Letter from an Indiana soldier stationed at Suffolk, Virginia commenting upon an attempt by Indiana Democrats to overthrow the state government. W. Lewis.

Letter from an Indiana soldier stationed at Suffolk, Virginia commenting upon an attempt by Indiana Democrats to overthrow the state government.

Suffolk, Virginia: May 31, 1863. Unbound.

This four-page letter is written on patriotic stationery that features an illustration of the U. S. Capitol. In it, Lewis—a member of the 13th Indiana Regiment—reports that it has been quiet as “the enemy has retired beyond the black water a distance of 20 miles from here [and] nothing worthy of notice has transpired here since the siege [of Suffolk] was raised on the 4th this month.” He also proudly notes his unit has just presented its commanding officer with a $400 sword.

Most interesting, however, is the anger he expresses about the Battle of Pogue’s Run:

“I herd a few days ago that the Butternuts were about to take possession of Indianapolis and that they had raised our old flag over one of their Seceshmetings now if this be true someone will have to suffer for it if ever get home the life of the man that toock our flag out of the state library is not worth a great deal if any of our boys should meet him.”. Very good. Item #009330

While Lewis may have been mistaken about a Butternut raising a Seceshmetine flag at Indianapolis, the attempt by the Indiana Democratic Party to incite a rebellion against the Union was real. Many of the delegates—most of whom were members of the Knights of the Golden Circle—to the party’s state convention entered the meeting hall with concealed weapons as part of a plan to overthrow the state government. The governor, who had been notified of the plot, ordered eight soldiers with cocked rifles and fixed bayonets to enter the 10,000-man convention and begin seizing the hidden revolvers. The meeting, of course, dissolved in chaos, and later that night the Democrats boarded many trains for home and began firing rounds into the city as they departed. A group of Union soldiers placed a cannon on the tracks to stop two of the trains near Pogue’s Run, and then searched each car, demanding the surrender of all firearms. Over five hundred pistols were confiscated from just these two cars, and over the next few days, nearly 2,000 more firearms were found to have been thrown of the train windows into creek.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret cabal of wealthy southern slave-holders and their Democratic allies in several northern states who—before the war—had plotted to create a slave-holding empire by seizing parts of the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

A scarce report by an indignant Indiana soldier serving in Virginia of a thwarted state coup initiated by the Democratic Party back home in Indiana. As of 2019, nothing similar is for sale in the trad

e, there are no auction records for similar items, and nothing similar is held in institutional collections.

Price: $600.00

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