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The Knights of the Golden Circle
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-343-3
Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
eBook Length: 72 Pages
Published: September 2005

From inside the flap

Few people know that Canadians played a vital role in the American Civil War. Work with Michael and his friend Chris when they find a can of Double Eagle American gold coins hidden in an old stone bridge near their home. In the can is a short note that brings a part of history to light that few people today know about. The Knights of the Golden Circle were formed to finance the second rising of the South. Learn about the Civil War and discover how an actor on the stage changed the history of America.

The Knights of the Golden Circle (Excerpt)

The Knights of the Golden Circle

It was neither late nor early, but for one man it was time he moved away from the den where peopleís souls were lost as the liquor numbed their brains and made men loosen their tongues.

As he stepped out of the tavern into the street, he couldn?t tell where he was. It could have been any city in America or Europe. Although from the sounds around him as the crowds pushed on their merry way, he felt like he was in a European world and not here in a city just north of the border. He looked furtively around him. Here in Montreal, one of the oldest cities in North America, he should feel safe from those who were anxious to stop him. How he hated them. He had to do something. There were many like him who wanted to stop the damned Yanks from winning the bloody war that was killing off the cream of his countrymen. He had no love for the Northern States or President Abraham Lincoln, no matter how eloquent his speeches were. How could he watch as blue-jacketed armies cut down southern boys in threadworn gray uniforms, their feet bare and blood soaked? All the South wanted was to be left alone as they had been for nearly 100 years.

He knew there were spies up here in Lower Canada. So he watched his words as he watched his back. If his enemies knew what he and his compatriots were planning, his death would be ordered and his body would be found in a gutter, stripped of his identity and left for a pauperís grave.

He knew he was an actor on a stage where the very life of the Land of Dixie was crying out from the many wounds that had been inflicted upon her. He smiled ruefully to himself. Yes, he was an actor, familiar with being a performer for those patrons who wanted to be entertained. He wasn?t as good as his brother, but he and two of his brothers and his famous father had the ability to speak a pretty phrase and some thought it was marvellous.

Edwin might be the better actor; his career had taken him to Europe and already the critics were calling him the greatest Shakespearean actor of the 19th century. He had to give his brother his due. But perhaps if he accomplished his goal, his brother would have to acknowledge that he had stolen centre stage and had focused the spotlight on himself.

Chapter One

"History Lessons"

Barnaby Worth looked at the list of student names and smiled. He recognized at least one familiar name. So he was to have another Small in his class. He looked up at the students who sat in their seats waiting until the history teacher began. The first day of school was as much a worry for them as it was for any teacher.

The boy who matched the name was goodlooking; he wasn?t as tall as his brother Andrew, but there were the same general features. Andrew had been a good student. He wondered if Michael Small would be one as well.

"Open your textbooks to the section on the American Civil War. We are going to study a war that was perhaps the most bloody war until the First World War. A civil war is more terrible than wars between countries because it is a war between neighbours, between families, between father and son, brothers or cousins. The American Civil War was a terrible war. Few know that over 60,000 Canadians fought in the American war. They fought on both sides. It is believed 50,000 fought for the North and 10,000 fought for the South.

The British territory that became Canada profited greatly from this war. We didn?t invade nor was there any need, although more than a few secret agents from both the North and the South used Canada as a staging ground. Our merchants provided supplies to the war machine of the North: boots, wool blankets and food. While each side was killing each other, our merchants used opportunities to make a good profit by filling the void and the insatiable demand of a country at war."

The way their teacher molded history sparked interest in his students; no wonder Barnaby Worth was respected as a teacher.

"Who has heard of the Congressional Medal of Honor?"

One or two students raised their hands.

"All right, Michael Small, what is that medal?"

"Sir, itís the equivalent, I believe, of the Victoria Cross and is awarded for some extreme act of bravery in battle."

"Quite right. Did any of you know that many Canadians were recipients of that medal?"

There was a show of interest as the students moved in their seats listening and wondering. Mr. Worth had focused their attention.

"Yes, Canadians have always been known for their bravery in battle. In the First World War it was the Canadians who were the most feared by the Germans. In fact we can proudly claim that our troops were the shock troops and we were responsible for the final success in ending the war and capturing thousands of German soldiers, doing what both the British and the French had failed to do as they lost tens of thousands of men in the vain effort.

Here are two names of Canadians who won the Congressional medal and this has been taken from records that a Civil War historian is collecting.

James McIntosh was born in Canada in 1833. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

He was on board the U.S.S. Richmond during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864.

Despite damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Mclntosh performed his duties with skill and courage throughout the prolonged battle, which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the successful attacks carried out on Fort Morgan.

For this action he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. (New York. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864)

Albert O?Connor was born in Canada. He enlisted at West Point Township, Columbia County, Wis., in Company A of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry.

He was a sergeant in his regiment at Gravelly Run, Va. on the 31st of March and 1 April 1865. On the 31st of March 1865, he and a comrade, freed a Union officer from a detachment of 9 Confederates, capturing 3 of the detachment and dispersing the remainder, and on 1 April 1865 he seized a stand of Confederate colours, killing a Confederate officer in a hand-to-hand contest over the colours which he retained until surrounded by Confederates and compelled to relinquish them.

For these actions he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"How was your first day of class?" Jim Small asked his son.

Michael looked up. "It was better than I thought. Our history teacher is Barnaby Worth and I?ve always been told that he can make history interesting. Andrew said that Mr. Worth is probably one of the best teachers he ever had. He started out talking about the Canadians in the American Civil War. Boy, I never knew how involved we were. I always thought it was a war confined to Americans. Did you know that over 17 Canadians won the Congressional Medal of Honor?"

His father saw the keen interest in his sonís face.

"No, but I knew we were a fertile ground for schemers and spies. We were considered a part of the British Empire and therefore not really trusted by the administration in the White House. I guess they never forgave us for burning the Presidentís mansion. In fact thatís why the White House got its name. The Americans whitewashed the walls to cover up the stains after a raid on their capital city chased the President away and ruined his breakfast."

Michael looked up in surprise. He was never sure whether his father was making up stories or telling the truth. His father had the ability to weave stories that drew you in and you became as much a victim as the poor hero or heroine in the story. You see, his father was a storyteller and therefore could stretch the truth.

My father tells fibs. Itís not a big lie, but itís a lie just the same when he tells people that our dog is a Himalayan Snow Leopard Hound, the only one in the country! I choke with embarrassment. Most people have never seen a dog like ours. I must admit he is different. When they ask and my father is around, he tells them the fib. They just shake their heads in agreement and go away happy in the knowledge that they have seen their first Himalayan Snow Leopard Hound. My mother calls him an HFP (a hound from the pound).

We got him from the Humane Society when I was ten years old. He was just a small bundle that someone had left for adoption. They told us he was a mixture of an Australian Cattle dog and Labrador Retriever. They assured us that he wouldn?t grow too large. He had colours of white, brown, black and gray splashed together almost as if a mad abstract painter had a fit while mixing his colours. Heís beautiful and our old dog Snooch tolerates him. I guess he has never seen a Himalayan Snow Leopard Hound. But his colours attract attention and they ask all sorts of questions. Then the fib starts again. My father considers it a joke. So when my father tells me something I?ve learned to be skeptical.

My mother didn?t believe the pup wouldn?t grow too large.

"Just look at his paws; they?re like elephantís feet."

The first visit to our vet confirmed Momís belief. "Heís a beauty, " he said. "I think he has Great Dane in him as well as Australian Cattle dog and Labrador.

Within a year he had doubled the Humane Societyís weight prediction.

Freckles is smart! We taught him to roll over, shake a paw, sit and lie down, but we never could teach him to stop hating pick-up trucks. He hates them with a passion. In his car chasing youth he caught up to a pick-up truck with the back gate down. When he jumped up he was hit and spun around into the ditch. An angry gouge was taken out of his hide. He never forgot or forgave.

Freckles is a hunter and Snooch has let him take on the responsibilities of protecting us. Heís the best hunter in the world. He specializes in mosquitoes. This can be disconcerting when one doesn?t know about his skill. He has taken on the role of keeping mosquitoes away from us. especially from Mom when she is weeding the garden, and from anyone who happens to visit. Having a huge and fierce looking dog suddenly lunge at your face, arm or leg can be intimidating. If you are afraid of dogs, it can be terrifying. Freckles doesn?t understand this.

I remember the event that will always stay with me. The sudden crash and thud on the roof woke me from my homework. Dad was at work and Mom had phoned to say she would be a few minutes late. I guess she was doing some last minute shopping. My sisters and brother were at friends, so I was manning the fort.

I rushed outside to see what had happened. The big spruce tree at the back of the house had crashed onto our metal roof.

I phoned Dad at work to tell him. He said he would call Davis, the Tree Surgeon. He called back a few minutes later and told me that the tree people were sending over an emergency crew.

Six men arrived. They couldn?t get any heavy equipment behind the house and had to work with chainsaws, heavy ropes and pulleys. I watched all the excitement. Freckles supervised.

Working on a metal roof forced them to take precautions in case the trunk of the tree pierced the metal. Three-foot chunks were cut off one by one and were hoisted by pulleys attached to a nearby pine. Each chunk was pulled up and then swayed off the roof and down to the waiting crew on the ground. It was hot and humid. The mosquitoes were having a field day.

I decided to make the workers and myself some lemonade and went back into the house. When I came out with the tray of the glasses and the jug of lemonade the noise had stopped; there was no activity on the ground at all.

Four men who had been doing the groundwork were all up on the ladder that was against the house, and under the eaves.

"Nice dog! Good dog! Lay down dog!" they pleaded.

Freckles was at the base of the ladder, standing up and touching the third rung. His jaws were wide open and making chomping noises. The four burly men had taken the nearest route to escape.

"Kid! Call off your dog!"

I knew what he was doing and started to laugh even though it was impolite.

"Heís trying to help you guys. Heís catching mosquitoes. I call him my canine mosquito catcher. Heís the best mosquito hunter in the world?"