I thought I'd share with you all some excerpts from a typescript from the collection of the Chattanooga History Center. Written by E. G. Carroll, a Rossville, Georgia attorney between 1920 and 1930, this record of extra-legal violence provides a fascinating insight into the postwar environment of Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee and the ongoing act of memory making that made Klansmen and White Caps into heroes who upheld morality, racial order, and law.
"This is a true story of the activites of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Caps in North Georgia, and teh incident that led to the destruction of the White Caps. I have gotten my information in regard to the Ku Klux Klan from men who belonged to the organization and women who lived through those terrible Carpetbag days. Most of the information that I have gathered in regard to the White Caps was given to me by the late Steve Shackleford of Gordon County Georgia, who lived in a community where most of the men belonged to the organization.
I find that most people think that the Ku Klux Klan and the White Caps were the same organization but they were not. The Ku Klux Klan was a secret organization that operated in the South during the Carpetbag days immediately after the Civil War. The White Caps were the outgrowth from the original Ku Klux Klan and operated in North Georgia until sometime in the nineties. They wore the same disguise and probably started out under the same laws and regulations as the Ku Klux Klan, but they were not the same organization."
..... "Of course we have no written records of what happened in those days, this is the Klan kept no records of what they did. I have gathered what little information I have of Klansmen and conditions in those days, from talking with men and women who were there. Those old Klansmn were very stingy with their information. My father T. B. Carroll of Marion County, Tennessee, was a Confederate soldier and a Klansman, but he would tell me very little about the organization. He did tell me about some of the things Uncle Bill Smith did over in Marion County. I don't suppose there is anyon in Marion County Tennessee, who remembers one arm Bill Smith. Uncle Bill and his company used to come over and do the hanging for the Chattanooga Boys. They hung some carpetbaggers down on the river one night to the beams of an old building. There was no chance to charge that hanging to the Chattanooga Boys, for they made it convenient to be seen on the streets at the time of the hanging. It seem[ed] to be a rule of the Klan to never make a raid in their own community."
Copyright, Chattanooga History Center, 2008