Peter Bertram has some important news - a new example of a coin more rare than the 1804 silver dollar.
A New Davis Flight Medal has surfaced! It's a rare treat when one of these coins appears - doubly so in this instance since it originates from a Confederate Major General and later Governor of Tennessee! As a brief update for readers who may not be familiar with these coins, they are mostly Mexican silver 8 Reales and US Silver Dollars from the Confederate Treasury – and the very few that are known were all subsequently engraved by the soldier that got them.
After General Lee's final defenses around Petersburg had been breached on April 1st, 1865 he advised President Davis that Richmond was no longer defensible and he should depart if he wished to avoid capture. Davis and some Cabinet members left Richmond on April 2nd and the Treasury departed shortly thereafter. I've labeled these engraved coins collectively as the “Davis Flight Medals” because their story is inescapably bound to the flight, pursuit, and capture of President Jefferson Davis.
A total of 11 Davis Flight Medals are presently known (including this specimen). The largest group is 7 (now 8) coins with engraved dates in late April/early May, 1865. When the Confederate Treasury passed through Greensboro, NC about April 9th, 1865, it left behind some $39,000 in silver coin which General Joseph Johnston used to pay his Confederate Army of Tennessee. Each man received about $1.15 and the payout process seemingly took from April 25th to May 1st, 1865. General Brown's coin below is engraved April 30th and would thus have been one of these.
John Calvin Brown (1827-1889) was a successful lawyer from Tennessee who opposed secession. During the 1860 presidential campaign he supported John Bell (Constitution Union party) who was neutral on the slavery issue and also opposed secession. After the bombardment of Ft Sumter in April 1861, however, secessionist sentiment prevailed in Middle Tennessee and Brown turned his support to the Confederacy. He joined the Confederate 3rd Tennessee Infantry as a private on May 1st, 1861, and some two weeks later he was elected Colonel of the regiment. He led them during the battle and surrender of Fort Donelson and was held as a prisoner of war until exchanged in August of 1862.
When he returned he was promoted to Brigadier General on August 30, 1862 and fought in General B. Bragg's 1862 through 1863 campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee. Brown fought at Perryville (wounded), and Chickamauga, and his men were in the defensive line at Missionary Ridge.
In August, 1864, Brown was promoted to Major General and fought in the Atlanta Campaign commanding a division in General B. Cheatham's Corps. During General JB Hood's 1864 Tennessee campaign, Brown was severely wounded in November at the Battle of Franklin, where six of his fellow generals were killed. He was incapacitated for several months and was unable to rejoin the army until the end of the Carolinas Campaign in April 1865. General Brown surrendered with General JE Johnston's Confederate Army of Tennessee and was paroled a month later.
After the war, General JC Brown returned to Pulaski, Tennessee and resumed his law practice. In 1870 he served on the state constitutional convention tasked with overhauling the 1834 constitution to meet post-Civil War demands. The following year he ran for and was elected Governor of Tennessee and served from 1871 to 1875. In 1889 he became president of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, at the time one of the largest industrial firms in the South. He fell ill that summer and died on August 17, 1889. General Brown's body was returned to Pulaski for internment.
The other ten Davis Flight Medals and their stories are shown in Peter's book Confederate Numismatica – Part 1
. For more information, see:
The Brown coin was brought to my attention by its owner, Mr. Craig Bowen. He had purchased a copy of my Confederate Numismatica book and sent me an email that he had a Davis Flight Medal! Imagine my excitement as I asked how we could get together, and would he permit me to photograph it and publish it? Long story short, we met up at the Dalton, GA show where I photographed the coin. I gathered that Mr Bowen had had the piece for a good while but I wasn't able to determine how he came to acquire it.
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
QUERY: ENGRAVED CONFEDERATE CAMP MARION COIN INFO SOUGHT
MORE ON ENGRAVED CONFEDERATE DAVIS FLIGHT MEDALS
ALAN WEINBERG ON DAVIS FLIGHT MEDALS
PETER BERTRAM ON DAVIS FLIGHT MEDALS
MORE ON KENT WHITING'S DAVIS FLIGHT MEDAL
THE LAST DAYS OF THE CONFEDERATE TREASURY
Wayne Homren, Editor
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