourage the Georgians.  [Jefferson Davis]

From The Prescott Journal:

— SHERIDAN has won another magnificent victory in the Shenandoah Valley—completely routing Longstreet, taking 43 cannon and a large number of prisoners.

— The latest news from Pennsylvania, gives a small Union majority on the home vote.  The army vote will increase it to 20,000.

— Hood has been operating with considerable force in Sherman’s rear, but Sherman keeps his communications open and is pressing Hood closely.

— Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States, is dead.  He was 87 years of age.  He was made notorious on addount [sic] of the famous Dred Scott decision.  It is stated that he will probably be succeeded by S. P. Chase.  [Salmon P. Chase]

1.  Solomon Meredith (1810-1875) was a 6′ 7″ tall farmer, politician, and lawman in Indiana before the Civil War. He recruited and organized the 19th Indiana Infantry and was its first colonel. The 19th Indiana joined the x, x, and x Wisconsin infantries to form the Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. Meredith was injured at Brawner’s Farm (August 28, 1862) and at the Battle of South Mountain abruptly reported himself unfit for duty due to the lingering effects of his injuries at Brawner’s Farm and fatigue. His replacement was killed at the Battle of Antietam, earning the disdain of General John Gibbon. Due to politics, Meredith was promoted to brigadier general and he led the Iron Brigade in combat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where he drew the ire of General Abner Doubleday, who temporarily replaced him with Colonel Lysander Cutler. The Iron Brigade saw little combat in the Chancellorsville Campaign, but suffered significant casualties during the first day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. Meredith was severely wounded and disabled, unfit for further field command. He commanded two Mississippi River port garrisons—at Cairo, Illinois, and Paducah, Kentucky. After the War, he served as the surveyor general of the Montana Territory (1867-1869) and retired to his farm and raised prize-winning long-horn cattle, sheep, and horses.

1864 October 15: Warren Knowles Promoted to Captain, Lincoln Clubs Organized, George W. Chapin Dies

October 21, 2014

Following are the smaller news items from the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

Finger002 The funeral of Capt. HYATT, last Sabbath, was largely attended by the Masons of this city, and of Hastings and River Falls.

Finger002 Thirty-seven of the sixty drafted men from this county have been exempted.  They speak in high terms of the courtesy of the Board of Examination.

Finger002 WARREN P. KNOWLES, of River Falls, 1st Lieut. Co. G, 4th Wis. Cavalry, is home on furlough—the first leave of absence he has had during three and a half years of service.  Warren is an efficient officer, and since he left the Regiment has been promoted to a Captaincy to fill the place of Captain KEEFE, now Major.  Warren is a strong Democrat but don’t go for either the Chicago Platform or nominees.

ADJ. GEN. GAYLORD.—The Beloit Journal pays the following deserved compliment to Adjutant Gen. Gaylord [Augustus Gaylord] :

No man in the State has done more in private and official position to crush the rebellion than Gen. Gaylord. His office is a model of correctness and in all its depar[t]ments order well for the State and our gallant soldiers that Gen. Gaylord has charge of the military record at the State.  A man of great executive ability and sterling integrity.

CONGRESSIONAL NOMINATIONS.—The Congressional nominations for this State are now complete.  They are as follows :




I.  . .

Halbert E. Paine. John W. Cary.

II.  . .

Ithamar C. Sloan. George B. Smith.

III.  . .

Amasa Cobb. Charles G. Rodolf.

IV.  . .

 Scott Sloan. Chas. A. Eldredge.

V.  . .

Philetus Sawyer. Gabriel Boock.

VI.  . .

D. McIndoe. Henry Reed.


LINCOLN CLUBS.—A Lincoln Club has been formed at River Falls. C. B. Cox President, R. J. Wilcox Secretary, and A. D. Andrews Treasurer. Its meetings will be held each Saturday evening.

A Lincoln Club has been organized in Oak Grove, W. C. Dennison President, I. F. Maynard Secretary, J. A. Stirrait Treasurer.

The Union men in each town should organize and prepare to poll their entire vote.

Finger002 The meetings of the Lincoln Club in this city on Friday evenings are fully attended.  Last week, Capt. Maxson gave a very interesting account of Sherman’s campaign.

Finger002 The Democrats are claiming a victory in Ohio and Pennsylvania, simply because they were not beat quite to death.  They claim a victory in Maine, where they lost the only Congress man they had.  We wish them many more such victories.

Finger002 Mr. G. W. Chapin, of River Falls who recently went into the Government service in Tennessee as a mechanic, returned last week, and in poor health, and died after three days illness.

Finger002 We hope our readers will not fail to carefully read the testimony on the trial of H. H. Dodd, of Indiana, in this paper.  The evidence is incontestable that the “Sons of Liberty” is a treasonable organization, and many of the Democratic leaders are in secret league to overthrow the Government.

1864 October 15: The Military Aspects of the KGC’s Treasonous Plan

October 20, 2014

Harrison Horton Dodd (1824-1906) was a founder of the Order of Sons of Liberty (OSL), a paramilitary secret society that was a continuation and/or extension of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC).  The basic goal of the organization was to thwart the war efforts of the Union—especially as epitomized in the war policies of Abraham Lincoln and his close political and military allies—while still remaining citizens of the United States.  By all accounts Dodd was the most important Copperhead in Indianapolis.

On August 20, 1864, Dodd’s Indianapolis offices were raided by the Union military, who recovered thousands of ammunition rounds and 400 revolvers.  Several of his co-conspirators, including William A. Bowles, were arrested, but Dodd managed to escape to Canada.  Dodd and his co-conspirators were convicted of treason by a military commission, and sentenced to be hanged.   On May 31, 1865, President Andrew Johnson commuted their sentences to life imprison. The conviction was appealed through the federal courts, and on April 3, 1866, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase issued a habeas corpus freeing them.  The case ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional.

The following article from the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal has been split into three postings due to the length.  This is the third, and final, section.


The “Sons of Liberty” in Court. 

T h e   T r i a l   o f   H.  H.  Dodd.

Democrats Conspiring with Rebels.

Arrangement for Co-operating.

Confederate Authorities to Furnish Arms.

The Case of HARRISON H. DODD, a leading Democrat in Indiana, charged with conspiring against the Government, as a member of a secret disloyal and treasonable association, began at Indianapolis on the 27th ult., before the military commission, Gen. COLGROVE, President.  The following is some of the testimony:

[Park 3]


Cross examination of Felix. S. Stidyer [sic: Stidger], witness for the Government, by J. W. Gordon, counsel for the defence.  Was engaged as a government detective.  Had served in the army in the 15th Kentucky for sixteen months.  Had met Dr. Bowles in the lodges, where the ritual and colloquies of the Order were gone through with.  Witness then gave his name J. J. Grundy.  All the members of the American Knights were not admitted into the Order of the Sons of Liberty.  The latter Order was in all its essentials exactly like the Order of the American Knights, but they admitted into the Order of the Sons of Liberty only such as were considered true to the principles of the Order and were deemed reliable and worthy of admission.  The title of the Order was changed from O. A. K. to O. S. L. and some additions were made to the ritual of the Order, among which was the motto “Resistance to Tyrants is obedience to God,”¹ which was introduced as a part of the colloquy or secret sign of recognition between members ;  the two persons pronouncing the alternate words.  This motto was said by members, to have been introduced by Vallandigham.  The New York committee had revised the ritual.  Dr. Bowles gave the witness a programme of the operations of the Order.  Illinois was to furnish fifty thousand, who were to concentrate at St. Louis, and to co-operate with Missouri, which was to furnish thirty thousand ;  and these combined forces were to co-operate with Price [Sterling Price], who was to invade Missouri with 20,000 men, or what force Jeff. Davis could furnish, and that the 100,000 in all were to hold Missouri against any Federal force brought against them.  Indiana was to furnish 40,000 to  60,000 men to co-operate with whatever force Ohio might send, and all these then to be thrown into Louisville, and were to co-operate with whatever force Jeff. Davis could sent to eastern Kentucky, under Buckner [Simon B. Buckner] and Breckinridge [John C. Breckinridge], or whoever Jeff. Davis might deem best to conduct the operations.  This was the programme which Bowles gave the witness on his first visit, in the early part of May, 1864.  The object of witness’ visit to Bowles was to know what he knew of the conspiracy.

At Salem, Ind., he became acquainted with Heffren, who was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in an Indiana regiment.  He told witness that he was expecting a commission in the Confederate forces then in Kentucky, and some of the forces of Forrest [Nathan B. Forrest], who had disbanded after the massacre at Fort Pillow.  He thought witness might be his commissioner.  Before being introduced to Heffren, he had a conversation with John           , who spoke of Heffren as one of the Butternut tigers of that county.  He said he had been at Indianapolis a few days before, consulting with H. H. Dodd about calling a meeting of the Grand Council of the State, and that it would be between the 13th and 17th of June.  He further told witness that he and Dodd were the only two men who had a right to call the members of the Order together, and that it would number between 75,000 and 80,000 men.  With this information witness went to visit Dr. Bowles a second time.—Bowles had been from home, but no one at the house knew where.  Bowles had been to Indianapolis where there had been a meeting of some of the chiefs of the Order.  Judge Bullitt, of Kentucky, Barrett, of Missouri, and some of the chiefs of Indiana, were there.  The occupation on Sunday was testing and experimenting with this Greek fire in the basement of some building.  The matter Bowles said they had got to answer perfectly.  At the Indianapolis meeting, Missouri was pledged for thirty thousand, and Illinois for fifty thousand, to co-operate with Price.  Indiana, Bowles said at that time, would furnish forty thousand.

With respect to this contemplated assassination of Wm. Coffin, the United States detective, Judge Bullit, Mr. Piper, Mr. Chambers, of Gallatin county, Tenn. ;  D. C. Whips, of Louisville, Ky. ;  Dr. Kolfus, and myself had a conference.  Some others were present.  This was the first or second of June.—The witness told them that it was the decision of Dr. Bowles that Coffin should be murdered, or, as Bowles said, that he had been instrumental in getting him into the Order, he ought to assist in getting him out of it.  Bowles told witness to tell Dodd to set two men on his track, and that he was to be made away with.  Dr. Gattling was present in Dodd’s office when he was speaking of the murder of Coffin, but did not think he took part in it.  He was invited to the house of Wm. Harrison, and had some conversation about the Order.  About forty or fifty members were present.

At the Grand Council at Indianapolis on the 14th of June, Dodd said that if Coffin had penetrated the secrets of the Order, he ought to be made way with.  Gattling was present at the Indianapolis meeting when they expressed a unanimous opinion that Coffin ought to be murdered.  There was no vote taken on the subject.  Dodd was the only one who volunteered to go to Hamilton to assist in the assassination of Coffin.  McBride said he would like to go, but circumstances prevented this.  McBride was a large, fleshy man, of medium height, 40 years of age or more.  Dodd, Bowles and the witness went on the cars to Hamilton, and Milligan met them there, but they did not find Coffin.  They spent nearly all of one day in Ristine’s office, waiting for young Ristine to point out Coffin, should he pass.  He saw Coffin toward the latter part of the day ;  knew Coffin before, and merely feigned ignorance ;  did not know why the uprising failed, but got the programme from Dodd.   Bullitt was arrested on Saturday, and Dodd gave witness the programme on Wednesday or Thursday of the same week.  Witness went to Bowles, who told him they had agreed on it at Chicago.—He understood that Bowles had a message from Dodd that the programme would not take place.  That message was sent by a boy thirteen or fourteen years old, whom he knew.  He met him between Paoli and Bowles’ residence.  Bowles said he might yet consent to the uprising if they got the co-operation of the rebel colonels, Jesse, Sippert and Walker, in Kentucky.  Dodd confided the insurrectionary scheme to but few.  He said he talked freely about such matters only to Harrison and witness.  He did not confide much in Vorrhees, who seemed to be in the confidence of the organization.  The rebel officer who got the work of the order in Kentucky, was Col. Anderson, of the 3d Kentucky Cavalry, who knew Dr. Kolfus, who gave him the vestibule and first degree.  Witness gave him the second and third degrees by order of Kolfus.

George E. Pugh, of Cincinnati, was sworn and examined as to whether certain letters to Dodd and Voorhees [Daniel W. Voorhees] offered in evidence were in Vallandigham’s hand-writing.  He identified them as such, because he had seen him write many letters and had received many from him.  The counsel for the defense were satisfied on that point.  The only letter of Vallandigham’s yet admitted is as follows :


H. H. Dodd, Esq. :

DEAR SIR :  That District Convention is at last fixes–Hamilton, Butler county, June 15.  Be there and brings friends and speakers.  Don’t fall [fail].    (Signed)        C. L. VALL.

Your letter with names received all right.

Jos. Kirkpatrick, of N. Y. City, a dealer in arms, was sworn and examined in reference to purchase of arms shipped to J. J. Parsons & Co., of this city.  He identified the arms found In Dodd’s office, as those sold by him to a man who represented himself as Harris.  They were marked by Harris, who paid for them. “J. J. Parsons & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana.”  He sold him 290 revolvers, and contracted to furnish him 2,500 more, and 135,000 pistol cartridges. He judged from what Harris first said that they were to be shipped to Mexico.

Wm. Clayton, a witness for the Government, was then introduced.  He resided in Warren county, Illinois ;  was a member of the Order of American Knights, and since that, of the Order cf the Sons of Liberty ;  was initiated into the three degrees ;  entered and continued in the Order in good faith ;  was admitted a member on the 1st of July, 1863.  He was initiated by Dr. McCartney and a man by the name of Griffith, residing in Monmouth county, Illinois ;  couldn’t remember the obligation he took on entering the Order, but bad the ritual of the first degree of the O. A. K.  The concluding portion of the obligation is as follows :  “I do further promise that I will, at all times, if needs be, take up arms in the cause of the oppressed of my country, first of all against any Monarch, Prince, Power or Government which may be found in arms against a people or peoples who are endeavoring to establish or have inaugurated a government for themselves, of their free choice in accordance with, and founded upon the eternal principles of truth which I have first sworn on the vestibule, and now in this presence do swear to maintain inviolate and defend with my life.  This I do promise without reservation or equivocation of mind, without regard to the name, station, condition or designation of the invading or coercing power, whether it shall arise from within or came from without, all this I do solemnly promise and swear sacredly to observe, perform and keep, with a full knowledge and understanding, and with my full assent that the penalty which will follow a violation of any or either of these most solemn vows will be a sudden and shameful death, while my name shall be consigned to infamy, while this sublime Order shall survive the wrecks of time, and even until the last faithful brother shall have passed from earth to his service in the ‘temple.’ ”  Witness took the second degree in the fall of 1863, and the third degree in the spring of 1864.  There was no essential difference between the O. A. K. and O. S. L.  After he took the second degree in the O. A. K., the Order was changed to the Order of the Sons of Liberty.  The same officers controlled both Orders.  He was still in the Order and met last, two weeks ago.  The place of meeting was in the woods.  He had held an office in the Order :  namely, that of Lecturer of the Vestibule.  The organization was first contemplated to bring the Democratic party into power, and was only understood to be a political organization.  Afterwards the officers informed the members that it was a military organization.  The authorities who had control of the Government were said to be tyrannical ;  that they were trampling us under foot, and that we should have to resist by force of arms, and the members of the Order expected to rise to maintain their rights.  The O. S. L. frequently drilled, and have been drilling for a year.  About two-thirds of the Order were armed, some with rifles and others with revolvers and shotguns.  The muster roll of their township was over one hundred.  Dr. McCartney, who is the Grand Seigneur of the county, informed the members that there were forty thousand in the Stats of Illinois, well armed, and that they could depend upon eighty thousand in that State.  There were about forty thousand in Missouri, twenty thousand being in St. Louis and the vicinity.  The officers said that between May and June there was to be an invasion at three points into Ohio, to be led by Morgan or Wheeler ;  into Indiana, to be led by Longstreet, and into Missouri, to be led by Marmaduke or Price, and, in case the rebels came into Illinois, the brethren of the organization were to shake hands and be friends.

An assessment was made on the lodges for the purchase of arms.  Their lodge was assessed for two hundred dollars.  It was collected by a Colonel Barry, or Barrett, of St. Louis.  The arms were to come from Nassau to Canada, and were to be brought to the Canada line by the Confederate authorities, but the Order was to pay the cost of transportation from Nassau to the Canada line.  It was understood in the Order that the signal for the uprising would be given by the Supreme Commander, C. L. Vallandigham.  Next to him in command was Robert Holloway, of Missouri.—There were lieutenants and captains, or colonels, in the Order, and a major-general for each Congressional District.  The penalty for divulging the secrets of the Order was death.  Since the exposure of the Order in St. Louis, and especially of this case, the Order was disposed to be quiet and do but little.  The present invasion of Missouri was made known to the Order in his locality by one of Quantrell’s men, who said that Price would be in Missouri by October 1st, and stay there until after the election, and as much longer as he could.—The Order in Illinois made no effort to assist him, if he came in.  The late exposure had stopped their operations.  Their Temples met, but had quit drilling.  The American Knights were organized in Illinois by P. C. Wright of Mississippi or Louisiana, who came to Springfield (Ill.), to a Mass Democratic Convention, June 17, I863, and organized Lodges and instituted a General Council, which appointed two officers for each county to organize County Temples.  Wright is editor of the New York News now.  He sent a circular to our lodge.  A lithographed copy of this circular, dated January, 1864, in which he spoke of the News as the O. S. L.’s especial organ, and asking their aid in circulating it, was identified by the witness as the same shown to the Lodge by Dr. McCartney, of Monmouth (Ill.), the Grand Seigneur of the Warren County Temple.  The witness gave the mode of testing a brother in the Order.

Without closing his testimony, the Commission adjourned to 2 P. M., Monday.

1.  A quote from Thomas Jefferson, the third U. S. president.

1864 October 15: Details of the Insurrectionary Movement in Indiana

October 19, 2014

Harrison Horton Dodd (1824-1906) was a founder of the Order of Sons of Liberty (OSL), a paramilitary secret society that was a continuation and/or extension of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC).  The basic goal of the organization was to thwart the war efforts of the Union—especially as epitomized in the war policies of Abraham Lincoln and his close political and military allies—while still remaining citizens of the United States.  By all accounts Dodd was the most important Copperhead in Indianapolis.

On August 20, 1864, Dodd’s Indianapolis offices were raided by the Union military, who recovered thousands of ammunition rounds and 400 revolvers.  Several of his co-conspirators, including William A. Bowles, were arrested, but Dodd managed to escape to Canada.  Dodd and his co-conspirators were convicted of treason by a military commission, and sentenced to be hanged.   On May 31, 1865, President Andrew Johnson commuted their sentences to life imprison. The conviction was appealed through the federal courts, and on April 3, 1866, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase issued a habeas corpus freeing them.  The case ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional.

The following article from the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal has been split into three postings due to the length.  This is the middle section.


The “Sons of Liberty” in Court. 

T h e   T r i a l   o f   H.  H.  Dodd.

Democrats Conspiring with Rebels.

Arrangement for Co-operating.

Confederate Authorities to Furnish Arms.

The Case of HARRISON H. DODD, a leading Democrat in Indiana, charged with conspiring against the Government, as a member of a secret disloyal and treasonable association, began at Indianapolis on the 27th ult., before the military commission, Gen. COLGROVE, President.  The following is some of the testimony :

[Part 2]


Felix G. Stidger, a witness for the government, continued his testimony.  Saw Mr. Harrison¹ at Dodd’s.  He complained that the Order was dilatory in their uprising against the government ;  believed that they had not arms enough to be of service ;  Dodd said if they did not openly resist he’d be d—d if he would live under the present administration.  This was about the last Friday in July.  Harrison was Grand Secretary of the State of Indiana.  In respect to the contemplated assassination of Coffin, he said they expected to find him at Hamilton, at the Vallandigham meeting ;  pick a quarrel with him, if possible, and shoot him.

The roll of the Parent Temple of Marion county, Ind., was here shown to the witness, when he was asked to designate the names of such members as he knew belonged to the Order of the Sons of Liberty.  He named W. M. Harrison, H. H. Dodd, Joseph Ristine and Dr. Athon.²  A letter was written to Dodd, Bowles and Ristine, signed Dick, supposed to be written by Dick Bright, warning them against Coffin, saying that he was a United States detective, and reported everything they did.  Wilson met other persons in the Grand Council from other parts of the country:  an old gentleman by the name of Otey, Dr. Lemmers, a Judge Borden from Allen county, Mr. Everett of Vanderburg county, Mr. Leech of the Burnt District, Union county, Mr. Myers of Laporte county, and Mr. A. D. Koga of New Amsterdam.  The witness became acquainted with these persons on the 14th of June ;  was not sure that Mr. Lasalle, of Cass county was there.  He was elected a member of the Supreme Council of the United States.  John G. Davis was elected on the same day.  Mr. H. Heffren was a member of the Order ;  witness met him in Salem, Ind., twice ;  he was the Deputy Grand Commander of the State of Indiana.  He was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel of an Indiana regiment ;  and he told witness that he and Dodd had the right to call the Order together at any time that they might think proper ;  and he also said that the object and intent of the organization was to co-operate with the Confederate forces.  The first time he saw the witness he took him for a commissioner from the Confederate forces ;  told witness that there were seven regiments of Forrest’s men disbanded in Kentucky to remain at home for a time, and to concentrate when necessary.  A gentleman asked Heffren why a certain lady was sent to Salem, Indiana.  He said they expected trouble in Kentucky, and it would be safer in Salem, Indiana, than in Kentucky.  He met a man by the name of Piper in Louisville, who said he resided in Springfield, Illinois.  He was a member of the Order, and said he was on the staff with Vallandigham.  Piper was present at the meeting of the Grand Council in Kentucky, and assisted in opening the meeting.  He said that James A. Barrett, formerly of St. Louis, was their chief of Vallandigham’s staff, and that Captain Hines, of the rebel army, had had charge of the releasing of the rebel prisoners at Johnson’s island.  Piper said he had a communication from Vallandigham to Bowles, giving him charge of the releasing of the rebel prisoners at Rock Island, which was to be done at the same time.  Hines was then in Canada waiting for the order to be given and the time to come.  Hines was afterward captured with John Morgan.  Piper also said that he had attended a meeting of the Grand Council of Illinois ;  that they had passed a resolution that if Kentucky considered it advisable to resist the enlistment of negroes, the members of the Order would prevent the Illinois regiments, or Loyal Leagues as they are called by the Copperheads, from being sent out of the State by the Government to enforce it ;  that the resolution was unanimously passed by the Grand Council of Illinois.

A conical shell about the size of a 32-pounder, was here handed to the witness.  He said he saw a similar shell to that at Bocking’s room at the Louisville Hotel, about the 29th or 30th of June.  Bowles, Colfus, Charley Miller and others were there.  The lower part or butt of the shell, which being unscrewed, showed another, inside of which was an iron case to contain the powder.  Round this was an aperture to contain the liquid Greek fire, and this inner shell being loose and furnished with a percussion cap, caused an explosion on its striking or falling on any object.  This infernal machine was intended to be used for the destruction of Government property.  A spherical hand grenade about three inches in diameter was here produced, which being unscrewed in the center, showed an inner shell furnished with several nipples for percussion caps.  The inner shell was to contain the powder and bullets, and the aperture between the inner an outer shell the liquid Greek fire.4  The shell or hand grenade on being thrown at any object would explode immediately when it touched any object.  Everything near it would be ignited.  This infernal machine was also explained to those persons named.  Bowles told the witness that Greek fire had been used for the destruction of two boats at Louisville in the spring, and also for a number of boats down the river in April or May.  This Greek fire on breaking, he said, would ignite instantly or it might be made to ignite sometime afterward.

 The order known as American Knights had been changed, as Dodd said, by Judge Bullitt and Mr. Colfus, to the Order of the Sons of Liberty, and Dodd wanted me to distribute a new pamphlet or ritual of the Order throughout the State.  The commands of the chiefs of the Order were paramount to all other laws or orders, and were to be obeyed in opposition to any civil laws or orders of the Government.

The cross examination was lengthy.  Stidger’s testimony was strengthened, many new points against the prisoner and the Order being developed.  The witness had joined the order as a detective, but was supposed to be a bona fide member by the Order.  He had been assigned this work by Provost Marshal Jones, of Louisville.  He did not give any opinion of his own as to Coffin’s assassination, but Judge Bullitt’s opinion.  Dodd and others concurred in that opinion.  He never met Coffin in lodges.  He knew him, but did not communicate anything to him.  Gatling was present at the meeting of the Order where Coffin’s assassination was discussed.  The witness was asked for a description of Milligan and Humphrey [sic], which was quite correct.

In reference to the military character of the Order, he testified that he did not know, personally, that they were armed or drilled, but was told that at the West they were arming, while from the East they expected money.  It extended over Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky.  Dodd told him that he was at Chicago at the meeting of July 26th, and said “we came to such conclusions there.”  Their design was to confine the war to Kentucky by marching their forces there and co-operating with the rebel forces against the Government, and join then at Louisville.  It was a scheme in aid of the rebellion.  Dodd and Bowles were confident of success.  Dr. Athon counseled caution.  He was present at the meeting of the Grand Council, June 14th.  He advised delay until they were more thoroughly organized, and till they could see what they could do at the polls.  The counsel asked the witness whether Athon did not counsel delay until they know whether the election was to be controlled by bayonets.  Witness replied :  He said they should use their military power at the polls if the Government undertook to control them, and that there would be a time when it would be proper to use their military power against the Government, but it was best to wait till after the election.  Athon so stated to me at his office.  Judge Bullitt told me Athon gave him the same opinion.  Before that, Mike Bright, Jesse D. Bright’s brother, had given Butler the same opinion.  He thought twenty thousand men could be raised in this State for insurrectionary movements.  Vallandigham was elected Supreme Commander in New York, February 22d.  The witness understood from Piper that Vallandigham had knowledge of this insurrectionary movement ;  had given his sanction to it and had supreme control.  The particular day to rise was to be designated by him.  Wilson did not know that he knew of the action in this State, but understood he did of the action in Chicago.  The unwritten work of the Order is its signs, &c., and its secret insurrectionary designs, and armed cooperation with the South.  Dr. Bowles said he knew of a man who would furnish arms of any kind and quality any time the Order would designate.

The committee of thirteen appointed on the 14th of July were to act in the recess of the Grand Council, and their acts to be as legal as those of the Council itself.  Bocking explained his Greek fire at his room in the Louisville Hotel.  Bowles said he was a member.  Assisting the South was discussed before him, and he said his machine was the very thing they needed.  Bowles said they had tested Bocking and sent him to Canada, and made him spend his money in testing this machine for the benefit of the Order, and to experiment with it for the destruction of Government property.  Bowles, Dodd, Bullitt, and a chemist, experimented with Greek fire in a basement at Indianapolis one Sunday.

1.  William H. Harrison, Grand Secretary of Indiana.
2.  James S. Athon (abt. 1812-1875).
3.  B. B. Piper, Grant Missionary.
4.  Greek fire was an incendiary weapon developed by the Byzantine Empire in the 7th Century. The term has been used generally since the Crusades for any kind of incendiary mixture.


1864 October 15: Treason in Indiana—The Trial of H. H. Dodd

October 18, 2014

Harrison Horton Dodd (1824-1906) was a founder of the Order of Sons of Liberty (OSL), a paramilitary secret society that was a continuation and/or extension of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC).  The basic goal of the organization was to thwart the war efforts of the Union while still remaining citizens of the United States.  By all accounts Dodd was the most important Copperhead in Indianapolis.

On August 20, 1864, Dodd’s Indianapolis offices were raided by the Union military, who recovered thousands of ammunition rounds and 400 revolvers.  Several of his co-conspirators were arrested, but Dodd managed to escape to Canada.  Dodd and his co-conspirators—William A. Bowles,¹ Andrew Humphreys,² Horace Heffren,³ Lambdin P. Milligan,4 and Stephen Horsey5—were convicted of treason, specifically planning to steal weapons and invade Union prisoner-of-war camps to release Confederate prisoners. They were convicted by a military commission and sentenced to be hanged.   On May 31, 1865, President Andrew Johnson commuted their sentences to life in prison.  The conviction was appealed through the federal courts, and on April 3, 1866, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase issued a habeas corpus freeing them.  The case ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional.

The following article from the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal has been split into three postings due to the length.


The “Sons of Liberty” in Court. 

T h e   T r i a l   o f   H.  H.  Dodd.

Democrats Conspiring with Rebels.

Arrangement for Co-operating.

Confederate Authorities to Furnish Arms.

The Case of HARRISON H. DODD, a leading Democrat in Indiana, charged with conspiring against the Government, as a member of a secret disloyal and treasonable association, began at Indianapolis on the 27th ult., before the military commission, Gen. COLGROVE,6 President. The following is some of the testimony :

Felix G. Stidger7 testified that Dr. Bowles gave him the first information respecting the order of the Sons of Liberty.  He was sent by Capt. S. E. Jones, Provost Marshal to learn the particulars of the organization, and had another interview with Bowles about the 26th of January, 1864 ;  was regularly initiated into the order of the Sons of Liberty.  This was about the 5th or 6th of June ;  was instructed in the third degree by Mr. Harrison, the Secretary of the Grand Council of this State ;  first met Dodd in the office of Mr. Bingham, editor of the Indianapolis Sentinel ;  had a letter of introduction to Dodd from Judge Bulllitt.8  The letter was produced in Court.  The conversation witness had with Dodd related to Mr. Coffin, a United States detective who was to be assassinated.  Dodd said that such men would have to be disposed of.  The persons connected in this matter at that time were Mr. Dodd, Harrison, Dr. Bowles, Milligan, Dr. Humphrey and R. J. Gatling.  There were a number of others whose names the witness could not remember.  Persons were not admitted to the meeting of the order of the Sons of Liberty without a password ;  witness was at the time Secretary of Grand Council for the State of Kentucky ;  was appointed by the chief officer of the State, Dr. Bullitt, and still holds the position if such an office exists.  The Sons of Liberty was a military organization.  It was in this organization that Coffin’s murder was discussed, and it was decided emphatically that it should be done.  There was to be a meeting at Hamilton on the occasion of Mr. Vallandigham’s return [Clement L. Vallandigham], at which Coffin was expected to be present.  At the meeting referred to, Dodd called on those who would go with him to murder Coffin.  Only  one man responded—McBride, from Evansville, Ind.—who thought he knew Coffin.  He could not join Dodd.  The witness, Bowles, Dodd and Milligan, went to Hamilton, but Coffin could not be found.  There were two meetings on the day referred to.  At the evening meeting they discussed the military organization of the Sons of Liberty.  A number of speeches were made, all full of the oppression and tyrany [sic] of the Government, and that it was to be restored by force of arms.  They expected a definite time to be set for a general uprising, in which they were to seize the United States Arsenals in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  The rebel prisoners in the States were to be released and armed with arms seized from the arsenals.  The number in the Order of the Sons of Liberty was calculated to be 60,000 to 75,000 in Indiana.  Illinois was counted on as having a considerable number, and Missouri was believed to be almost unanimous.  Ohio was not much counted on. Bowles told the witness that he had his command organized into companies and regiments.  Saw Bowles at Louisville.  He was there experimenting with R. O. Bocking in the manufacture of hand grenades and Greek fire, which were to be used in destroying Government property.  Bowles said that the Greek fire had been used for the destruction of the Government warehouse at Louisville and of the Government steamers.  The programme of the meeting of the Order in Chicago in July was given by the witness, who said Dodd had told him that Chicagoans had agreed to seize the camps and depots of prisoners in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois ;  seize the arsenals in those States ;  arm the rebel prisoners released, and also members of the Order and unite at Louisville.—The uprising was to be general in those States and in Missouri, and as much of Kentucky as possible. The date was not fixed definitely, as they were governed in regard to awaiting for the rebel armies to co-operate with them.  At a conference with Bowles, Milligan and Walker, it was determined to go ahead on the 15th or 17th of August, and carry out the plan agreed upon, and eventually unite at Louisville.  At the Chicago meeting of the order, there were present Judge Bullitt, Dr. Bowles, Pichard Barrett of St. Louis, Dodd and John C. Walker.—They agreed that the uprising was to take place from the 3d to the 17th of August, as should finally be determined by Vallandigham, the Supreme Commander of the order, whom they were sworn to obey.  Dodd was Grand Commander, and Walker, Bowles, Milligan and Humphries Major Generals for Indiana.  Bullitt had attempted to communicate with Colonel Jesse and a rebel Colonel Siphert on parole in Kentucky, was initiated into the order, and attempted to get permission to go to Canada, from whence he designed going to Mexico and into the Confederacy.  At Chicago they agreed that the order was to meet openly in the mass Democratic meetings, and on the day of the uprising, August 6th, were to have a mass meeting at Indianapolis, and carry out their programme—the design of the movement was to carry a portion of the States into the Confederacy.  Bowles talked privately about a Northwestern Confederacy.  The constitution, rituals, &c., of the order were exhibited to the witness, and identified as the genuine work of the order ;  also the roll of members of the order in Indianapolis, found in Dodd’s office, which had been shown to the witness by Harrison, the Grand Secretary.  Without concluding the examination of Mr. Stidger, the Court adjourned.

1.  William A. Bowles (1799-1873) was a physician in Indiana who served as colonel of the 2nd Indiana Regiment in the Mexican War. Bowles and others were court martialed over an incident at the Battle of Buena Vista. Jefferson Davis defended Bowles and they formed a life-long friendship. In the 1850s Bowles organized the Knights of the Golden Circle to counteract the Underground Railroad activity within the region where he lived in Indiana. During the Civil War, Bowles was made a Major General of one of the four military districts established by Dodd. Bowles was listed as a co-conspirator in Dodd’s 1864 trial.
2.  Andrew Humphreys (1821-1904) was an Indiana politician who served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives (1849-1852 and January-March 1857); was appointed Indian agent for Utah in 1857; was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1872 and 1888; served in the Indiana Senate (1874-1876, 1878-1882, 1896-1900), and served in the U.S. Congress from December 1876 to March 1877.  He should not be confused with Union General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1810-1883).
3.  Horace Heffren (1832-1883) had served as lieutenant colonel of the 50th Indiana Infantry from July 1861 to September 1862 when he resigned. Heffren’s testimony at the trial was published in 1864 as “Sons of Liberty : Testimony of Horace Heffren, One of the Accused.”
4.  Lambdin Purdy Milligan (1812-1899) was a lawyer and farmer (his law class included Edwin M. Stanton) in Indiana. Milligan was outspoken in political affairs and publicly protested the Civil War and Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton. By May 1864, Federal authorities were convinced that  Milligan was in touch with Confederate agents. The Supreme Court case that eventually freed the conspirators bore Milligan’s name, Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2.
5.  Stephen Horsey was a resident of Shoals, Indiana, who lived close to the site of a train wreck that involved hundreds of Union soldiers. He was arrested and within the next 24 hours the other “conspirators” were also arrested on charges of treason. After the trial, imprisonment, and release, Horsey returned to Martin County, Indiana, a broken man who died in financial straits.
6.  Silas Colgrove (1816-1907) was a lawyer in Winchester, Indiana before the Civil War. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 3-month 8th Indiana Infantry in April 1861, and then colonel of the 27th Indiana Infantry in September. He fought at the battles of Front Royal, Winchester, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Resaca, Peachtree Creek and the Atlanta Campaign. Colgrove resigned in late 1864 and returned to Indiana where he took part in the treason trials.
7.  Felix Grundy Stidger (1836-1908) was a young clerk who was recruited to become a Federal counter-spy within the Knights of the Golden Circle. He reported to Colonel Carrington, the Union commander at Indianapolis. He infiltrated the organization deep enough to become the Grand Secretary of the Sons of Liberty in Kentucky, second in command only to Bowles. He testified for two hours. Stidger wrote and self-published in 1903 a history of his connection with the organization, entitled Treason History of the Order of the Sons of Liberty, formerly Circle of Honor, Succeeded by Knights of the Golden Circle, afterward Order of American Knights, the Most Gigantic Treasonable Conspiracy the World Has Ever Known, 1864, available digitally on the Internet Archive. Modern reprints often go by the cover title, “Knights of the Golden Circle, Treason History, Sons of Liberty.”
8.  Joshua Fry Bullitt (1821-1898) was elected a justice on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1861, and served as chief justice in 1864-1865. Bullitt was arrested on August 11 and again on November 22, 1864, by order of Union General Burbridge for belonging to the Sons of Liberty. He was sent to Tennessee with others suspected of similar crimes, but returned to Louisville and the Court of Appeals in December of 1864. Bullitt fled to Canada and was removed from office by Governor Bramlette. Years later the Kentucky Legislature adopted a resolution dismissing the accusations against him.

1864 October 15: Soldiers’ Views of the Election, Ellsworth Burnett Sent Home on Sick Furlough, Rebels at Petersburg Badly Demoralized

October 17, 2014

The following excerpts from two letters written by soldiers appeared in the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The Soldiers’ Views.

DAVID JARVIS, known to most of the citizens here, now serving on a gunboat on the Tennessee, writes to a friend here, under date of Oct. 5, as follows :

The condition of our country seems favorable at present, especially in the army. It is now in a state of invincibility, and all that is now requisite for a final triumph over our enemies is a full and hearty support of the Northern States in the fall election. If they will join hands with the soldier and unite in the support of ABRAHAM [Abraham Lincoln], the war will be brought to a speedy termination, and also to the honor of the U. S. A. If we fail in placing ABRAHAM in the next Presidential chair, and choose a peace man, I am afraid we have only experienced the beginning of war.

There are thousands of men in the States of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, if a peace man is elected to the Presidential chair, will voluntarily present themselves to the rebel ranks, and thereby augment the rebel army, hoping to embarrass the North, and demand formal cessation to hostilities and disgraceful compromise which will be the beginning of wars in America. But I hope the people will awake to their best interests and unanimously proclaim for a vigorous prosecution of the war ;  the only possible way of solving the question.

Capt. “BOB” EDEN, of the 37th Regiment, under date of Oct. 4, writes as follows :

Col. SAM [Samuel Harriman] is in command of the Brigade and Maj. KERSHAW¹ of the Regiment ; Capt. E. BURNETT [Ellsworth Burnett] has been sent home on sick furlough. He is a good officer and a pleasant companion, and his health was much impaired, rendering a furlough absolutely necessary.

As for news as to the progress of the campaign, you get that sooner than we do, and more authentic and reliable at that.

The general opinion here seems to be that Petersburg will very soon be evacuated, and therefore fall into our hands.  The rebels are much disheartened at the many severe repulses they have lately met with, and appear, with but few exceptions, badly demoralized.  Their supplies too, are very short, and taken altogether, the prisoners we take are the happiest act of men alive, apparently ; that is, after they are safe in the rear of our lines.—Their first demand is, “Where can we get something to eat ? They were just going to serve out rations when we left our lines,” etc. They also say that “fighting’s played out, I reckon. You’uns can’t whip we’uns, but we’re tired of fighting and want to go home” Most of the prisoners are old men and young boys—“the cradle and the grave.”

1.  William J. Kershaw, from Big Spring, was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel of the 37th Wisconsin Infantry on September 27, 1864, and resigned on October 19. He had been wounded at Petersburg on June 17, 1864.


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