Few people know of the Knights of the Golden Circle and even fewer know about the purpose for which it existed. It is probably the greatest untold story today in the history of the United States. That is unusual because during the last century this very large, powerful, secret and subversive southern organization had such a profound influence and effect over the course of many years that they almost succeeded in changing the course of our history.
It has been said of them that they were one of the deadliest, wealthiest, most secretive and subversive spy and underground organizations in the history of the world. It is known that they operated not only in the United States, but also around the glove for 65 years (1851 to 1916). Also, that the original Ku Klux Klan was their military arm. Some of the finest and craftiest brains in the South helped organize and direct the activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle. The group was heavy on ritual, most of which was borrowed from the Masonic Lodge and later from the Knights of Pythias. Some were also members of the Rosicrucians. Their wealth was due to the huge amount of money, valuables and equipment that they had accumulated for the purpose of restarting the Civil War.
So, you might wonder then if that is true, why haven't we read about them in our history books or heard them mentioned in our schools before? That is a hard question to answer, but maybe because they were such devout, die-hard, southern rebels, working for a southern cause that was eventually defeated and one that is not popular today. However, the fact remains that since they did exist and were a very large and powerful organization for many years, I think that their story should be known today.
But during the 1800's, many stories and articles did appear about the Knights of the Golden Circle in many newspapers, magazines and periodicals, before, during, and after the Civil War. But somehow, these stories have been overlooked or purposely omitted from our modern-day history books. So, who were the Knights of the Golden Circle and what was their purpose?
Actually, their beginning goes back to a long period before the Civil War when our young nation was reaching out for more territory. They were part of the overall imperialist's movement to expand out borders westward, even though they had not officially taken on the name of the Knights of the Golden Circle. Then, when the issue of slavery began to divide the sentiments of our country, they started to support the Southern states in trying to keep slavery alive because most of them were Southerners. As the issue of slavery finally divided the Union and the Civil War began, they became ardent supporters of the southern cause. This is when the organization became secret and went underground in their efforts to aid the Confederacy. Since they were considered subversive, that is why they became a secret organization. President Lincoln once referred to their very effective efforts against the North, as a “Fifth Column.” That could have been the origin of the term.
Then, after the war was over, they refused to accept the terms of the southern surrender. They had been working diligently for many years to accomplish their goals and were not about to give them up. They had too much momentum going. Also, they were still bitter over the issue of slavery and of not establishing a Confederate nation independent from the northern states. This is when they went underground with a strongly determined and clandestine, even bizarre, plan to eventually restart the Civil War at a later time.
One of the things they needed to accomplish this was to firs, be well supplied and equipped. That is when they began to collect money, jewelry, gold, silver and other valuable items from sympathizers to finance their cause. Additionally, they collected guns, ammunition, armament, uniforms, and other items to supply an army. This was the start of their huge treasure trove when they began to hide these items in mines and tunnesl throughout the country, then covering the entrance. In other places, holes and huge tunnels were dug, items buried, then cleverly concealed. That happened mostly in the southern part of the United States, especially in the Southeast.
Amazing . . . unbelievable . . . ridiculous! Of course, it may sound that way, but who they were and what they did is a matter of record that is substantiated in many newspaper articles and other publications during the 1800's and later.
History was one of my favorite subjects during my school years (starting in the 1930's) and later during college and while earning a Ph.D. in archaeology. Yet, nothing was ever mentioned about the Knights of the Golden Circle. I have been heavily involved in hunting for lost treasures and mines for many years, and this is when I first heard about the Knights of the Golden Circle and the huge treasure caches they buried throughout the United States following the Civil War with the intent to restart the war again at a later date and a time when they had amassed enough resources to be successful with their daring venture.
During the 1970's, a few stories began to appear in some of the treasure publications giving some details about the amazing treasures of the Knights of the Golden Circle . If this were so, then I would have to classify it as America 's greatest treasure and something that I would have to seriously investigate.
During this time period, I was also working on the staff of our most notable treasure publications, including: Treasure Magazine, Treasure Search, Treasure Found, Treasure Hunter and Treasure Diver as the technical consultant and feature storywriter. I alwo wrote the “Question and Answer Columns.” Some of the questions that readers would ask were for information on the Knights of the Golden Circle treasures. That forced me to begin a research project on this amazing subject matter.
In the next chapter, let's look at what has been recorded about the history of this astonishing organization and the important part that they played in our history during the last century.