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The First Time Democrats Tried To Steal An Election

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk
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May 23, 2024 5:00 am

The First Time Democrats Tried To Steal An Election

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk

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May 23, 2024 5:00 am

Historian Patrick K. O'Donnell has written a new book about one of the least-known stories of the Civil War. The story includes Abraham Lincoln, the Secret Service, America's first special forces operation, and a long-forgotten bid by Democrats to rig the 1864 election. It's a dive into long-forgotten American lore that any history buff shouldn't miss. Patrick also answers one of the most hotly-debated questions in American history: Was Robert E. Lee a great man?


Check out Patrick's book, "The Unvanquished," at

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Hey everybody, this is Charlie Kirk Show. Patrick K. O'Donnell, a very well-respected historian, joins the program here. Check it out.

And his book, Unvanquish, that is Unvanquished. Email us as always, freedom at Subscribe to our podcast, open up your podcast application, and type in Charlie Kirk Show.

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You send a message. We play to win. Register now at slash peoples. Joining us this hour is a very important author, Patrick K O'Donnell, author of The Unvanquished, The Untold Story of Lincoln's Special Forces, The Manhunt for Mosby's Rangers, and The Shadow War that Forged America's Special Operations. Patrick K O'Donnell is the author. Patrick, welcome to the program.

It's great to be with you, Charlie. So, Patrick, tell us about your new book. This is my 13th book, Charlie. All 13 of the books that I've ever written have always found me in one way or another.

This is certainly the case with this book. I was driving around Northern Virginia, and I found a sign, a roadside sign, that said The Grapewood Farm Engagement. I was like, what on earth is that? It turns out that that was where John Singleton Mosby, who was one of the main characters in my book who led a band of partisan rangers, ambushed a train with a mountain howitzer, and they blew it up. The story is really compelling because within that story they were pursued by hundreds of Union cavalrymen and included within it was also a foreign volunteer who had fought in the Crimean War. He was mortally wounded and killed and was buried nearby.

That was just sort of the beginning of my journey with this book. The second sign that I found was a sign from a guy by the name of Jack Sterry. What's interesting about this is nearly every World Civil War story has been told, except for the one that I told him, The Unbanguished, and that's on Lincoln's Special Forces or the Jesse Scouts. Jack Sterry was a Jesse Scout, and that was a Union commando that dressed as a confederate. Right before the Battle of the Second Battle of Manassas, he was trying to lead General Hood down the wrong road, and this is near the Plains, Virginia. Most of this Civil War history you can literally drive to in Loudoun County and Prince William County and Fairfax County. These places still exist, and at the Plains there's a little sign next to this front porch restaurant that I found that is the final resting place where Jack Sterry had his last words. He was literally hanged by the confederates after he spent 45 minutes trying to convince General Hood to go down the wrong road where they were supposedly retreating, but instead they were needed at the Second Battle of Manassas, but he gave his life.

Interestingly enough, when they widened the road in 1960, they found Jack's body. This book is about untold stories. It's about Americans that do extraordinary things. It's about personal agency. It's about a smaller story that tells a larger story about the Civil War. It's also about the story of irregular warfare and special operations.

You know, why does that matter? Our lives are being constantly influenced by it. All we have to do is look at the Middle East to know that, but also it's not about just ambushing wagon trains and, you know, going after locomotives. It's about election interference. It's about influencing the press operations. It's about ballot fraud, first ballots, mail-in ballots, 1864, so to let the Union soldiers vote in the field. And, you know, interestingly enough, there's a fraud scheme that I uncovered in the Unvanguished where the Democrats tried to steal the election of 1864. Well, election interference in 1864, tell us more about that. I think that is awfully applicable to what we're living through right now.

There's amazingly interesting... This book is about the unique commandos that went after the South's most dangerous men, and those included John Singleton Moseby's Rangers, but also another shadowy group that's never really been told or stories never been told, and that's the Confederate Secret Service. And the Confederate Secret Service was 100 years ahead of its time in what it was doing.

In the spring of 1864, Jefferson Davis gave the Confederate Secret Service a million dollars in gold, which was an absolutely enormous sum of money to go to Canada and then set up influence operations in Canada, but also it was a department of dirty tricks. They were terrorizing the North with different things, but it was also influencing the election of 1864. And they recognized that the rising part of the Democrat Party in 1864 was the peace movement known as the Copperhead Movement, and this was millions strong. And within this movement were something called the Sons of Liberty and other small splinter groups, and they directly influenced these men through the gold that they had. In fact, the leader of this movement was a disgraced Ohio congressman by the name of Clement Laird Volandium, and he was disgraced by Lincoln. He was put into exile into Canada because he was pro-Confederacy, but he was the mean spring of the Democrat Party in 1864, and the Confederate Secret Service literally was one of their agents.

They were plying him with gold. For instance, one of the great coups was the campaign platform of 1864 for the Democratic Party was partially written by the Confederate Secret Service, and that campaign platform involved an armistice which would bring the war to negotiations and potentially an end. And they recognized that if the South was able to—if there was an armistice, it would be exceptionally hard to restart the war.

And in that sense, the South may gain its independence. But within this, there's also some incredible operations that they launched to influence the press directly. Most of the press—the Civil War was an incredibly unpopular war, and especially in 1864, it wasn't going well for the North at all.

Most of Grant's offenses had stalled. There were hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of casualties. Desertions—there was upwards of over 250,000 desertions in the Union Army alone from the beginning of the war. And it was considered—some of the things, the phrases we hear today, the forever war. And this was talked about then. And I wrote a great article on Fox that aired on Saturday and Sunday about how this election interference or influence operations of the press almost cost Lincoln its reelection in 1864. So they plied Northern newspapers, which were sympathetic towards the South, with money to write articles about the forever war and how it was to erode Northern morale.

And it was very successful. And one of their greatest coups was a phony peace campaign where they basically had a peace conference, which was only there to draw Lincoln out and to make him publicly state that the war could only—that they would only win the war by conquest, there would be no negotiations, and that slavery had to be abolished. In the summer of 1864, that had a detrimental effect on the entire voting population at the time in the North. It was very—it was not looked at as very fondly. I want to ask you a question that applies to something happening in Ukraine. Can you talk about, just really quickly, Lincoln having an election in the midst of a war? What went into that decision?

And was that unusual? Because, I mean, your country's turning apart and there still was an election. Just tease that out for a minute.

I really want to dive into that. I find it fascinating. This is absolutely critical that people understand this. Lincoln went all out in the sense that in the sense that he believed in democracy.

And he was, in the summer of 1864, Washington, D.C. was almost invaded by Jubal Early's army. The Democrats were on the rise, but he still insisted on an election, a free and fair election, which is an extraordinary step. And I think that that's—it's a real example of our democracy in action.

And yeah, that's definitely a problem if you look at places like Ukraine, which aren't necessarily going by that type of democratic example. This is helpful they've been for me personally. They've just been excellent. Andrew and Todd, I'm honored to call them friends. We hang out when I go to Orange County together.

They're really great. So say, Charlie sent me 888-888-1172. That's 888-888-1172. They helped me through a mortgage situation recently that was super complex and moving pieces, and it was really, really tough.

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I love our guest here. I love history. I wish I had more time to study it. I mean, I try to read a fair amount, but there's only so much that one can read. I'm in a lot of biblical history right now.

That's my focus. The Unvanquished is the book, The Untold Story of Lincoln's Special Forces of the Manhunt for Mosby Rangers and the Shadow War that Forged America's Special Operations by Patrick K. O'Donnell. So Patrick, take some time here. Just set the table. What was Lincoln's decision-making process? The country is falling apart. It is literally a civil war, and he says we're still going to have an election.

Yeah, I'll take you back in time. I'll take our guest back in time to the summer of 1864. Jubal Early and his army of Confederates, 15,000 strong, about 12,000 strong, go after the Capitol of the United States, and they're at the gates of the Capitol at Fort Stevens, for instance, which is on Georgia Avenue. They march down Georgia Avenue, and there are hardly any Americans in the entrenchments in Washington, D.C. They had all been removed to Petersburg, where there's a siege going on with Robert E. Lee's army. And they're on the march, and at the right moment, the VI Corps jumps off of the boat. The Union VI Corps jumps off of boats at the Washington Navy Yard and literally is marching towards Fort Stevens, and it saves the Capitol at the nick of time.

Had Jubal Early gone in maybe a couple hours earlier, Washington would have been sacked or burned. And this is the stage that's going on in the summer of 1864. It's a disaster for Lincoln. He tells his cabinet, you don't think I'm going to be beat?

I know I'm going to be beat. And then he does something that's really extraordinary, Charlie. It's called the blind memorandum. And he writes a memo that says that he will have an election and that he will also basically participate with the president-elect, who is George McClellan, who was the Democrat at the time.

And then he takes the memo, puts it in an envelope, and he doesn't tell his cabinet members what is in the envelope, but makes them all sign it and agree to its contents. That is democracy in action. You know, at the most, you know, the depths of despair, Lincoln still believes in the Republic and believes in a fair vote that's out there. I just think that's so incredibly important. And it's a lesson that you shall not forsake your core principles just because there's a war going on. Who is Mosby?

Tell us. John Singleton Mosby is one of the most extraordinary Americans out there. He is the origin or pioneer of modern American guerrilla warfare. He's a 28-year-old, 5'7", kind of lanky guy that is brilliant. He's a lawyer. He nearly kills somebody in a fight with a pistol in his days as a law student. And then he begins the war as a cavalryman with Jeb Stuart.

He has this incredible ride, that he's the tactical reconnaissance for. And then he sort of tells Jeb Stuart, hey, I want to have an opportunity to form a guerrilla force. And Jeb Stuart gives him one guy with a club foot and says, go at it, and you can create your own guerrilla warfare force in Northern Virginia.

It doesn't go well for Mosby at all. He's rounded up at a train station, literally with his pants down, his pistols are on his horse, and he's taken to a union prison camp, and several months later he's exchanged. But he makes lemons out of lemonade.

It's a really amazing story. As he is being exchanged for a union officer, this is part of a prisoner exchange, he's riding down the James River on a steamboat, and he sees all kinds of union reinforcements that are gearing up for battle. And he realizes that McClellan is going to make a massive push. And this is actionable intelligence, strategic level intelligence, and he recognizes what's going to happen. And as soon as he gets off the boat near Richmond, he rides immediately towards General Lee's headquarters, and suddenly this lowly lieutenant shows up. And he's all dusty and he's exhausted, he's thirsty, but he tells Lee that he has vital information that will potentially change the course of the campaign. And Lee is initially suspicious of who this guy is, but he listens and he recognizes that there's somebody really that's an important person here.

And this information literally changes the course of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, which the Confederacy wins thanks to Mosby's intelligence. to become a pioneering eye surgeon in America. When tasked with restoring the sight of an orphan, you must confront the trauma of living through the violent communist uprising in his youth, the Cultural Revolution. You'll be encouraged to see life from a new perspective and walk out of the theater feeling a renewed sense of purpose. It's everything awe-inspiring you expect from Angel Studios. In theaters now, find out if the ghosts of Dr. Wang's past shattered his sanity or propel him to accomplish the impossible for a child in need. You can get tickets today at a theater near you by visiting slash Charlie. Check it out right now, slash Charlie.

The book is called Unvanquished. I want to just make sure you're about to make an argument that was about Mosby. Patrick, please continue. Mosby then reforms.

He's given another opportunity after this disastrous first chance of being a partisan ranger. And this occurs in the winter of 1862 at a place called Oakham Manor. And these places, what's so cool about it is you can literally drive around Loudoun County in these mansions and the skirmish sites, all of them are there.

I've got the maps in the books that allow you actually to go visit these places. But in the winter of 1962, he meets with Jeff Stewart and he says, okay, you've got six men, then you can go try it again. John Singleton Mosby takes those six men and turns them into a thousand. And those thousand men will then tie up tens of thousands of Union soldiers. They ambush wagon trains. They go after locomotives.

They take out bridges. They go after high value targets, including, it's an incredible story, they literally penetrate deep into Union lines at Fairfax Courthouse and they literally capture a general, only 60 men strong. They capture a general within the midst of this huge cavalry encampment near Centreville and then Fairfax. They infiltrate out.

And it's an incredible story. He goes into the general and he says to the general who's sleeping, do you know who John Singleton Mosby is? And the general is very sleep deprived. He wakes up and he goes, yeah, have you caught him?

No, he has caught you. And he literally captures this guy and then they ride back to Mosby's encampment. And this is just the beginning of an amazingly epic story. And after the war, it's quite fascinating, Mosby is hunted by the Union, hunted by men that I write about in my book, the Jesse Scouts, but he's hunted. And after the war is over, he's still harassed constantly. And Mrs. Mosby writes a letter to General Grant asking if he could just sort of let my husband alone. And Grant acquiesces to that demand and asks for an audience. And he meets Grant near the White House. And these two men become best friends. John Singleton Mosby then becomes a Republican and literally is the campaign manager for President Grant later on in Virginia. And one of my favorite sayings in the book is, you know, they ask Mosby what it's like to be a Republican. And he goes, hell is being a Republican in Virginia. And he's literally shot at and almost assassinated. So let me ask you, Patrick, there's so many angles we could go here.

And I think one is applicable. If you turn on MSNBC, granted, if you have a drinking game, and the word is insurrection, you'll have to be admitted to a hospital or a liver transplant because they say it 10 or 12 times a day, insurrection, insurrection. What does an actual insurrection look like versus what we, you know, the live action role play thing that we saw in 2020? Can you walk us through where, because there was a great reaction after the Civil War in the United States Constitution, the 14th Amendment, to talk about that idea, insurrection or rebellion.

Compare and contrast what a legitimate insurrection against the government looks like. Well, for one, the unvanquish actually has, it uncovers, an untold insurrection that was plotted by the Confederate Secret Service in the summer of 1864. The Sons of Liberty, otherwise they were the main participants of the Copperhead movement, were, you know, they had, these guys were a secret society. They had, they were armed to the teeth by the Confederate Secret Service. They were given pistols and rifles, you know, boxes would show up that were titled Bibles, when in fact they were pistols or colts or even rifles. And in the summer of 1864, right around the election of the Democrat election of 1864, which ironically was in Chicago in 1864, there was a plan by the Secret Service to create an insurrection. This was one of the great fears that Lincoln had.

It was called the Fire in the Rear. In this movement, there were hundreds of thousands strong. They were armed to the teeth with weapons, but they got cold feet.

And they got cold feet because of the political influence operations that the Secret Service had performed with the press. They literally believed that they could win at the ballot box versus an armed insurrection. But an insurrection is obviously one that involves arms and weapons. And, you know, this is, this is something that, you know, the Civil War is known for its grand battles that are out there. But it's also an insurrection or a insurgency. And that's one of the things that had the South, you know, utilized guerrilla warfare that John Singleton Mosby and the Confederate Secret Service had pioneered, to a greater effect, it would have been one of the greatest things, you know, the greatest insurgencies to ever quell in history. An insurgency in the 20th and 21st century is almost impossible to defeat if it has the support of the population. That is, that is a known fact.

And the South had completely supported, you know, its soldiers in the field. And, you know, this book has some very, very powerful themes of tenets of special operations. But it has another very important theme, and that is the theme of forgiveness. And that is a theme that that comes about at Appomattox, where General Lee and General Grant do something that's really quite extraordinary. Lee disobeys a direct order to conduct Mosby-style guerrilla warfare, and go into the mountains and basically, you know, fight to the end.

And this would have been almost impossible to distinguish. But he realizes that, you know, America has a better path. And Grant, to his credit, you know, recognizes that he treats Lee with respect. Instead of rounding these men up like, you know, they're the SS or something, they're given their parole. Their rifles are taken away from them, but they're allowed to keep their sidearms and swords, and they're allowed to disperse and go back to their homes. And this sets the tone for the reconciliation that begins at Appomattox. And then the other Confederate armies that are still in the field, hundreds of thousands of strong.

Literally, they follow suit, but it takes months afterwards. So Patrick, the idea of a Civil War is being talked about a lot in this country right now. What can we learn from Lincoln to heal our divides and to try to prevent that?

What character attributes? What actions did he take? What can we learn from this era to prevent it? Because the Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American history.

It's something we never want to repeat. And I think the statesmanship is the thing that we can learn from, the forgiveness, the forgiving of men. I mean, at Appomattox, they set aside their differences and they acted, and Lee in particular, acts in the best interest of a future America. All of his men say, you should go into the hills and we should fight it out to the end. And Lee says, no, I'm not going to do it.

I'm going to disobey Jefferson Davis's direct order. And then to Grant's credit, he's not rounding these men up like they're some sort of, they're truly just traitors. He recognizes that these are fellow Americans and that the healing process begins there. And I think that's an important thing today, that we're all fellow Americans. The things that bind us together are freedom and liberty.

It's not some sort of this woke culture and all the other things that are going on. It's freedom and liberty that were founded at the revolution that changed the world. It's the idea of America that is so powerful that we're literally collapse empires after 1775 and 1776 and going forward. It's those that are ideals of freedom and liberty, which still resonate today more than ever.

That is exactly right. And the path to not repeat another civil war is going to require statesmanship and is going to require a ruling class that actually cares about this country. One of the ways I actually think we get closer to such conflict is when you take down the statues of people that might have been involved in the Confederacy.

Can you speak to that? And for example, they've been trying to rename Washington and Lee for quite some time, as you well know, in Virginia. They've been going after Robert E. Lee. What is your reaction to this push, this continual, activist push, to rename military bases to take down statues of people that might have been involved in the Confederacy, or even taking down statues of Lincoln? Your reaction?

Four or five years ago, the Pentagon officially issued a statement saying that they were opposed to renaming the bases because they were part of the healing process. And that was absolutely correct. What we have now is you're taking a wrecking ball to history.

And you know what? History isn't a pleasant thing. And the fact that we're not trying to necessarily glorify the Confederacy, but it's important to have some of these things there so that people ask questions about what occurred in 1861 through 1865. And I think that that's why it's very important to preserve them. I don't agree with renaming or taking down statues.

I believe in providing context for these things. I think that's very important to preserve our history because right now our history is under attack and under assault. And our history is part of what makes us Americans.

It's part of the greatness of America. It's that history that is American exceptionalism that's all over the almost 250 years that we've been here. So let me just ask you, Robert E. Lee, would you say he was a great man? I think that he became a great man because of not what he did in the field. He was a great general.

I mean, he was one of the best, but it's what he didn't do. And that is that he disobeyed a direct order from Jefferson Davis and surrendered his army versus going into the field and actually conducting guerrilla warfare, which logically was the right thing to do from a military standpoint. And it would have potentially worked in the sense that it would definitely prolonged the South many, many years because people don't realize that the Union had occupied hardly any of the South, even in 1865.

They never had enough soldiers to literally occupy the entire South. And this was a major problem, but it was Robert E. Lee that disobeys that order and changes America. America's trajectory to becoming a superpower then becomes realized. Instead of a divided country, we then become united again.

And that puts us on an amazing path. You are a historian and an excellent one. What is one or two or three things about the Civil War that you've learned that you wish America knew that could be helpful for the time of which we are in?

The book that I wrote is always surprise-making. This book puts you in the saddle of these men. It's not a high-level view of the Civil War. It takes a conflict that's hundreds of thousands, millions of men and women fighting this epic Civil War, and it brings it down to a very, very human level.

I mean, there was an incredible review in the Wall Street Journal the other day, just epic review of the book, and there's many on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But it's about this epic conflict, but it's also about bringing it down a very human level, and the scout or the guerrilla ranger that was fighting. And within that is a sense of humanity that I didn't really expect to find. I mean, this is an absolutely brutal and cutthroat war.

I mean, it rages in places like West Virginia and Appalachia, where it's brother against brother, family against family, next door neighbor against the neighbor. But there's also a sense of humanity that pervades, where people recognize one another as fellow human beings, and they rise above. And it's our better angels, so to speak, as Americans, in many cases, on both sides, that I found just striking and fascinating. I think that's amazing. Patrick, excellent work. And just one more time, the book Unvanquished.

How can people find it? It's out. And then also just mention your other books. You have a portfolio of impressive literature. Thank you. This is my 13th book. I'm at Combat Historian on Twitter and Getter.

My website is my name, This is the Unvanquished. It was a huge bestseller.

The first week it came out, it still is. It's already in its third printing, and it's Amazon's Book of the Month for History. It can be found at the front of the store at Barnes and Noble, and it's right there at, and it continues to be a bestseller.

But you can get a hold of me on Getter or on Twitter. I have a bunch of signings, and I had some really amazing signings at Appomattox, where I met many of our incredible listeners and viewers, and I had the chance to interact with them and find out what they thought of the book. And yes, I've written 13 books, three on the Revolutionary War. I've got a third one that'll be coming out on the 250th anniversary, but also seven or eight on World War II, one on World War I in Korea. And they all have the central theme of how a small group of Americans or individuals can literally change the course of history through their agency.

And this happens over and over. Every generation, you know, these are dark times, but every generation, they rise to the top, a small group of people to change and bend and shape history. Excellent work, Patrick. Thank you so much, and God bless you. Thank you.

God bless you, too. It was an honor to be on your show, Charlie. Thank you. Come back. I mean that. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening, everybody. Email us, as always, at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 06:21:08 / 2024-05-23 06:34:12 / 13

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