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be immediately sent to Washington with the view of hastening a consummation so much to be desired, and terminating at the earliest possible moment the calamities of the war. We respectfully solicit, through your intervention, a safe conduct to Washington, and thence, by any route which may be designated, through your lines to Richmond."
Still Mr. Greeley had not tired of this adventure. He informed his correspondents that he would make another application to the President in their behalf in accordance with the changed aspect of the case. He did so, and received the following paper:
WASHINGTON, July 18, 1864. To Whom It May Concern:
Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on substantial and collateral points; and the bearer thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.
This clear and reasonable response settled the matter. The men “in the confidential employment” of Jefferson Davis had quite other objects in view than they were ready to reveal to Mr. Greeley. Their hope of peace lay chiefly in the division of the Northern people, in promoting insurrection in loyal States, and in defeating the re-election of Abraham Lincoln. They hatched still other and less innocent plots, which were in a little time disclosed.
Fate of the Alabama — "Sons of Liberty" Conspiracy
Virginia and Georgia Campaigns Continued — Washington in Danger — Early and Sheridan in the Valley Sherman Approaches Atlanta.
Late in June came the news, tardily traveling in the olden way, that the pest of American commerce, the Alabama, had run into the liarbor of Cherbourg. The Kearsarge was lying off Flushing when Winslow, her commander, learned of this move of the enemy he was seeking. He promptly came up and awaited the Alabama's appearance outside. Semmes ran out in the morning of the 19th (Sunday), with the English yacht Deerhound in close company, and steered for the Kearsarge, which moved farther out to sea.
When seven miles off shore the latter turned and faced the adversary. The two were a mile apart when the Alabama opened fire, pouring in three broadsides before receiving any reply. Winslow made directly for his assailant, who sheered off, firing continually, while the less frequent but better aimed shots of the Kearsarge were more effectual. Circling around and steadily approaching each other, grapeshot became available after an hour. An eleven-inch shell had already disabled a gun and killed or wounded eighteen men on the Alabama. Now another shell exploded in her coal-bunkers, and so blocked up the engine-room that sails had to be used and steam abandoned. Her sides, too, were by this time badly riddled; and presently, finding the ship sinking, Semmes ran up a white flag, and called for help in rescuing the surrendered crew. Twenty minutes later the Alabama sank. Semmes and part of his men were carried off to England by the Deerhound, but not a relic of the famous destroyer returned with them to her native shore. Winslow was the hero of the hour.
General Rosecrans had taken command of the Department of Missouri in the latter part of January, with but few troops besides the organized State militia, about twelve thousand in number. In the northwestern part of the State he found there were two or three thousand "provisionally enrolled militia” hostile to the Government, and intent on fighting Abolition instead of Secession. Further investigation by the aid of spies and detectives made him acquainted with the approximate numbers and specific purposes of the secret Order of American Knights, known also as Sons of Liberty, of which, as Rosecrans reported to the Government, Sterling Price was grand commander in the South, and C. L. Vallandigham in the North. Price was preparing to reconquer Missouri, in which undertaking twentythree thousand members of the order were said to have sworn to join him as he advanced into the State. An invasion of the North was also intended, to be supported by a grand uprising of Sons of Liberty and sympathizers in several of the Northwestern States. Rosecrans caused the arrest of a score or two of the
prominent members of the order in Missouri, among whom was the State commander, then acting consul of Belgium at St. Louis. The release of the latter having been ordered by the Secretary of War, Rosecrans appealed to the President, who approved the General's action and overruled Stanton.
Governor Morton, of Indiana, with his wonted vigilance and energy, obtained ample proof of the existence and designs of the order in that State, and had certain of its leaders — well-known citizens — arrested on the charge of treasonable conspiracy, including plots of assassination. They were tried by the civil court, and some of them convicted and sentenced to death. Though the extreme penalty was ultimately remitted, the blow given the order was effective.
It was among the discoveries reported by Rosecrans that Vallandigham intended to escape from Canada and to attend the Democratic National Convention at Chicago. It is certain that on the 15th of June he suddenly appeared at a convention in his home district, and was chosen a delegate to the national convention. When his presence in Ohio became known, there was an undue interest felt as to the President's treatment of the incident. Some of his friends thought it would be ruinous for him to leave the fugitive at large in defiance of the order of banishment. The enemies of Lincoln, on the other hand, appear to have hoped for Vallandigham's re-arrest, and a great collision following a general uprising of his comrades. The case had no such importance in the President's mind. Vallandigham's presence or absence was a matter of indifference at this stage of affairs, so long as he was guilty of no new offense.
The exposure of the “ Knights,” their secret purposes, their signs and forms, with the details of their maturing insurrection, was of real importance. The President did not see fit, for the time, to give complete publicity to these disclosures — which included designs too monstrous for easy belief but had the voluminous evidence taken in Missouri and Indiana referred to Judge-Advocate General Holt for examination. The report of Judge Holt, Chief of the Bureau of Military Justice (October 8, 1864), showed that the purposes of
( the “ Order of American Knights,” or “Sons of Liberty,” were: To aid desertions from the Union armies; to circulate disloyal publications; to give intelligence to the enemy; to aid recruiting for the Confederates within the Union lines; to furnish the enemy with arms and supplies; to co-operate in Confederate raids and invasions; to destroy Government property; to persecute and impoverish Union men; to assassinate those of special influence or in high authority; and to set up a Northwestern Confederacy.
“While the capacity of this order for fatal mischief," said Judge Holt, “has, by means of the arrest of its leaders, the seizure of its arms, and the other vigorous, means which have been pursued, been seriously impaired, it is still busy with its secret plottings against the Government, and with its perfidious designs in aid of the Southern rebellion. It is reported to have recently issued new signs and passwords, and its members assert that foul means will be used to prevent the success of the Administration at the coming election, and threaten an extended revolt in the event of the re-election of President Lincoln."