It does not matter who is the writer of the following pages. If it did, no inducement likely to be offered, would tempt him to publish his name. He has no desire to be tracked out by the Brothers of the Southern Cross, and he knows too much of their deathless hatred and hound-like pertinacity, their numbers, and the ramifications of their organization, already encroaching on southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to carelessly take the slightest risk of anything of the kind.
It is due to the public, however, that one who pretends to make an exposure like this, in which the whole nation is interested, should offer some plausible explanation of the means by which he became possessed of the information. For this explanation the reader is referred to the narrative following.
As to the truthfulness of the exposure, the writer is content to leave its vindication to the events of the future, confident that so far as the workings of the K. K. K. are ever discovered, they will confirm the main facts as given here. Of course there are many minor points on which it is not likely there will ever be more positive testimony than that here given. This must be so from the nature of the case, as will plainly appear in the following pages.
After the war, which had not benefited my purse extravagantly, I wandered off into the interior of Georgia, and finally engaged in business in one of the interior counties. I knew the southern people pretty well before the war, had been much among them, and was familiar with their habits, prejudices, etc. For my own convenience and safety, when I went into business I passed as a Kentuckian, and thereby avoided many personal and business annoyances. At first this was not particularly disagreeable, as no very decided opinions were expected while the country was still thoroughly under the national armies. Gradually, however, it became worse and worse, until at length, to keep up my pretensions, and save my business, I was compelled to profess the most ultra southern views and prejudices. I thought that there would never be further active opposition to the national authority, and so submitted to the situation, rather than lose what little I had by leaving it. To sell it for anything worth taking, was simply impossible in the state of the country. So much for the way I came to know what is about to be told.
In the summer of 1867, one of my neighbors called one morning, and said that an important meeting was to come off that night, at a house about three miles from our town. Every good Southerner, he said, was interested, and he wanted me to go. Of course I had heard of organizations throughout the South, and knew from the manner of this man's talk, that something of the kind was in the wind now. I knew, too, that it would not do to disregard the appeal to "every good Southerner," and so I went with him.
The meeting was not at any house, however. Half a mile from the house he had named, my escort turned his horse into a bridle-path, leading up into a wild, hilly district, and I followed, of course. A mile or so on this path, away from any habitation, my companion suddenly slackened his horse's pace, and proceeded very cautiously, bidding me be silent. In a few minutes I distinctly heard the click of a musket lock, as the piece was brought to a full cock. It was too dark to see anything. My companion carried an Enfield rifle, and instantly stopping his horse, he cocked his piece and pulled the trigger, almost without a pause. Of course I was somewhat alarmed and astonished; but before I could do more than stop my horse, my escort dismounted, handed me his reins, and whispering that I was to remain there, walked slowly forward toward the spot where I had heard the first click of the gun-lock. In a moment or so he returned as quietly, and we proceeded as silently as before....