State Treasure - Georgia

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 39 of the June, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Incident at Chennault
LINCOLN COUNTY – Confederate President Jefferson Davis was in church on the morning of April 2, 1865, when he was informed that Union forces had broken through the Confederate line at Petersburg, Virginia. Seven days later, on April 9th, Lee surrendered to Grant ending America’s bloody Civil War. This marked the beginning of Georgia’s most enduring and best-known unsolved mysteries.
What happened to the Confederate treasury and a shipment of approximately $100,000 in gold destined for France is a mystery. This event has become so inundated with tall tales, fictional accounts, folklore, and myth as to forever shroud the truth. What isn’t in dispute is that, after Richmond fell to Union forces, the bulk of the Confederate treasury was transported to Georgia, where much of it vanished without a trace.
According to historic accounts on April 6, 1865, Davis fled Danville, Virginia, with a Confederate treasure train of five wagons that were transporting the Confederate treasury to Lincoln and Wilkes Counties, Georgia. The value of the treasure was $777,022. Of that amount, $450,000 was in coin and specie checks from Richmond banks. The remaining $327,022 consisted of gold and silver coins, bullion, donated jewelry, and the floor sweepings from the Dahlonega mint.
Another 39 kegs of Mexican silver dollars weighing 9,000 pounds was also part of the treasury, but evidence indicates the kegs never left Danville and were buried in a cemetery. Of the gold loaded onto the treasure train, Davis reportedly arranged for $100,000 of it to be separated and taken to Savannah, where it was to be loaded onto a ship destined for France as re-payment on a loan.
But on May 24, 1865, the train stopped and set up camp at the Chennault Crossroads. The land where they camped, and the neighboring Chennault Plantation, was owned by Dionysius Chennault, an elderly planter and Methodist minister. That night a group of gunmen robbed the treasure train within 100 yards of the Chennault home. The loss was reported to be $251,029.
Historic documents indicate bank officials eventually recovered $111,000 of the treasure. The federal government recovered another $95,263, which remained in litigation until June 22, 1893. The U.S. Court of Claims decreed that the claimants on behalf of the defunct Richmond banks would receive $16, 987. The remaining $78,276 remained the property of the government. The balance of $44,766 in gold has never been recovered.
If found today, the gold would be worth about $2,652,030. And what of the 9,000 pounds of Mexican silver? As far as anyone knows it remains buried in the Danville Cemetery and officials have refused excavation.

Sherman’s March to the Sea
CENTRAL GEORGIA – The Savannah Campaign, under the command of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, began on November 15, 1864, from the captured city of Atlanta. Sherman’s forces numbered 62,000 men: 55,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 2,000 artillerymen manning 64 guns. For the march Sherman divided his forces into two columns.
Following the fall of Atlanta, the Confederate War Department brought additional troops and militia into Georgia from the Carolinas and Florida. But Confederate forces in Georgia never exceeded 13,000. Military historians have studied Sherman’s Savannah Campaign; one wrote that Sherman “defied military principals by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communications. He destroyed much of the South’s potential and psychology to wage war.”
Sherman had vowed to “make Georgia stand up and howl” and he did just that. Departing Atlanta on November 15, 1864, Sherman split his forces into two columns. Simultaneously, the upper column, under the command of Mjr. Gen. Henry W. Slocum, moved east towards Augusta while the lower column, under the command of Mjr. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, marched southeast towards Macon. Both columns included pontoon trains and engineer units, but provision wagons were left behind. Sherman had ordered his men to live off the land. The first leg of Sherman’s march deceived the Confederates as to his true objective, which was Savannah.
On November 22-23, both columns converged on the state capitol of Milledgeville, which fell quickly, as Confederate forces had been diverted to Macon and Augusta. The nearest sizeable force to oppose Sherman was the 18,000-man garrison at Savannah. Between Milledgeville and Savannah, Confederate forces numbered 3,000 militia and some cavalry troops too few in number to matter.
The railroads, supply depots, government buildings and military utility at Milledgeville lay in ruins as the second leg of Sherman’s campaign got underway. Again the columns separated when leaving the capitol. Sherman’s troops would rip up over 200 miles of railroad track while looting and burning everything in their path, at times up to 50 miles wide as they marched towards Savannah.
After marching nearly 300 miles in 26 days, on December 10th Sherman’s armies reached the outskirts of Savannah. His men had fought in many skirmishes and a few battles along the way, but the Confederacy was so greatly outnumbered they could do little more then harass the Union troops.
The Savannah garrison was under the command of Confederate Lt. Gen. William T. Hardee. Ten thousand of his men were entrenched to defend the city and port. Hardee’s other men had flooded the surrounding rice fields, cutting off most access routes into the city.
Sherman’s plan involved him linking up to the U.S. Navy to obtain heavy ordinance and supplies for taking Savannah. But the Confederates controlled the Ogeechee River at Fort McAllister and Sherman found himself cut off from the ships awaiting him.
Sherman dispatched the Hazen division of Howard’s army to seize Fort McAllister December 13th. In the Battle of Fort McAllister, Sherman’s forces took the fort within 15 minutes. With the U.S. Navy now connecting to Sherman, everything was in place for the fight to seize Savannah. On December 17th, Sherman sent a message to Hardee demanding his surrender.
But on December 20th, Hardee led his men across the Savannah River on a pontoon bridge made of rice flats and escaped. The next morning, Savannah’s mayor, R.D. Arnold, surrendered and Sherman’s troops occupied the city and port, thereby ending Sherman’s campaign.
Sherman’s Savannah Campaign caused $100 million in damages to the state of Georgia, mostly because Sherman employed scorched earth tactics. His troops killed livestock, burned crops, homes, businesses, plantations, and mills. They destroyed civilian and military infrastructure and everything from Atlanta to the Atlantic lay in ruins.
During the Civil War, the civilian population had become adept at hiding its valuables. And it was the civilian population of Georgia that endured the brunt of Sherman’s wrath. The result was a proliferation of caches being buried along the route of Sherman’s march. These treasures include mom and pop caches of money and personal belongings, to large caches of wealth - gold and silver specie, family heirlooms, silverware and jewelry - buried by wealthy land and business owners.
Of course, their owners recovered many of these caches after the threat had passed. Others became lost when the person who buried them was either captured or killed. Landmarks became obliterated by fire or other causes, and the owner many times could not relocate hastily buried caches later.
Researching Sherman’s march through Georgia will improve your chances to recover one or more of these caches. Reading diaries and journals of Georgia residents who were in the path of this campaign may also help provide new leads.

Sources:
Washington, Georgia – Lost Confederate Gold, http://www.kudc
om.com/www/gold.html
HistoryCentral.com, Lee’s Surrender, http://www.historycentral
.com/CivilWar/Surrender.html
Davis, Jr., Robert Scott, "Confederate Gold," August 7, 2007, New Georgia Encyclopedia, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3231
MyCivilWar.com, Sherman’s Savannah Campaign, http://www.mycivilwar.com/campaigns/641101.htm
Wikipedia research: Sherman’s March to the Sea, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman%27s_March_to_the_Sea
Treasure Trove Dreams, Lost Treasure Myths, legends, and Leads
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Comments

Juliei's picture

lost confederate gold

do any maps exist with locations that are suspected paths they may have taken?  If so, where can I look them up.  I have about 200 acreas in Lincolnton and would like to hunt this property.

Treasure Hunter's picture

georgia treasures

I too would like to trace time back , but in this day and age , most of the land is private and from a small group of guys who treaspast with out asking is why we cant have a hand in our past time hobby , and i will tell them what i think of their club here in savannah ga. as low and dumb, and passing for land surveyers  and hunting at night with flash lights , right , preseve for their own use should be their slogan look them up their in richmond hill at shonys every month  ,,, dont tell them that you know of a place to go they will be there that night with or with out you and no one will say a word,, back stabers they are  

texan's picture

Are u sure?

Glad to hear of this! Maybe there is still more stuff out there, we will be able to locate. Thanks for info. Tommy  Thomaston, GA.

Treasure Hunter's picture

Confederate treasury

I, as one of a few know that the confederate treasury was recovered at an Augusta site early in summer of 1982.  The treasure is long gone. About half of the  persons involved are decreased from natural causes.

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