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Offline SueTopic starter
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« on: April 24, 2009, 01:27:28 pm »
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Thieves raided two wagon trains filled with gold at the Chennault Crossroads May 24, 1865. One train held what was left of the Confederate Treasury coffers; the other money from Virginia banks. It was being transported to Savannah for passage on a ship to France as a loan payback from the Confederacy. It never happened. Worth about $100,000 when it disappeared, the gold would fetch about $1 million today.

The gold disappeared about 100 yards from the Chennault House porch. Some believe the treasure was buried at the confluence of the Apalachee and Oconee rivers. Rumors persist that gold coins wash up during heavy rains in the vicinity.


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Offline chansawea
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 01:56:58 pm »
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Nice story - thanks Smiley

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Offline SueTopic starter
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2009, 12:54:53 pm »
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Heres a follow up story by the same writer as above.

"Across The Savannah
The Lost Confederate Gold

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Its a 144-year-old mystery thats never been solved ... or has it? The lost Confederate gold. You could say the Civil War ended in Lincoln County. You can't wage war without a war chest, and the war chest vanished here. Of course the war was over April 9, 1865, at Appomattox. The handwriting was on the wall and Confederate President Jefferson Davis left Danville, Virginia, April 6, 1865, with a treasure train headed for Lincoln and Wilkes County. Or did he? Some accounts claim Davis did not accompany the train.

I touched on this mystery April 23 in the Journal, but the matter deserves its own column. I've researched the topic, not exhaustively as a scholar, but thorough enough as a journalist to find various accounts of the mystery and one word sums it up, "unsettled."

Worth roughly $100,000 when it vanished, the assorted treasures would be worth about $1 million today. Near Charlotte, the treasure was placed into containers that had once held sugar, coffee, flour, and ammunition, so they say.

We know this much. The night of May 24, 1865, at the Chennault Place, marauders raided two wagon trains, one with the last of the Confederate treasury, the other money from Virginia banks. The treasures included $327,022 in gold and silver coins, as well as bullion, donated jewelry, and floor sweepings from the Dahlonega mint. The train started out with 39 kegs of Mexican silver dollars, but historians speculate the silver dollars never made the trip. The coins 9,000- pound weight was too much for the wagons. Evidence suggests the coins are buried in a cemetery owned by the city of Danville.

Conjecture, for certain, surrounds the mystery. Every source I review puts a different twist on the story. Heres a quick look at a few theories about the lost treasure's fate.

The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable states that Wilkes County residents who witnessed the event said "bushwhackers waded kneedeep in gold and silver coinage before loading it in all kinds of bags and sacks and riding away. It was said that many riders were so overloaded they later discarded or hid large quantities of the coins all over Wilkes County."

Some say the gold was divided among locals. One theory holds that the gold was hastily buried on the grounds of the Chennault Plantation. A website on Washington, Georgias history states that "Down through the years, many gold coins have been found along the dirt roads near the plantation following a heavy rain storm."

Another theory suggests the gold is hidden in Crawfordville, at the home of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. Stephens pet dog supposedly died about the time the gold disappeared. Some think the gold could be hidden beneath the dogs monument.

One theory says that the treasure was buried at the confluence of the Apalachee and Oconee rivers. Yet another theory involves the Robert Toombs home in Washington. The story goes that the basement had a dirt floor that seemed to give when you walked over it.

Some believe part of the Confederate treasure ended up in Waynesville, down in Brantley County, based upon the writings of two residents: Robert Latimer Hurst, who wrote about the legend of the Confederate gold in This Magic Wilderness, and Martha Mizell Puckett, who wrote Snow White Sands. "The Mumford legend" is quite a story, one too lengthy to detail here.

What amazes me most is that I have no memory of my history teachers discussing the lost gold and the fact that it vanished in Lincoln County! Could be my memory is bad but I don't think so. The story has it all, intrigue, mystery, wealth, and torture.

Union troops came to the Chennault Plantation to find the gold. They tortured the Chennaults to force them to reveal where the gold was hidden. They got nothing. The Chennault family was taken to Washington, D.C., to undergo intensive interrogation. The Chennaults did not shed new light on the gold and were released a few weeks later to return to Georgia.

Did the gold simply get spent? New Georgia Encyclopedia says this. "Almost all of the Confederate assets were dispersed, to pay soldiers returning home, before the capture of Davis on May 10, 1865, near Irwinville. The remaining funds from Richmond banks were left in Washington, Georgia. A detachment of Union soldiers set out to divert this specie to a railhead in South Carolina. On May 24, 1865, in Lincoln County, Georgia, bandits attacked the wagons, which had stopped for the night at the Chennault Plantation. Of the cache, $251,029 was lost.

New Georgia Encyclopedia goes on to state that bank officials eventually recovered $111,000 of the stolen money. Union General Ulysses S. Grant, by the way, removed Union General Edward A. Wild from his command for torturing the Chennault family.

New Georgia Encyclopedia continues, saying the "federal government seized the recaptured gold, and litigation over its ownership continued until June 22, 1893, when the U.S. Court of Claims decreed that the claimants on behalf of the by-thendefunct Richmond banks receive $16,987. This amount represented the proportion of the recovered money equal to that of the funds the banks never loaned to Virginia for the Confederate government but that had also traveled to Georgia in April 1865. The other $78,276 remained the property of the United States."

So, does that resolve the mystery? Probably not.

Legend persists that the treasure is buried on the grounds of Chennault Plantation and remains there today. If gold coins have washed up along the dirt roads near the plantation following heavy rains, youd think someone like a modern-day Mel Fisher or Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. would search for the lost treasure. How could they not."

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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2009, 07:32:20 pm »
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Less than 20 years after the robbery at Chennault Crossroads $20,000 in silver coins were found buried on the adjoining grounds of the John Chennault property according to the New York Times Archives. I will post a copy if requested. Also, about 9 miles above Washington, Georgia which would place you in the vicinty of Sandtown, after  a strong hurricane blew through a man by the name of John Frank found over $20,000 in treasure among which was a peck of gold coins and about a bushel of jewels which many say were the donated jewelry left with Mrs. Susan Moss near Chennault Crossroads.

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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2009, 08:02:34 pm »
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Hi Thomas, Peck of gold coins & bushel of jewels revealed by a hurricane Shocked Wow! Plus the silver coins - sure, I'd like you to post a copy from the archives, if you don't mind. It would be great to have some more information added to the thread. Thanks and welcome to the forum. Sue

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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2009, 05:35:44 pm »
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I am sorry it took me so long to get back to this thread. I have been searching for the copies, I finally found them. Here they are, thanks for asking.

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Chennault $20,000 Silver.jpg
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2009, 08:46:11 pm »
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Thanks for the clippings. So, in a hole left by the blown down tree, he found the treasure. Interesting that she'd handed over the jewelry box to the wrong person after being so careful with it. That's a neat Confederate story. Again, thanks for sharing. Sue

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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2009, 06:01:33 pm »
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There is a lot more to the story than is told in the newspaper. Susan Moss was very sick at the time Major General John Breckenridge left the jewelry with her sister Mary House. Susan's maiden name was "House." Later Mary House married Drury Lane one of the Delhi Rangers. So, Mary House Lane later in life left her story behind of the jewelry and her giving it to a Captain Seddon. I always wondered if that was the same Seddon that was in the CSA Cabinet. Anyway he must have buried it beside the road under a hollow tree and either forgot about it or was later killed or died by other means. This same jewelry did show up in the courtroom at the trial of the Chennaults, how exactly it got where it did is a real puzzle. A colonel was in charge of the jewelry at the trial and let the Chennault wifes find their personal jewelry among the rest. Sorry, I can't think of the colonel's name but I did know it. I could look at a map of Cherokee, S.C. and remember his name there is a town there by the same name.

Also, you do realize that $20,000 in silver would have weighed at least 1,250 pounds. So I don't believe riders or robbers of the Virginia Bank Gold carried this much silver off --- it had to have been hidden by the CSA Cabinet Members.

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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2009, 07:08:46 pm »
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Hi Thomas, I always ponder the weight of large caches in those tales. That was an interesting 'rest of the story' that you posted. I wondered what became of the jewelry after it was found. Surely the guy who hid it, died, as I think it would be hard to forget. But, in a moment of panic and haste, I guess I can see how the hidey hole could be lost to the one who buried it. An x on the tree would have given it away, but I'd have x'd (in some manner) a nearby one at least. Sue

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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 07:20:35 pm »
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I contacted descendents of John Frank that still live in the Washington, Georgia area but so far none of them have found anything relative to the story. I have been to the John Chennault house on two occasions and the new owners told me that not a single dollar had been found at or near the robbery site which was just a hundred feet from the southwest corner of their front porch. I later found the story about the $20,000 that was found on the property. There was also a rather large bag of gold found by one of the free slaves of John Chennault the followering Spring of 1866. The blackman's name was Eli White. The surrounding white boys heard of Eli's discovery, they captured him and carried him into the woods; built a large campfire and burned the bottoms of Eli's feet until he broke down and told them the location of his gold. Poor Eli didn't get to keep it very long. He found the bag of gold at a corner post while he was making a turn with a plow early that Spring.

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