Confederate Operatives in Mattoon
At the intersection of Western Avenue and US-45 (Il-121), Mattoon, IL
The City of Mattoon, The Mattoon Community Trust, The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, Intrepid Consulting Services, Inc. and The Illinois State Historical Society
With the fortunes of conventional warfare turning rapidly against the Confederate States of America in early 1864, the Confederate government chose to embark on a formal campaign of behind-the-lines insurrection, subversion and sabotage in the North. The Confederates opted to employ Toronto-based military personnel and pro-Southern sympathizers in the North known as Copperheads to achieve their aims. Their objectives included the release rebel prisoners of war to create a Confederate Army of the North for traditional military operations, to take over state governments and undertake destructive operations that would hinder the Union war effort. Although encompassing activities along the entire Canadian frontier, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio were the focus of this campaign which became known as the Northwest Conspiracy.
In September of 1864, after the failed Chicago Revolt operation during the Democratic Party's National Convention, special operators of the Confederate Canadian Squadron, under the command of Captain Thomas Henry Hines and his colleague Captain John B. Castleman withdrew to Mattoon and Marshall, Illinois. The Canadian Squadron operators in central Illinois were Confederate officers, former cavalrymen and escaped prisoners of war recruited by Hines to conduct clandestine operations within the region. While based in Mattoon and Marshall, Hines and his men conducted numerous successful clandestine missions, including the destruction of federal warehouses in Mattoon and river steamers on the St. Louis waterfront.
The Canadian Squadron's activities provided covert tactical concepts adhered to by the United States Office of Strategic Services during World War II and the OSS's successor, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Print marker information