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 its possible location has been the source of 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 of it.

Origin of the legend

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.[1] 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."[2]

Halleck's allegations

Amid the collapse of the Confederacy, General Henry Halleck, Chief of Staff of the Union armies, wrote on April 26, 1865, that Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was fleeing with large quantities of specie. Halleck stated that Richmond, Virginia bankers estimated specie valued "from six to thirteen millions" were traveling south from Goldsboro, North Carolina in wagons. Halleck ordered Generals Wilson and Canby to intercept the rebel leaders and any wealth they were transporting.[3][4]

Davis did in effect take what was left of the stable value[5] Confederate treasury with him, which consisted of $528,000 (equal to $10,093,983 today) in gold and silver bullion (some of it in Mexican silver coinage), when he and his cabinet fled Richmond on April 3, 1865 by train. 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, North Carolina, and to several banks for safekeeping, with the remainder paid out to Joseph Wheeler's accompanying cavalry men before dismissing them from their duties. Davis had nothing on him when he was captured in the end on May 10 in Irwinville, Georgia.[6]

Trenholm's embezzlement

George Trenholm, who was Confederate States Secretary of the Treasury for the last year of the Civil War, was arrested after the war and accused of making off with millions in Confederate assets.[7] Trenholm had accompanied Davis on part of his flight but dropped out prematurely due to ill health, which was taken as circumstantial evidence by his Union accusers, when they later accused Trenholm of theft.[8]

In fiction

See also


  1. ^ Davis, Robert Scott (2002). "The Georgia Odyssey of the Confederate Gold". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 86 (4). Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  2. ^ 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...
  3. ^ "OUR ARMIES.; Official from Secretary Stanton. Beauregard Trying to Profit by Sherman's Blunder. Meade, Sheridan, Wright, Thomas and Canby Ordered to Push the Enemy at all Points. Jeff. Davis and His Gold. [OFFICIAL.]". The New York Times. 1865-04-28. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  4. ^ "The Armies and Their Work. (Published 1865)". The New York Times. 1865-04-28. Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  5. ^ Confederate paper currency was all but completely worthless at this stage of the war.
  6. ^ Foote, Shelby (2000). The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Stedman to Reconstruction. Alexandria: Time-Life Books. pp. 74, 236. ISBN 0783501137.
  7. ^ Nepveux, Ethel S. (1973). George Alfred Trenholm and the Company That Went to War. Charleston.
  8. ^ Foote, Shelby (2000). The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Stedman to Reconstruction. Alexandria: Time-Life Books. pp. 74, 234. ISBN 0783501137.
  9. ^ Tex Willer - L'oro del sud/Gold of the South Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine