On September 24, 1862 Gideon Welles, Navy Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln, entered a puzzling paragraph in his diary. A “Colonel Key” is mentioned. Key is reported to have said Union army policy was not to destroy the Confederate army, but to “compel the opposing forces to adopt a compromise.”
Gideon Welles was slightly in error, says a footnote in his published diary. It was not “Colonel” Key who had said this, but a Major John J. Key. Major Key suffered consequences for his statement. He was summoned by President Lincoln, “stingingly rebuked, and forthwith discharged from the service.”
The rebuked and dismissed Major John James Key was the brother of Colonel Thomas Marshall Key. Colonel Thomas Key was the “alter-ego” of General George McClellan, according to a talk given by author William Styple at the Library of the Chathams in Chatham, New Jersey.
Styple is the author of “McClellan’s Other Story”, first published in September 2012. The book is described as the biography of Colonel Thomas Marshall Key (1819-1869), Confidential Aide to General McClellan.
The talk given at Chatham by William Styple should be available via the following URL: http://www.c-span.org/History/Events/The-Civil-War-Gen-McClellan-amp-Col-Key/10737436865/
In some of what follows, I am relying on my own hasty notes of Styple’s Chatham talk. I strive to be accurate, but am not a stenographer. Some of the following has not yet been double-checked by me. Paragraphs ending “Notes on Styple” are based on my jottings of Styple’s Chatham talk.
Thomas Key had attended Yale University. There he had been mentored by Alphonso Taft. Alphonso Taft and Thomas Key later became law partners. The name of Alphonso Taft is of course infamous, since he and William Huntington Russell were the co-founders of the Skull & Bones secret society. (Notes on Styple)
In the Key-Taft nexus was also Salmon Chase, Treasury Secretary under Lincoln. Chase had been a good friend of Thomas Key since before the Civil War. (Notes on Styple)
Thomas Key rose from law partner of Alphonso Taft to Ohio state senator and judge. At his home in Cincinnati, Thomas Key became good friends with neighbor George McClellan. (Notes on Styple)
On February 12, 1861 (Lincoln’s birthday anniversary), in Cincinnati, coincident to the presence of one George Sanders, a carpet bag containing a ticking time bomb was placed onboard Lincoln’s special train, carrying him to his first inauguration. Luckily, an alert attendant heard the ticking and informed Lincoln’s security men.
“In February 1861, George Sanders, ‘La Marseillaise’ singer with James Buchanan, Giuseppe Mazzini, Felice Orsini, and others, just happened to be in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sanders was in Cincinnati to contact members of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC), which then had its headquarters in that city.” (Redman, Brian. What Would Millard Do?. 2009. Published by Lulu.com)
Lincoln’s War Secretary Edwin Stanton, admittedly a dubious person himself, had alleged to President Lincoln on April 2, 1862 that George McClellan had in 1860 been initiated as a Knight of the Golden Circle by Jefferson Davis, later president of the Confederacy. (Eisenschiml, Otto. Why Was Lincoln Murdered? 1937)
So we have Thomas Key, alter-ego of George McClellan, connected to the Skull & Bones secret society. We have both McClellan and Key residing in Cincinnati, headquarters of the secret society Knights of the Golden Circle. And we have too the sudden rise to prominence of George McClellan consequent to relatively minor military victories in West Virginia. It was by now Colonel Thomas Key who had via cunning press releases exalted McClellan as the “young Napoleon.” (Notes on Styple)
That’s enough for now. If Fate is kind, I will provide further information on Colonel Key, enigmatic and secretive alter-ego of General McClellan, in future blog entries.