Confederate gold

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Confederate gold refers to hidden caches of gold lost after the American Civil War. Millions of dollars' worth of gold was lost or unaccounted for after the war and has been the speculation of many historians and treasure hunters. Allegedly, some of the Confederate treasury was hidden in order to wait for the rising again of the South and at other times simply so that the Union would not gain possession.

Origin of the legend[edit]

When Union troops were on the verge of invading New Orleans, Confederates quickly removed millions of dollars of gold to a "safer" location, the city of Columbus, Georgia. The gold was temporarily stored at the Iron Bank by William H. Young. On October 11, 1862, General P.G.T. Beauregard was ordered to take the gold from Young's bank in Columbus. Young refused to release it, but was compelled to do so by force. According to Beauregard's biography, "What became of that coin is a mystery."[1]

Treasures[edit]

George Trenholm, who was Treasurer of the Confederate States of America for the last year of the American Civil War, was arrested after the war and accused of making off with millions in Confederate assets.[2]

In fiction[edit]

  • In Gone With The Wind, the Union Army believes Rhett to have the missing Confederate gold, and they threaten to hang him.
  • In the Italian comic book Tex, Confederate gold was placed on board a Confederate river ironclad which ended up in the swamps around the Arkansas River. The gold was later found by members of the Ku Klux Klan who intended to use it to finance a new rebellion in the Southern United States. The ironclad was destroyed in the explosion, along with the gold, by Tex Willer.[3]
  • In the Franco-Belgian comic book series, Blueberry (volumes "Chihuahua Pearl" through "Ballad for a Coffin"), $500.000 in Confederate gold bullion was smuggled to Mexico by group of Confederate soldiers led by Colonel Trevor, the latter acting under orders from Confederate President Jefferson Davis to do so, and who buried the gold in the graveyard of the deserted village of Tacoma, Chihuahua state. The gold was later found by Juaristas who used it to finance their fight against Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Actually, the story premise as related in "Chihuahua Pearl" (plate 8b), i.e. Jefferson Davis fleeing Richmond with the war treasury, escorted by Trevor's cavalry unit, was grounded in fact: Davis did take with him $528.000 in gold and silver bullion (ironically, some of it in Mexican silver coinage) when he fled the city on 3 April 1865 by train – and not by carriage as depicted in the comic. However, the treasury increasingly became an encumbrance on his flight, and Davis had disbursed the treasury along the way, among others to General Joseph E. Johnston in order for him to pay his troops at Greensboro, NC.[4] Like in the comic, Davis had indeed nothing on him when was was eventually captured on May 10 in Irwinville, Georgia – comic writer Jean-Michel Charlier having mixed up his facts by stating it had been "Greensboro, Georgia", but unlike the comic book story, the treasury had never made it to Mexico. Incidentally, the aforementioned George Trenholm accompanied Davis on part of his flight but dropped out prematurely due to ill health, which was taken as circumstantial evidence by his accusers, when making the claim of theft.
  • In the 1966 Spaghetti Western movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the protagonists get information about lost Confederate gold worth 200,000 dollars hidden in a grave at a cemetery.
  • In the 1994 movie Timecop, a single traveler from the future hijacks a shipment of Confederate gold using advanced automatic weapons with laser-sighting. This gold is mentioned later to be used in untraceable payment to terrorists in the 20th century.
  • In the 2005 action movie Sahara, Confederate gold was placed on board the CSS Texas which ended up in Africa. The gold was later found by Dirk Pitt.
  • In the 2012 TV series Alcatraz, Confederate gold was hidden beneath Alcatraz prison by the warden in 1960 to be discovered in 2012.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roman, Alfred (1884). The Military Operations of General Beauregard (Volume 2, Part 1). Harper & Brothers. pp. 23–24. Retrieved 8 September 2013. What became of that coin is, we believe, even to this day, a mystery. It was, doubtless, spent for the benefit of the Confederacy; but how, and to what purpose--not having been regularly appropriated by Congress--has never been made known... 
  2. ^ Nepveux, Ethel S. (1973). George Alfred Trenholm and the Company That Went to War. Charleston. 
  3. ^ Tex Willer - L'oro del sud/Gold of the South
  4. ^ Foote, Shelby (2000). The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Stedman to Reconstruction. Alexandria: Time-Life Books. pp. 74, 236. ISBN 0783501137. 

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