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Copperheads, Butternuts, Sons of Liberty, Knights of the Golden Circle

The following materials may be of use when researching the Copperheads, Butternuts, Sons of Liberty, and Knights of the Golden Circle in Indiana.  These materials, as well as the card file indexes listed below, are available for use in the Indiana State Library.  For more information, please contact the Indiana Collection.


I343 P685t
Title:  The trials for treason at Indianapolis, disclosing the plans for establishing a Northwestern confederacy. Being the official record of the trials before the Military commission ... containing the testimony, arguments, finding and sentence, in the case of Harrison H. Dodd; also of William A. Bowles, Andrew Humphreys, Horace Heffren, Lambdin P. Milligan, and Stephen Horsey ...
Author:  Pitman, Benn, 1822-1910.   
Published: Cincinnati : Moore, Wilsatch & Baldwin, 1865.                                                                                                                                                    

I813 K93k
Title:  Knights in fustian: a war time story of Indiana.
Author:  Krout, Caroline Virginia, 1852-1931.
Published: Boston, 1900

I813 L848wTitle:  Without valor.
Author:  Long, Laura (Mooney)
Published: 1940

I813 R649g
Title:  The Golden Circle.
Author:  Robertson, Constance (Noyes)
Published: [1951]

I973.7 B985a
Title: behalf of the government, in the cases of Lambdin P. Milligan and others, petitioners for a writ of habeas corpus, before the Supreme court of the United States, at Washington, D.C., December term, 1865.
Author:  Butler, Benjamin Franklin.
Published: Lowell, Hildreth & Hunt, 1866.

I973.7 K71a
Title:  An authentic exposition of the "K.G.C.", "Knights of the golden circle"; or, A history of secession from 1834 to 1861 ...
Author:  Hiatt, James M.
Published: Indianapolis, [c1861]

I973.7 M662a
Title:  Abraham Lincoln and the fifth column.
Author:  Milton, George Fort, 1894
Published: Vanguard Press, 1942

973.7 P464o
Title:  Opposition to the civil war in Indiana.
Author:  Perry, Marjorie Anita
Published: [Seattle?], 1932

I973.7 S854t
Title:  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, 1864.
Author:  Stidger, Felix Grundy, 1836-
Published: Chicago : The Author, 1903.

I973.71 K643c
Title:  The Copperheads in the Middle West.
Author:  Klement, Frank L
Published: Sharp's News Service, [1995?]

[IND.] 973.71 S531a
Title:  Anti government movement in Middle West : American Knights, Sons of Liberty, Butternuts, Copperheads / [Ronald Sharp].
Author:  Sharp, Ronald.
Published: University of Chicago Press, 1960

I 977.201 F771w
Title:  Twenty-five years in Jackville, a romance in the days of "the golden circle," and selected poems.
Author:  Elmore, James Buchanan.
Published: Alamo, Ind.: The author, 1904

E458.8 .G72
Title: The hidden Civil War; the story of the Copperheads
Author:  Gray, Wood
Published: The Viking Press, 1942

Subject Heading: 

Sons of Liberty
Knights of the Golden Circle

Copperhead Movement  


304 S742 no. 17
Title:  The Chicago Copperhead convention. The treasonable and revolutionary utterances of the men who composed it. Extracts from all the notable speeches delivered in and out of the National "Democratic" convention ....
Author:  Republican Congressional Committee, 1863-1865
Published: Washington, D.C: The Congressional Union Committee, 1864.

343.1 no. 4
Title:  Argument on the jurisdiction of a military commission to try citizens of a loyal state.
Author:  Gordon, Jonathan Wesley, 1820-
Published: [Indianapolis, Dec. 6, 1864]

741 no. 1
Title:  Ye book of copperheads
Author:  Leland, Charles Godfrey
Published: Leypoldt, 1863.

973.7 no. 1
Title:  Great northern conspiracy of the "O.S.L.".
Published: n.p., n.d.

973.7 no. 2
Title:  Sons of liberty; testimony of Horace Heffren, one of the accused.
Author:  Heffren, Horace.
Published: Indpls., 1864

973.7 no. 2
Title:  [Sons of liberty, First conclave or Second degree (I), and Sons of liberty, Second conclave, or Third degree (II) [Initiation ritual].
[Knights of the golden circle]

973.7 no. 3
Title:  Copperhead conspiracy in the Northwest; an expose of the treasonable order of the "Sons of liberty".
Published: NY., n.d.

973.7 no.4
Title:  Report of the Judge Advocate General on the "Order of American Knights", or   
"Sons of Liberty." A western conspiracy in aid of the Southern rebellion.
Author:  U.S.--Judge Advocate General's Dept. (Army)
Published: Washington, D.C.: Daily chronicle print, 1864

973.7 no. 12
Title:  Review of the decision of the U.S. Supreme court, in the cases of Lambdin P. Milligan and others, the Indiana conspirators.
Author: Washington (D.C.) Daily Chronicle
Published: Washington, (D.C.). 1867

973.7 no. 41
Title:  Rebellion in the North!! Extraordinary disclosures! Vallandigham's plan to overthrow the government! The peace party plot! Full details of the organization. Its declaration, oaths, charges, signs, signals, passwords, grips, etc..
Published: {Richmond?. 1864]

973.7 no. 46
Title:  Rules, regulations and principles of the K.G.C. ... Knights of the golden circle
Author: Knights of the golden circle.
Published: N.Y.: Benj. Urner, printer, [1859]

973.7 no. 47
Title:  Governor Morton and the Sons of liberty.
Author:  Foulke, William Dudley, 1848-1935.
Published: [1893]

973.7 no. 49
Title:  In matter of Lambdin P. Milligan, petitioner for writ of habeas corpus. Brief in behalf of the United States.
Author:  Milligan, Lambdin P., defendant
Published: Washington, D.C., 1865?]

973.7 no. 50
Title:  Decision on military commissions. (Case, Ex-Parte Lambdin P. Milligan et al.) Delivered at December term, 1866. U.S. Supreme court.
Published: Washington : W. H. Morrison, 1867

973.7 no. 54
Title:  Ex parte milligan; a famous treason decision of the United States Supreme Court reviewed.
Author:  Lesh, Ulysses Samuel, 1868-
Published: 1947

973.7 no. 58
Title:  Analytical view of the testimony given on the part of the government, in the cases of the United States vs. H.H. Dodd, and same against William A. Bowles and others, in the treason trials, before a Military Commission, convened at Indianapolis, Indiana ... on the 19th day of September, 1864.
Author:  [Bowles, William A.]
Published: New Albany: Norman & Mathews, 1865

973.7 no. 59
Title:  Argument [in defense of Lambdin P. Milligan at treason trial in Indianapolis].
Author:  [Coffroth, John R.]
Published: [1865]

973.7 no. 60
Title:  Treason of the Democratic leaders in Indiana exposed and established
Published: [1864]

973.7 no. 66
Title:  A knight of the Golden Circle.
Author:  Lesh, Ulysses Samuel, 1868-
Published: [Fort Wayne, Indiana], 1956

973.7 no. 68
Title:  In matter of Lambdin P. Milligan, petitioner. On a certificate of division of opinion between the judges of the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of Indiana.
Author:  Milligan, Lambdin P., Petitioner.
Published: [Washington, D.C., 1865?]

973.7 no. 69
Title:  Argument of Jeremiah S. Black in defense of the right of trial by jury.
Author:  Black, Jeremiah Sullivan, 1810-1883
Published: n.p., [1866]

973.74 no. 60
Title:  A rebel spy in Yankeeland : the thrilling adventures of Major W.P. Gorman who was the emissary of the Confederacy to the Copperheads of the North, 1861-1865 /
Edited and introduced by W. Stanley Hoole.
Published: University, Ala.: Confederate Pub., 1981.



V 113 Discussed in Vol. 2, p. 49-53.  Mentions boys in field feel they are placed between two fires.  Rebels in front of us, the slanderous cowardly copperheads organized behind us. (In Davis, William.  Daily record of 7th Ind. Regiment, 1861-June 1863.)

L358 Box 2, Folder 6  4Dr. David T.Yeakle of Lafayette was a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War.  


L31  Democrats in Owen County passed resolutions to take control of the militia out of hands of the militia out of hands of Governor Morton and put it in hands of Butternuts (1-24-1863)  Butternuts had public meeting in Franklin, procession of about 80 men carrying three Union flags (2-22-1863).  Butternuts resisted enrollment officers in many places; two men killed in Rush County Opposition made in White River township in Johnson County
Butternuts to hold meeting at Butlerville near Vernon had butternuts fastened on American flag lady took butternuts from flag and prevented them from speaking; shot at and severely wounded

S680  Letter of Banner Davis mentions home folks will have to fight the Butternuts. Hopes the next draft will get the Butternut Club.  

S1238 *Kate Starks mentions butternuts in her letters to her husband away in the Civil War
*Butternut threatened to tear Stars and Stripes down in Napoleon, fight began  
*William Starks to Leander hopes butternuts have to try soldiering   
*Olderbalz turned Butternut and running for Representative  
*Draft has fallen heavily on Butternuts

S2600 Bitterness of Butternuts in legislature toward Governor [Morton] is unbounded have openly declared that he must be broken down and sacrificed

S69 Aug 6th 1863 went to H.P. Bennett’s to Butternut trial. Mentions Bob Barker [a copperhead]

S578 James C.Hanlin, Co. E. 1st Cavalry, in a news article denounces copperheads, or butternuts.  

S2894 Trouble with Butternuts at home (Darlington, Ind. Montgomery County) briefly mentioned in Isaiah Hutchison’s letters

Butternuts--Fountain County
William C. Olds understands that some of the Butternuts around Covington are wearing snake heads and butternuts on watch chains
Olds, William C.

William C. Olds has heard that Butternut convention in Indianapolis ended in big riot and that some ninety persons were arrested and five hundred revolvers were taken from the crowd
Olds, William C.

Civil War—Peace Movement
Civil War--Secret societies

S2682 John M. Wilson, Colonel in the 13th Indiana Regiment says his men, now stationed near Suffolk, VA, would gladly return home to fight the Butternuts, 6-21-1863.  

Civil War--Secret societies—Knights of the Golden Circle
S15 Senator Oliver P.Morton explains his conduct toward the Knights of the Golden Circle, then known as the Sons of Liberty.  Cincinnati Weekly Gazette, 5/10/1876, p.2, c.1; clipping

S2192 Attempted uprising in Indianapolis, guns inboxes labeled “Sunday School books”, Aug. 1864 (p. 71) , in Reminiscence of the Civil War, by George B. Marshall

S223 Letter (6-22-1863) tells of attitude toward the society

S1387 Letter written by Isaac L. Beach at Lafayette on the their plot to depose Governor Morton, seize the arsenal and declare a north western confederacy

S1601 Newsclip:  Report of the Grand Jury, U.S. District Court, May 1862,

S190 Mention of activity of Jennings Co. p. 138

S1229 Letter from H.V. Johnson to Abiah Hayes asking how many friends could be relied upon in township; wish to reinstate old Democratic party then compromise with South and extend slavery over all states and ultimately form an empire. If this fails Prince Napoleon will take Mexico and they will asked [sic] to be annexed (10-29-1862)

S545 A.L.S. of 7-22-1888 of H.C.Griffith, Alma, Neb., giving story of his services as secret agent to ferret out this organization in Indiana.

L31 Has been reading an exposition of the Knights of the Golden Circle

S353 Article written by Mary Adaline Denny, How the capture of Indianapolis by the Knights of the Golden Circle

V 327 & S364 Account of some of the activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Indiana, in the reminiscences of William H. Doll, member of the 6th regiment Indiana volunteers  p. 233

S1456 Letter by J.A. Cravens to M. W. Wines

S308 Solider says he advised a correspondent to have nothing to do with the Society.

S353 Denny, Mary Adaline.  1849 Typescript history on the Knights of the Golden Circle 1977  

Civil War—Secret societies—Sons of Liberty

S1493 Henry B. Carrington says leaders of Order of Sons of Liberty report plot to release prisoners in Camp Morton

S160 Mention of an organization similar to the order of Knights of Golden Circle which was probably Sons of Liberty in Southern Indiana  

S765 Letter from Dick Sprague re great North western conspiracy.  

S2600 During campaign of 1864; are now busy hunting the Sons of Liberty and exposing them; lot of rituals found in Dan Voorhees’ office

S1618  Exposure of the Sons of Liberty found in news clip form Indiana Daily Journal  Extra 8-2-1864

Index to Indiana Magazine of History

Online index covering 1905-2002

Search terms:
Sons of Liberty
Knights of the Golden Circle

Indianapolis Star Index Cards
Search terms:
Knights of the Golden Circle
Sons of Liberty

CLIPPINGS—Subject Headings
History—Civil War—Gen.
History—Civil War--Politics
Indianapolis, History, Civil War

*Taken from The Copperheads of the Middle West by Frank L. Clement.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1960.

Compiled by Janet Meek, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

IN MH 4-24-2015