Becky Rush "Talisman" and Rick Lank "The Coiner" of Hagerstown Maryland have published the first book in their planned series on the numismatics of the U.S. Civil War. Here's the announcement. Thanks!
The Money, Mayhem & Might Saga Series
"The Furious Flight of the Confederate Treasure Train
(or Where Did All the Southern Dough Go?)"
Originally there was going to be just one book – "Money, Mayhem &
Might" – but we wanted to tell a compelling set of stories that would attract
folks who may have only a mild interest in coins and maybe a blush of
curiosity about the Civil War... so we also added deeper dives into alluring
tales of treasure, introduced a few metal detectorists' stories and sought to
become more familiar with some of the people who financed the "sinews of
war." And, of course, we constantly wanted to allude to the fact that the Civil War and its era fundamentally changed U.S. coins, currency and banking.
With the pandemic tamping down other activities (and many coin shows), we
spent more time fleshing out certain tales – and the "Confederate Treasure"
story (which originally was going to be one chapter in the original book) was
so intriguing that we spun it out of the constraints of the single chapter we
planned – and, lo-and-behold, it became a 200-page book in-and-of itself.
The first book is 8 1/2 x 11 inches and as of right
now, it is spiral-bound. We think this may make the book easy to read and share with a group or family. It is set in 14 point type, so it is easy-to-read, and it is loaded with photos and illustrations. It is intended to be a "good read" for young-and-older readers alike!
As a numismatist, you will discover many references to coins that were either in general circulation and/or were in bank vaults in the South and which were hauled onto escaping trains from Richmond in April of 1865. You will find obscure references to things such as "silver and gold slugs" purportedly in the Confederate Treasury that were thought to be from "sweepings" from the Dahlonega, GA and Charlotte, NC mints (which were "taken in trust" by the Confederacy in 1861).
We even get into the logistics of moving so much gold coin ("hard specie") around – down to the details of the Confederates making money-belts for members of the Cabinet – fleeing into exile-who would need "some coin" when they "reach foreign soil..." And just how heavy those belts would be – let alone the weight of $450,000 in gold coin and bullion that was thought to be aboard the wagon trains headed towards Washington City, Georgia. (At some point, gold becomes ballast – dead weight that slows down old wagons and carts…)
Money and Railroads in the South
We also tackle just how intertwined transportation and banking was back in the day – for example, the Central Georgia Railroad and Banking Company (later called simply "The Georgia") was into hauling about munitions, money and giving free rides to discharged southern soldiers when Johnston surrendered and Davis was arrested. Other short-haul railroads played vital roles in this story – and many produced handsome yet utilitarian banknotes/boarding passes/scrip during the War and long afterwards.
The Georgia – based in Augusta, GA – was a powerhouse in the Southeast until
just a few decades ago – it ultimately got gobbled up by Wells Fargo and is now gone.
Southern Paper Money becomes Worthless – Gold and Silver Coin is at a
Premium – and Bushwhackers go after Richmond Gold
And then there is the drama of the train (or trains) rolling south while the
Confederacy literally collapses around them – and the $600 million in Confederate paper money and CSA bonds become totally worthless by the time that the "Treasure Train" gets to the "end of the line" in Georgia in early May. By then, the Train is being hounded by Northern Cavalry in hot pursuit AND by Southern discharged soldiers because the gold and silver on board is now valued at a premium. And the Southern ex-soldiers desperately need cash just to get home…
And to wrap it all up – following the gold money from Richmond as it made its
way first to Georgia and then its being robbed by bushwhackers (and purloined
here-and-there) – a sizable portion ended up in the US Treasury in Washington, D.C. A celebrated legal battle over its custody was brought before the Court of War Claims (US House of Representatives) by a Richmond firm called Isaacs & Company, representing three depository banks (for the State of Virginia) – all of which had failed shortly after the War ended.
This legal battle for custody went on for an incredible 27 years after the Petition was first filed in 1866. (Several principal witnesses passed away during that period.) In the end, the federal government kept the majority of the dough (about $80,000 in gold coin) – thus ending what could have been the longest (and last) battle of the US Civil War.
"The Furious Flight of the Confederate Treasure Train..."
A brew of forensic accounting, riveting accounts of money on the move, shell
games to keep the Federals guessing where the money was going, titillating stories of gold coin troves being left behind near the Savannah River – at a town called Vienna, South Carolina, which has been submerged under 30 feet of water since a dam was built downstream in 1954… and much, much more…
We will be sending the book out in the domestic US via flat-rate Priority Mail – the price (for a limited time) will be $50 ($40 for the book and $10 for shipping and handling).
Special orders (bulk) and overseas will be negotiated individually.
Money, Mayhem & Might – Now slated to be a Two-Volume Book
There are still two more books in the works – and plans for other "sagas"
and possibly video treatments in the future.
The softcovered 192-page spiralbound book is the first press run. Future printings may incorporate small editorial changes or be offered in different binding types. Images are in both color and greyscale. There are no footnotes or endnotes, but there are a couple pages listing resources and further reading.
For more information, or to order, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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