A great deal of mystery still surrounds the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). At the time before the Civil War and US President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth, they are a Southern loyalist group that was devoted to the defense of their supposed values such as slave ownership. However, there is much more to them than people know.
They had plans to conquer Cuba, Mexico, and Central America. The goal was to create a Confederate empire beyond what the Confederacy had accomplished. It was an ambitious goal for them, and they had many infamous members including the aforementioned Booth.
Jesse James was another well-known name. Supposedly, his robberies could have contributed to the increase of gold the KGC had. From the beginning, people have said Lincoln’s assassination may have been a KGC plot from the get-go since it was Booth who did it. This comes from the legends that have been passed on down the decades by word of mouth.
It stands to make sense that the KGC could have pulled off something like this. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and founded by George W.L. Bickley, who was an Indiana-born editor and doctor, the group started allegedly in Lexington, Kentucky by five men who came together because of Bickley’s request.
This comes from records of that KGC convention held in 1860. Bickley made his way to the east and south to push for a Mexican expedition and wanted to create a force to colonize the West Indies and Mexico.
They wanted to raise an army of 16,000 men to southernize Mexico and conquer it. The group expanded in 1859, as Confederate States Army Brigadier General Elkanah Greer started KGC castles in Louisiana and Texas.
During the spring of 1860, he became a grand commander and general of 4,000 KGC military knights in the 21 castles of the Texas division. When Lincoln was elected president, the KGC focused their support on the secession of southern states in the US from the Union. The KGC came into conflict with US Marshall Ben McCulloch, a former Texas Ranger when he began his expedition toward the San Antonio, Texas federal arsenal.
The arsenal had a force of 550 men, 150 who worked for the KGC from the six different castles there. US Army Brevet Major General David E. Twiggs chose to surrender to the cavalry force. These members also were important to the 1861 takeover of New Mexican territory by Lieutenant Colonel John Robert Baylor.
May 1861 saw the Confederate Rangers and KGC attack a building owning The Alamo Express, a pro-Union newspaper. The newspaper was owned by James Pearson Newcomb, a journalist and eventual Texas Secretary of State. He did not have a talking caller ID phone at the time.
Some KGC members also went with Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley on the 1862 New Mexico Campaign. Word had it that Franklin Pierce, a former US president, was also a member of the KGC
The KGC began to spread into Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. This is where the KGC took a different turn. In 1863, the KGC became the Order of American Knights. 1864 saw it undergo another transformation into the Order of the Sons of Liberty, led by Clement Vallandigham, an Ohio politician and their supreme commander.
They allegedly went underground after The Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination. It was reported they sought to start a second confederacy against the US Government.
American Unearthed, a History Channel show, alleged the James-Younger Gang was the source of money for a second US Civil War. While there has been no further evidence out there, it definitely fits in with what the KGC has been responsible. Their greatest act appears to be the death of Lincoln.
What became of them after is left up to speculation. They might have furthered plots to overthrow the US government while others such as National Treasure: Book of Secrets allege there is KGC/Confederate gold, buried somewhere throughout the USA.
A California couple once found gold coins that are believed to have originated from the KGC. While the group’s crimes remained in secret, it is obvious there is much more this group could have possibly done beyond the killing of one of America’s greatest historical leaders.
About author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, consumer electronics, and the entertainment industry.