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."Linkback:
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