THE KU KLUX KLAN

Taken from the book, “Stories of the Confederacy” (1912) (Speech delivered by the author at Ridge Spring, 1910) History is a brilliant illustration of the past, and leads us into a charmed field of wonders and delight. It reflects the deeds of men and throws its rays upon the just and the unjust, and leads upward and onward to that mention of facts bearing upon a brilliancy surrounding our everyday life as it was and as it is. We are gathered together today to talk about the gallant deeds of Confederate soldiers who descended from patriots of Revolutionary fame, partisan leaders who fought on this very historic ground during the bloody period from 1776 to 1783 — the Watsons, Ryans, Corleys, Wises, Butlers, Brookses and others too numerous to mention, whose achievements threw such a halo of glory and gorgeous chivalry over the war in this very section. In December, 1781, "Bloody Bill Cunningham," with a band of Tories, came up from Orangeburg and burnt houses, murdered some of the best people then living in this community, and stealing horses and cattle. Captain James Butler gathered about 30 men and gave chase to Bloody Bill, and captured everything that he had stolen. Cunningham had about 300 Tories under him, who rallied and caught up with Butler's Spartan band about two miles from Leesville and massacred the last one of them. Early in 1782 "Bloody Bill' made another raid through this section, and when Captain Michael Watson, with only a few men, met him, the gallant Watson was mortally wounded during the hottest of the fight and cried out to William Butler: ''Billy, don't let the Tories get my body." Butler, with the assistance of Lieutenant John Corley, rallied the men and routed the Tories, who ran for their lives. Butler had a splendid horse named "Ranter," and Bloody Bill Cunningham was riding a beautiful mare called "Silver Heels." Butler had emptied his pistols and was trying to overtake Cunningham in order to kill him with his sword, but when he reached the road Cunningham said: "Damn you, Bill Butler, I am safe; but mark, the next chase will be mine!" when Away, away dashed Silver Heels, Upon the pinions of the wind, Leaving Ranter far behind, She sped like a meteor through the sky. When with crackling sound the night, Is checquered with the Northern light. Captain Watson was carried to Orangeburg, where he died and was given a military burial by his brave followers. When the tocsin of war was sounded in 1861 none were so prompt to volunteer as the men from old Edgefield, which at that time embraced all of Saluda and about half of Aiken County. Edgefield sent to the war about three thousand men, among who were four generals, viz.: Bonham, Butler, Perrin and Gary. Edgefield also furnished two war governors, Pickens and Bonham. The Confederate soldier was a venerable old man, a youth, a preacher, a farmer, a merchant, a student, a statesman, orator, father, brother, son — the wonder of the world, the terror of his foes. When we fill up hurriedly the bloody

chasm opened by war we should be careful that we do not bury therein many noble deeds, some tender memories, some grand examples and some hearty promises washed with tears. The Yankee soldiers were abundant and good, — so abundant and good that they supplied both armies. The Confederate soldier fought the trained army officer and the regular troops of the United States army, assisted by splendid native volunteer soldiers, besides swarms of hirelings, white, black, olive and brown, gathered from every quarter of the earth by steamer loads. The Confederate soldier laid down life for life with this hireling host, who died for pay, mourned by no one, missed by no one, and loved by none, who were better fed and clothed, fatter, happier and more contented in the army than ever they were at home, and whose graves strew the earth in lonesome places where none go to weep. When one of these fell two could be bought to fill the gap. The Confederate soldier killed these without compunction, and their comrades buried them without a tear. The Yankees are a great people, for they have without a doubt proven to the world that the Confederate soldiers were the greatest warriors that the world has ever produced. By the ingenuity of the Yankees they have placed high up on the roll of fame a Lee, a Jackson, a Forest, a Hampton and a Butler. They have also shown to mankind that they fought with great courage, and that it took four of them four long years to convince one Confederate that it would be murder to continue the struggle any longer. Therefore, at Appomatox on the 9th April, 1805, Lee ordered his 8.000 veterans to lay down their muskets and to cease firing. More than 160,000 Yankees witnessed the surrender, and immediately divided rations with their brothers in gray who were suffering from hunger, that most dreadful of human tortures. (These rations were captured from the Confederates.) None but a great people could have acted so magnanimously while the sound of the "'Rebel yell" was so fresh in their ears — a yell which had caused them to stampede and leave many- bloody fields which were strewn with their dead, with cannon, small arms, horses, saddles, blankets and wagons. I well remember that on the 16th September, 1864, about 2,500 head of beeves were turned over to Hampton, and the same Rebel yell caused (from 1861 to 1865) 270.000 Yankees to throw down their arms and surrender to the "Johnny Rebs," as they were pleased to call the Confederates. The Yankees are silent about the above facts for, on their own merits, modest men are dumb. "War is a dreadful thing — more horrible than any of the younger generation can ever realize. Many families were almost exterminated in our war. General Grant said (in the early part of 1864) that if he consented to exchange prisoners, that with two hundred thousand Rebel prisoners turned loose from Northern prisons, that Sherman's army would be destroyed and his own be in great danger, and that the Rebels would have to be exterminated before they would surrender. The war records show that the Yankee army was composed as follows:  Whites from the North 2,272,333  Whites from the South 316,424  Negroes 186,017  Indians 3,530 ___________________________________ Total 2,778,304 Total in Southern Army 600,000 ----------------------------------------------------North's numerical superiority 2,178,304

On the third day of June, 1864, at the battle of Second Cold Harbor, Lee's incomparable infantry shot down 13,000 Yankees in thirty minutes, and when Grant ordered them to charge again they positively refused to obey the order. Mr. Wilkinson, a Yankee historian, said that he heard the order given and saw it disobeyed. The Yankee General Hooker said that for steadiness in action and discipline the Confederate soldier had no equal. This "is praise indeed from Sir Hubert." When old soldiers gather together and talk of a great battle, they feel the old-time thrill of it, And again the battle plains they see, Again they charge with Jackson and face the fight with Lee, And the shouting hills are answered by the thunder of the sea, And they rally to the ringing roll of "Dixie," The nation for which our Heroes died is dead! It died amid battle, its life crushed out by tread of overwhelming numbers; born to save constitutional liberty to the South, it lived a heroic struggle for independence and home rule find died. Its memories are its own. None other can appreciate them nor share them. Our dead are imperishable memories of what is left to us of a dead nation. In this terrible war thousands mourned for thousands slain. Towns and villages were razed, cities destroyed. The women of our country were left homeless and shelter-less. Fruitful fields were turned back to wilderness, and it came to pass as the prophet said: "The sun turned to darkness, and the moon to blood." The course of the law was ended. The sword sat chief magistrate in half the nation. Industry was paralyzed. Whole States were ravaged by invading armies. The world was amazed, the earth reeled. But for the ''Ku Klux Klan'' we would have been ruined forever. Now, listen while I tell you about this great order. A personal experience, though ever so plainly told, is, generally speaking, more attractive to listeners and readers than fiction. A circumstance from the tongue or pen of one to whom it actually happened is always more interesting than given second-hand. The New Standard Encyclopaedia, published in New York in 1909, defines — Ku Klux Klan: "A secret American organization which, said to have been founded in ISGC) at Pulaski, Tennessee, originally for purposes of amusement only, soon developed into an association of 'regulators' and became notorious for the lawless deeds of violence performed in its name: the proceeding's of the Ku Klux in the Southern States are one feature of the determined struggle to withhold from the emancipated slaves the right of voting. The outrages and murders which convulsed the country in l868-1869 ended in the calling out of troops and the formal disbandment of the society in March of the latter year, but its name and often disguises were used for years to cover the violence of political desperadoes." Be it remembered that the Ku Klux never burnt Negroes. In Delaware and Illinois they do burn Negroes. You ask me to tell you about the Ku Klux. What I know of the order is good. Time nor your patience will permit me to tell all about this great order which was organized by the very best people in the South. The Ku Klux Klan was so misunderstood by so many good people and so thoroughly understood by so many bad people that it was really and truly the salvation of society and law and order. There was no law to protect the Confederate soldier and those dependent upon him unless he surrendered his manhood and

joined the Radical party. What was the Radical party and how composed? It was made up of thieves from the North, scalawags from the South and nearly all the Negroes in the South. Their mission was to steal, murder and rob the white people under the cloak of law, which was backed up by the Federal soldiers, who were as thick as could be all over the South. Whenever any negro wanted a white person punished all he had to do was to go to the garrison, swear out a warrant and not less than four or five Yankee soldiers would repair to the home of the white person who had committed the imaginary wrong and take him before the captain of the garrison, who would not believe the white man but would invariably believe the negro just because he hated the Confederate soldier and did not love the negro, although the negro thought he did. The Yankees acted as though they thought the Confederate soldier would again rise up in his might and overthrow the government. They were like the negro was when some devilish white boys rode their horses at a gallop through a Radical open-air meeting: This negro ran at least a mile to his home, fell in the door almost out of breath and exhausted. His wife said, "Why, Bill, what in the world is the matter?" and he replied, as soon as he could, "The white people has ris." And rise they did. Misunderstood by the world, but knowing his responsibilities, the Confederate was organized to protect his fireside, and well did he do it. Grant said that the white men of the South were as well organized as ever Lee's army was, and that was one time that Grant, the Butcher, as his own men called him, was right. In stating facts I mean no disrespect to anyone. The soldiers in the Yankee army called Grant "the butcher" after the Second Cold Harbor battle was fought on the 3rd June, 1864, when Lee's matchless infantry shot down 13,000 Yankees in less than one-half hour, while the Confederates' loss was very little over 300. This is history. White men in Radical times were called out of their houses at night and shot down in cold blood and the so-called officers of the law would make no arrests. "Forbearance had ceased to be a virtue," and the time had come to protect ourselves. A negro United States marshal walked up behind a citizen in Edgefield, South Carolina, with a warrant, saying, "I have got you." The reply came from a Colt's navy and the negro was stretched dead. On one occasion I was called suddenly away from home and rested a while in Florida, where I remained a short time, and was suddenly called away and rested again in Louisiana. While I was in Florida, Frank Lipscomb stopped at my father's house, in Edgefield, took dinner and had his horse fed. Now, Frank had himself left his home because he had had a few words with a negro and did not care to be dragged up before the commander of the garrison. That very night of the day that young Lipscomb dined with my father, a squad of ten or fifteen Yankees called at his house and took him out and made him walk a half mile barefooted, examined him carefully and admonished him not to feed any more white people, etc., and were kind enough to turn him loose in his night clothes to walk back home more in love with the Yankees than ever. They called him a d — d old gray-headed Rebel and other pet names that amused them no little. In Florida they made a pen, which they called a "bull pen," to put my maternal grandfather in because he would not pay the fines imposed upon him and would read the riot act to them for putting so much meanness into the heads of the Negroes. All these outrages were committed between 1865-1876. The first Ku Klux I ever saw was in the year 1868, in the State of Louisiana, where I had a right to be, in the pretty little town of Minden. I was clerking in the dry goods store of Ardis & Wimberly. This store had a small hall upstairs. One dismal afternoon a very handsome man called at the store and asked the proprietor, Mr. Ardis, if he could hold a meeting upstairs that night. "Yes," was the reply. Major Blanchard thanked Mr. Ardis and said that he only wanted Confederate soldiers at this meeting. Men of

character were what he wanted. Confederate soldiers were young then. About twenty-five young men responded to the call and were soon initiated into this wonderful order. Major Blanchard spoke with the eloquence of a Cicero, told us of the horrible crimes being then committed throughout our bleeding country, how we were misunderstood by the world, and that we must protect our firesides or our civilization would soon be gone glimmering through the dream of things that were. The brave and handsome major had already organized nearly the whole State. "We were known as "The Knights of the White Camellia" to ourselves and to no others. We were drilled through what I may call the manual of the signs. Should a brother Knight give the sign of distress, at the peril of your life you must go to his assistance. An order from the captain of a company was obeyed as promptly as though it was given by the centurion of old, "Come and he cometh," "go and he goeth." Our uniform was the white helmet, black face and white sheet. The uniform of the horse was the white sheet, no matter what his color was. The sheet had to be on him while on duty. How thankful we were that horses would not talk. To enter a lodge of the Knights of the White Camellia a certain knock was given. Just such a knock I have never heard before or since. It was one loud knock, a pause, two quick knocks, a pause, another loud knock. The Ku Klux Klan societies had various names, such as "The Brotherhood," ''The Pale Faces," "The Invisible Empire," "The Knights of the White Camellia." One Ku Klux carried a flesh bag in the shape of a heart, and went about hollering for fried nigger meat ; one of the Klan represented that he had been killed at Manassas and since then someone has built a turnpike over his grave and he "has to scratch like h — 1 to get up through the gravel." One Ku Klux carried an india rubber stomach to startle a negro by swallowing pail fulls of water. We were a disfranchised body and did not intend to submit to such laws. This was the beginning of the Klan, and if we had failed in this we intended to fight a guerrilla war until our citizenship was restored, but the Ku Klux Klan of blessed memory-served our purpose. Henry Clay Warmouth, the carpetbag governor of Louisiana from 1868 to 1873, organized the negro militia all over Louisiana and in the summer of 1868 this misguided armed body of outlaws would not hesitate to shoot down white men whenever it suited their convenience. In September, 1868, at the Shady Grove Plantation, eight miles north of Shreveport, on the Red River road leading from Shreveport to Arkansas, two young white men — Bev Ogden and Jimmie Brownlee, by order of the captain of a negro company who called himself "John the Baptist," were shot to death. These young men were murdered because they had enquired for a yoke of oxen, not knowing that Captain John the Baptist had given an order to shoot down the first white men who passed by the plantation. Confederate soldiers from the surrounding country, including one hundred men from Arkansas, were soon on the scene, and no less than three hundred Negroes were shot and the most of them were thrown into the river. The Yankee garrison was also seen on the scene and were told that it was not their fight, and it was just four years since we fought them four years. The captain promptly replied, "We are all white," * * * "you kill the Negroes and we will bury them." This faithful captain kept his promise and did bury all that did not drown themselves in the river of this 300 misguided Warmouth militia. This carpetbagger governor, Warmouth, was born in McLeansboro, Ill., May 9th. 1842, and when he ceased to be governor purchased a fine sugar plantation in Louisiana. He was of medium size and wore a large black moustache in 1868, and was a fluent talker. I wonder if he, like D. H. Chamberlain, the carpetbagger governor of South Carolina, turned his back, too, on the Negroes? After this riot in North Louisiana peace prevailed. Not a white man was arrested.

In January, 1871, Matt Stevens, a white man who had lost an arm in Confederate service, was driving his wagon near Union, S. C. On the public highway he met a negro company of Scott's militia. Now, Scott was one carpetbagger, the first one of the many thieves among the carpetbaggers to become the governor of South Carolina. Tell it not in Gath — whisper it not in the streets of Askalon. How the mighty carpetbaggers leaked out when Hampton was elected. The aforesaid militia company shot this unfortunate Confederate soldier to death because, as they thought, there was no law to punish them, but were somewhat surprised when they were put in jail by white citizens, and on the 4th January a party of Ku Klux shot two of the militia and on the 12th January, 1871, took out of jail eight more of the aforesaid militia and shot them to death. The mounted men retired as quietly as they had come, their ranks well kept and their movements marked by a precision which was strictly military. From 1868 to 1876, the white people in South Carolina, their property, their liberties, their opportunities in life, lay at the mercy of an ignorant negro majority — under the leadership of corrupt carpetbaggers and scalawags. But for the white native judges who happened to hold these high positions, our people would have suffered much more than they did. Such men as Judge Maher, Judge Melton, Judge Vernon, Judge Graham, Judge Shaw and others, were our protectors so far as they could be. I have been reliably informed that the Knights of the White Camellia accomplished much good simply by keeping quiet and obeying the law and compelling others to do the same. If a carpetbagger or a scalawag behaved badly he would get a letter something like this: "The moon drips blood and the Grand Cyclops was ready to walk, &c." Nothing more was necessary.

During Reconstruction or Radical times the Confederate soldiers found themselves in the same predicament that old Preacher Dicky Woodruff's mourners were. The reverend old gentleman called up the mourners. They came and all knelt around the altar for prayer. When the music ceased, he said: "Yes, here you all are, in a hell of a fix." Now, that was our fix exactly. Federal soldiers like so many bees all over the South, negroes, carpetbaggers and scalawags holding all the offices, and the Con- federate soldier with no more chance for justice before a negro jury' in a court house than a cat in the lower regions without claws. Something had to be done. General N. B. Forest, knowing the negro to be superstitious and easily frightened about ghosts and other strange things, organized "The Knights of the White Camellia," which was called the Ku Klux Klan for the want of the right name, as none but the members knew what it was. I have heard negroes say that the large white things they saw moving about at night were Confederates killed in the war and had come back to straighten out things. It was in the brain of this wonderful genius, General Forrest, that devised the plan to give the South relief. The Confederate soldier has done his duty and acted his part well. He has established hundreds of National Cemeteries, which are his own monuments. He has up to this date placed about one million names on the pension rolls of his enemy. He has grown old now. This is what Frank L. Stanton said about him: "Men do you know him? Grim and Gray, He speaks to you from far away. There he stands on the prison sod, A statue carved by the hand of God. And the death he dared and the path he trod Plead for him a voice that seems 'Wild and sad with battle dreams

And Memory's river backward streams With its strange unrest and crimson gleam. "There he stands like a hero — See? He bore his rags and wounds for ye; He bore the flag of the warring South, With red-scarred hands, to the cannon's mouth. By heaven I see, as I did that day, His red wounds gleam through the rags of gray. Men of the South, your heroes stand, Statue-like in the new-born land. Will you pass them by? Will your lips condemn? The wounds on their brave breasts plead for them. Shall the South that they gave their blood to save Give them only a nameless grave? Nay, for the men who faced the fray Are heroes in trust until the judgment day, And God Himself, in the far sweet land, Will ask their blood at their country's hand. Soldier! You in the wrecks of gray With the brazen belt of the C. S. A. Take my love and my tears today; Take them and all I have to give; And, by God's grace, while my heart shall live, It shall keep in its faithful way The campfire lit for the men in gray. Aye! Till the trumpet blast sounds far away And the silver Bugle of Heaven play And the roll is called on the Judgment Day."