What Happened to the Lost Confederate Gold at the End of the Civil War?


Quick Answer

At the end of the American Civil War, some of the gold stored in the Confederate treasury was lost, never to surface again. There is some dispute, however, about how much of this gold there actually was, and what may have happened to it.

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Full Answer

When Union forces captured New Orleans, the contents of the Confederate treasury there were transferred to Columbus, Georgia. The Confederate general P.T.G. Beauregard was sent to retrieve it, but the banker who was guarding it refused to hand it over. In his autobiography, Beauregard claimed he did not know what happened to the gold. The main Confederate government in Richmond also had about $700,000 in gold and silver currency, much of which disappeared as Jefferson Davis and the rest of the government retreated south after the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

Many historians believe that some of the currency, in the form of Mexican silver dollars, was buried in Danville, Virginia because it was slowing the retreating party down. There is also evidence to suggest that Union officials inflated the amount of gold and silver Davis was believed to be carrying in order to incentivize Union troops to hunt for the fleeing Davis. Others have theorized that a group of Southern officials and plantation owners buried the gold in hopes that the Confederacy would rise again. It is also possible that a group of deserters stole the gold and disappeared with it.

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