The Condition of Illinois.

[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

SHRINGFIELD, Sept. 8, 1863.


Accounts from all parts of the State continue to represent its condition as alarming. The Union men in many places are at the mercy of armed and drilled Copperheads, who as in the case of Vandalia, Fayette county, often triumph over the authorities. In that case the force of the rebels consisted of the three arms of the service — foot, horse and artillery. They were provided with two pieces of cannon, which were planted in the Fair Ground, so as to rake any force attempting to take possession of it. It was evident from the manner in which the affair was managed, that the insurgents, or rebels, were under the command of skillful officers. They were well handled, and appeared to have arrived at a fair degree of perfection in drill. It is stated that a resigned Colonel of an Illinois regiment not very favorably noticed for its conduct since its organization, commanded this force. The Democratic press in that region claim that there were Republicans in this force. — The Union men, finding they were powerless against this armed mob, gave up the prisoners claimed by its leaders, who then ordered their legions to disperse. This is an alarming state of things in this State, which is thus left at the mercy of men opposed to the existing national and State Governments. There is not a musket at this moment in the possession of the Government of this State; while, on the other hand, I hear of its enemies arming and preparing for an eventuality which their speakers assert is sure to come. When members of Congress recently elected encourage this arming and drilling, and tell the people that they will yet be compelled to do as their fathers did in the revolution, the public may be sure there is something dangerous in the wind.

The moment it was announced that the Governor was about to organize the militia, the Copperheads raised their companies, gotten up in a twinkling, and were eagerly demanding arms. Judge Duff and other leaders were to have not only regiments, but brigades in the field. What would the people think of a militia organized in this State as follows — of its loyalty and efficiency in supporting the Governor and President?

Major General Harney, Commander-in-Chief.

Brigadier General McKinstry.

Brigadier General Jim Barrett.

Brigadier General Duff.

Brigadier General Singleton.

Brigadier General L. W. Ross.

Brigadier General Jim Robinson.

The Governor or President would have as much chance for fair play or protection in that crowd as Caesar had in the midst of the conspiators in the Senate chamber! Yet these are the men to whose tender mercies the State is left, now that our troops are all abroad, and the militia without arms at home.

The following letter from a Government official will give a good idea of the condition of that part of the State from which he writes. I will vouch for the character of the author, and of his competency to judge of what he writes:

WINCHESTER, Sept. 2d. 1863.

SIR: I have just returned from a tour (official,) through this (10th) Congressional District. I find the public mind in an alarming condition. Nothing that I have seen in the Newspapers comes anywhere near portraying the true state of the country. I had no idea of the progress of the insurrectionists, until I saw for myself. In Shelby, Montgomery, Christian and Bond, they are not only organized into regiments, but are armed and equipped and ready at a minute's warning (as they showed in their expedition to Mendota) to take the field. They no longer skulk in out of the way places, and in the night time to drill, but do so openly at mid-day and in the public squares of county seats. I encountered several companies of cavalry myself in the public road, and saw them march through towns. They were armed with sabres, shotguns and revolvers. I therefore speak advisably and reliably. They have only begun drilling publicly within ten days. When I went down they told me in Green county, that there was nothing of its there. On my return ten days after, I saw them drilling within a few yards of the public road, this side of Kane. They were drilling in several other places in that county the same day. From the best information I could retain, I estimate the numbers of this armed mob, in this district, to be not less than eight thousand. They are unquestionably made up of Knights of the Golden Circle, though all the Knights have not yet gone into the military organization, and the members of the latter are bound together by a secret compact, differing from that of the Knights.

The Democratic party do not all belong to the Knights an those who do have kept out of the military. The conservative portion of the party — the men of intelligence, property, and influence, such men, for instance, as Thornton, of Shelby, are strongly against both the Knights and their arming. The strife in some localities is more bitter between those two wings of the party than between Democrats and Republicans, or Union men. These armed bodies are principally made up of men of no character — low reckless devils who have no interest in the welfare of the country. And I am fully convinced that in many cases almost entire companies are composed of runaway scoundrels from Missouri. Every element of the organization is indeed dangerous in the extreme.

The friends of law and order in these counties are not entirely asleep, although they have but lately become fully aware of the condition of things around them. They are forming companies and are arming themselves with such arms as they can pick up They are guarding their towns, and preparing to meet the snake whenever he raises his Copperhead

In this county we have managed thus far to keep these fellows under. In some cases I am well satisfied they have surrendered their charters and abandoned their designs.

I hope to be in Springfield early next week and will confer with you further on this subject. So many of my friends will be going up to-morrow that I thought it best to remain here.