The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 41, October 10, 2021, Article 3


Becky Rush "Talisman" and Rick Lank "The Coiner" of Hagerstown Maryland have published the third book in their planned series on the numismatics of the U.S. Civil War. Here's the announcement. Thanks! -Editor

Sumptuous Southern Stories of Missing Confederate Money

Suptuous Southern Stories book cover Racing against time – and doubling-down on their odds of escaping the pursuing federal cavalry – the Confederate Treasure Train raced south from Richmond until it literally ran out of track and options in a north-eastern Georgia town called Washington. On board this ill-fated train (which ultimately had to resort to becoming an unwieldy wagon train) was money – a strange brew of northern gold coins, Mexican silver coins, slugs of Georgia and Carolinian gold sweepings, and bales of Confederate (CSA) paper currency. There were also barrels of copper coins, probably old US large cents (obsolete, but still valuable).

There was plenty of cunning and internal deal-making, as well as good and bad intentions afoot, as the last days of the Confederacy played out and the money that was left in the CSA Treasury was hurriedly put on board steam trains that dashed south out of Richmond, Virginia when the Queen City fell to Union forces led by U.S. Grant. Wealth of every description was part of the exodus – the remnants of the Confederate Treasury, the gold (and other private treasure) of the principal Richmond banks and unlisted stores of money from wealthy individuals (which no doubt could have included the infamous and influential Knights of the Golden Circle – KGC). Private wealth included in this mix of coins were every denomination from $50 hexagonal gold pieces to older small change, including half-dimes struck in New Orleans.

Official and court records also show that abundant Richmond Bank gold was funneled on board – about 7 million dollars' worth in today's spending power – all intended for Confederate General Robert E Lee's bedraggled Army of Northern Virginia. Controversy existed regarding whether or not the Bank Money was subject to the Union's Confiscation Laws; this issue was debated in federal court for 28 years. All along the route that the money took -- from Danville, VA to Greensboro and Charlotte, NC and through Newberry, Abbeville and Vienna, SC and finally several stops in Georgia – the troubles multiplied (Lincoln was assassinated; Generals Lee and Johnston surrendered, and the Union forces closed in). The money on that beleaguered train– especially gold and silver – became the envy of pardoned Confederate soldiers as well as the Union cavalry.

Sumptuous Southern Stories of Missing Confederate Money is a fine spread of these tales of coins and currency, mishaps and mayhem, and a big dash of adventure that traces the path of the Confederate Treasure Train to its end and beyond. The events took place in April and May of 1865 – and they involve barrels of silver coins possibly being left in a cemetery in Danville, VA plus $50 California gold pieces being heisted near Petersburg, GA and $25,000-plus of British Gold Sovereigns being secretly disbursed near rural Gainesville, FL.

Our earlier book – The Furious Flight of the Confederate Treasure Train – or – Where Did All the Southern Dough Go? -- delved into this story of the very end of the Civil War. This first book examined many of the personalities involved and towns that were traveled through as the steam trains yielded to wagon-trains and traveled through areas along the Savannah River that are now under 30 feet of water.

The authors – Talisman & Coiner – traveled through the South on a Dixie Dive in June of this year – and uncovered yet more stories and lore, which gave rise to Sumptuous Southern Stories... And, more stories are drifting in to us!

Suptuous Southern Stories back cover This sequel picks up on intriguing stories of missing money and maneuvers to escape capture and ransacking, including more insights into the heist of the Richmond Bank trove and honor among thieves as revealed by one of Vaughn's Brigade's former cavalrymen when he was in his 70s. And there is an intriguing investigation into a massive iron strongbox that has been sitting quietly in a Georgia library for a century that was opened with fanfare in 1948 – we'll reveal what was found (or not). And then there is the hand-written Eulogy to the Confederacy that was originally written on the back of a CSA $500 bill in a hotel in Richmond by a paroled soldier who had served under General Johnston & was copied over and over by veterans as a memento to the Lost Cause. (Talisman & Coiner have the good fortune of having seen such a Confederate bill – this time, on a $10 note – thanks to Erick Windsor, avid coin dealer.) And David Hill of the American Numismatic Society (ANS) was kind enough to share a rare Davis Capture Shield – dated May 10th 1865 – and hand-struck on a Mexican Reale.

The book is 8 1/2 by 11 inches and has nine chapters with fewer than 100 pages. It is spiral-bound for easy reading and sharing with friends and family. There are ample color and black-and-white photos and illustrations through-out,

Bulk orders for coin clubs and school groups are available.

Here's the table of contents. -Editor

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One -- Danville and the Silver Cemetery
  • Chapter Two -- Joe Johnston and the 39,000 mementos
  • Chapter Three -- The Randall Hoard Connection (perhaps) & the Georgia Railroad & Banking Co. scrip and legend
  • Chapter Four --- The Clark's Hill Dam and 75,000 acres go Underwater – many spots where the Treasure Train traveled & Treasure was pitched
  • Chapter Five – Where Did All the Dough Go? 5 Stories Oceans of it (gold that is!) and In the Heels of their Boots!
  • Chapter Six – INSIDE JOB? (Or who snagged the Swag?) The Story of the Ones who got away! Told by Judge Shepherd in 1914 (Honor Among Thieves)
  • Chapter Seven – The Mystery of the Confederate Treasure Chest
  • Chapter Eight – The Jefferson Davis Talisman (his 50 cent piece) and the The Shield Flight Medal struck from a Mexican Silver Coin
  • Chapter Nine – Eulogy or Note on a CSA Ten Dollar Bill

For more information, or to order, see:

The authors can be reached by email at . -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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