The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 48, November 23, 2014, Article 10


Harold Levi copied us on a note to Peter Bertram:

I enjoyed your response on the Davis Flight Medals in last week's installment of The E-Sylum. Alan V. Weinberg made a response on Kent Whiting's piece also. He said something that bothers me. His last sentence is, "The Union paid off the surrendering Confederate rag tag soldiers from this treasury." In all of my reading and research I have never seen any reference to the Union paying Confederate soldiers. Have you seen anything? Besides, the Union did not have the Confederate Treasury at the end of the war. They spent years afterward looking for the Confederate Treasury.

It is well documented that the Confederate Treasury had a large quantity of Mexican specie. The following if from my book, The Lovett Cent; a Confederate Story. "In the Western states, cotton and tobacco were shipped through Mexico, and the sellers received Mexican specie in payment. Capt. Carter, (Carter House, Franklin, Tenn.) writing as a war correspondent under the name of Mint Julep for the Chattanooga Daily Rebel, describes the cotton trade along the Texas/Mexico border in February of 1863."

Here's Peter Bertram's response. -Editor

Mr. Alan Weinberg has the most impressive collection of Confederate engraved coins I have ever encountered and I’m quite honored that he has very generously given permission for me to show them in my book in progress. For these notes, however, I’d like to respond to his comments on Kent Whitings’s Davis Flight Medal shown in last week’s issue.

Alan is correct that Mexican silver 8 reales coins made up the lion’s share of the Confederate Treasury’s silver coins, but they were not the Treasury’s only money. To be a bit more precise, before the Treasury train left Richmond on April 2nd, Treasury clerk Mann S. Quarles put together a quick description of the containers. Most of the hard money was packed in wooden kegs and consisted of Mexican silver dollars (8 reales coins) with some US silver dollars mixed in. But there were also gold coins, specifically boxes of US double eagles packed five $5000 sacks per box, and two boxes of English gold sovereigns worth about $35,000.

Additionally there were silver bricks and gold ingots and nuggets packed in chests and barrels as well as a chest of jewels donated by Southern women to the Cause. Unfortunately, Quarles did not inventory the amounts so everything was casually estimated at about $500,000. In light of unrecorded payout amounts and the inventory of April 7th, however, I believe the total was probably more like about $375,000.

Not included in the total were millions in Confederate banknotes and bonds and about £18,000 sterling in Liverpool Acceptances (only negotiable in England). It required eight wagonloads to get everything from the Confederate Treasury offices to Richmond’s train station. Also, to prevent being robbed by federal looters, the private deposits of the Richmond banks were loaded on the same train but kept separate from the Treasury funds.

The Treasury Train departed Richmond on April 2nd and arrived at Danville early the next morning and began redeeming Confederacy currency for silver coin at the rate of 70 to 1. They also paid out “unknown amounts” for informal requisitions. On April 7th the Treasury left and moved by rail through Greensboro to Charlotte, NC. While en route, Capt. Micajah H. Clark, formerly the executive office chief clerk, placed the first precise value on the treasury at $327,022 (excluding the currency and the Acceptances).

1861 8Reales Gen Johnston obverse As the train passed through Greensboro, Parker left $38,000 in silver coin and the two boxes of gold sovereigns for the use of President Davis and the cabinet. The gold sovereigns were sent on to Davis in Charlotte, but General Johnston appropriated the silver coin to pay his army (see my remarks, last issue).

Mr. Weinberg closes by noting “The Union paid off the surrendering Confederate rag tag soldiers from this treasury.” I would respectfully request that Mr. Weinberg kindly share his source for this statement.

I’ve noted how General Johnston took charge of the $38,000 left in Greenville and ordered it paid out to his troops. The $35,000 in gold sovereigns remained intact until the very end (May 19th). When the Treasury train left Greensboro it still had about $254,000 (excluding the currency and the Acceptances) and the Virginia bank funds. All this remained pretty much intact until May 4th when some $108,000 in silver coin was paid out to escorting troops, Clark broke up the balance to prevent its seizure by Union looters, and the bank funds were deposited in a bank vault in Washington, GA. The point is that at no point did Union forces have control over any of the Confederate Treasury, much less pay surrendering Confederate troops with it!

-Ballard, Michael B.: A Long Shadow: University Press of Mississippi: Jackson, MS
-Clark, Capt M.H.: The last days of the Confederate treasury and what became of its specie: Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 9, 542.
-Davis, Burke: The Long Surrender: Random House, New York:1985
-Dunkerly, Robert M.; The Confederate Surrender at Greensboro; McFarland & Company, Publishers; Jefferson, North Carolina; 2013

Thanks, everyone. Fascinating story. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster