At 4.30 o'clock 250 men of the Fifty-fourth Regiment arrived in a trains from Mattoon, 75 of whom were mounted by Colonel Mitchell. By these the country was scoured for some distance, and in the course of the next day or two about 30 prisoners were captured. Lieutenant-Colonel Oakes, the acting assistant provost-marshal-general of the State, also took immediately and vigorous measures for the protection of the country, and assembled strong bodies of troops not only at Charleston, but at Mattoon and at Paris (in Edgar County), which places were supposed to be threatened with attack. It is principally from the full and detailed official report of this officer that the circumstances above narrated have been derived.
The insurgents, after leaving the scene of their crime, separated, but assembled on the same night at a rendezvous which had been indicated by their leaders. Thence they moved still farther south, separating as before, but assembling from day to day at some fixes point until Saturday of the same week, when the main body, which had become less and less, finally disbanded at a rendezvous near the town of Martinsville, Ill. At each place of meeting the more violent were in favor of pressing guns and ammunition, returning to Charleston, and again making an attack upon the troops and loyal citizens. These, however, were overruled by the majority.
In regard to this remarkable outbreak, it was quite evident at the moment, and still more so when the evidence now presented came to be taken, that it was the result of a preconcerted and carefully arranged plan. The parties who had long been associated in a political and military organization, who had frequently drilled together under their chosen leaders, who for some time had indulged in significant threats of "cleaning out" the soldiers and those who opposed their traitorous designs, and many of whom had been noted for their openly avowed and bitter disloyalty, expressed even while holding civil offices of trust and importance, were the same who assembled at Charleston on the 28th of March with carefully-concealed weapons, land who suddenly commenced a murderous assault upon every individual whom they saw dressed in the uniform of the United States.
The fact that they selected for this assault a period most opportune for their plans, when the presence of an unusual crowd would render their gathering less suspected, and when at the same time those who were the objects of their attack would be dispersed and disorganized; the character of their firing, which appeared to be in a single volley or very rapid succession of shots, and which followed instantaneously upon the given signal; the implicit obedience which they gave to the orders of their chief, or so-called "colonel," who would appear to have been awaiting the right moment to assume command, and whose appearance on the scene of action was evidently expected; the manner in which they rallied, marched off together, and held together until a dread of the increasing force of the U. S. troops induced them to disband-all these are circumstances which show most conclusively that this insurrection was no casual effort of lawless men, but the act of a body of conspirators, determined to effect, and by the most violent and summary proceedings, the overthrow of the military authority of the Government in that region of country.
That the insurrection was not more widely extended, and did not assume more threatening proportions, is doubtless owing to the vigorous measures taken by Lieutenant-Colonel Oakes and Colonel Mitchell to crush it at its inception. Of this rebellion in petty of traitors but