Forgotten History: Lost Confederate Gold
I want the gold!
I have lived in Georgia all my life but I had never heard of a legend in my home state until I learned about it on the History Channel. On Brad Meltzer's Decoded, Meltzer's history-sleuthing team investigated the legend of lost confederate gold and possible explanations for where it went. There are many theories about what happened to the south's treasure trove and some people are still searching for it today.
In 1902, an old trunk was found in the basement of a bank in Washington, Georgia, the site of the last Confederate Cabinet meeting. In 1928 it was put on display at a library and could not be unlocked until twenty years later when a renowned Atlanta locksmith came to town. Inside the trunk was.......not gold. The locksmith found one Federal nickel. What happened to the Confederate treasure after the Civil War?
In 1865, a few days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered, President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, loaded up what was left of the treasury and fled. It is estimated that there was between $100,000 to $600,00 in gold coins, bars, and bricks, filling five wagons. They only made it as far as the Chennault Plantation before they were attacked by raiders, and the gold disappeared. Union troops came down to the plantation and tortured the family, seeking answers, but the family revealed nothing. One legend has it that the gold was buried on the Chennault Plantation and that gold coins wash up on the dirt roads in heavy rain.
What happened to the gold?
Some people believe the treasury made it to the home of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in Crawfordville, GA. It was rumored that his beloved dog died near the time of the gold disappearance and it was buried underneath the dog's monument.
Another theory is that the gold was buried beneath the floor of the historic Robert Toombs home in Washington, GA.
Still others believe that part of the fortune traveled to the small town of Waynesville. Apparently Sylvester Mumford was present at the last Confederate Cabinet meeting where Jefferson Davis divided the money up among the men at the meeting. Mumford's family invested his share wisely and gave to numerous charitable causes to help people in their hometown in Brantley County.
The strangest explanation is one investigated on Decoded. On the confederate gold episode, the team talked to a man who believes the gold was hidden by the Confederacy so that the south could reform it's military and fight once again. According to him, the treasure was scattered across the southeast and hidden extremely well. There are carvings left on trees that can only be deciphered by a select few. This man's grandfather understood the symbols but never talked about them. When his grandfather died, the man found some papers among his grandfather's belongings that helped him decipher the clues. He has found a few pieces ofgold here and there, but he hasn't recovered enough to prove his theory.
All of these legends are interesting but none have been proven. Maybe someday the lost confederate gold will be found. It is valued at $100,000 in today's money. If you live in Washington, Georgia it could even be in your back yard. Look out for symbols carved into the trees! You never know....
Brad Meltzer's Decoded
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