Confederate Gold: The Myth And The Historical Evidence


Confederate Gold: The Myth And The Historical Evidence


by Michael Bernzweig

Where is the Confederate gold?

The mystery of the confederate gold that vanished somewhere near Lake Michigan is something that keeps treasure hunters up at night. What happened to the gold bullion supposedly secreted away by the Confederacy before its defeat? Did it survive to be used to back the Confederate government's printing of new currency? Or did it just disappear? The fate of the gold is a subject of much mystery and conspiracy theories. It is known that Confederate Gulch is one of Montana's best gold prospecting areas. Previously confederate soldiers discovered gold in the gulch in 1864. It is also known that the Confederacy effort in New Mexico was desperately short of raw materials for war production. Those materials had to be imported by a Union Soldier from the Southern United States or from abroad and often paid for in gold. It is said that Emperor Maximilian loaded 15 ox-drawn wagons with $10 million worth of gold bars, silver, jewelry, and other valuable items into 15 wagons pulled by oxen.

The Story of the Mysterious Lake Michigan Confederate Gold

A deathbed confession has led to one of the most fueled treasure hunts of all time. The most popular story of the Lake Michigan gold is that Confederate president Jefferson Davis was running from Union soldiers after the end of the Civil War. 

In early April 1865, Jefferson Davis was attending church when he learned of the breach in Lee's defensive line in Petersburg, Virginia and the threat of the fall of Richmond. Davis' cabinet was notified immediately that Richmond was to be evacuated, as well as the Confederate Treasury.

Davis fled Richmond, Virginia, in 1865 and was running with all of the treasure and money he could hold, as he knew after the war, he’d need enough to sustain himself in hiding. He was caught by the soldiers eventually, and what happened to the gold after that is under much speculation. After Richmond, Virginia, was captured by Union troops at the end of the Civil War, the majority of the Confederate treasury was taken to Georgia, where much of it was lost.

Was the confederate gold really stolen?

It is rumored that Bank of Tennessee and its Augusta, Georgia branches also had assets seized worth more than half a million dollars. As the Civil War drew to a close, Jefferson Davis carried Georgia's most famous Civil War treasure by wagon.  Gold mining, minting of coins, and trading were major industries in the state, thus inspiring these legends. 

Davis was told by General Lee he had until early evening to load the gold, valuables, and cabinet members onto two trains. On the last line between Richmond and Danville, Virginia, two trains were scheduled to depart with the men and treasury. Confederate officials would be transported aboard the first train, and the gold would be transported aboard the second train.

Many have said that Robert Horatio George Minty, a Brigadier General in the Civil War, was working as a railroad attendant after the Civil War and was in charge of shipping the treasure to Michigan for the Union soldiers. It is said that he took some to have a necklace made for his wife, and the rest was sent on a ferry. The crew of the ferry would later have to push it off of the boat during a storm, causing the boxcar holding millions of dollars worth of treasure to go to the bottom of the lake. 

Conflicting Information About the Confederate Gold

One story states that George Alexander Abbot, a banker, was on the brink of death in 1921 when he admitted to his family that he stole Confederate gold. He claimed to have hidden it in a boxcar being shipped on Lake Michigan. This story was passed through the family, but is there any truth to it? 

Some say that when Davis was cornered by the Union soldiers, they stole all of the treasure for themselves. Some say that the soldiers turned it over to the government. There are also rumors that the treasure was thrown in Lake Michigan directly or smuggled there, while others say it ended up there by accident. Some believe that Minty was there when Davis was captured by Union soldiers, while others believe that he was simply working for the Union soldiers after the war ended. According to one theory, It is believed that nearly all Confederate assets were dispersed to pay returning soldiers before the capture of Davis on May 10, 1865, near Irwinville. Approximately one-third of the remaining funds were left in Washington, Georgia, by the Richmond banks. 

With all of this conflicting information, it’s difficult to get a solid story together. This has resulted in many treasure hunters and historians debating on whether or not the treasure was ever real in the first place. It is known that Native American Stand Watie, a divisive Cherokee leader who fought for the South in the Civil War, was the final Confederate general to surrender.

What is Confederate Gold worth?

Due to its rarity, Confederate money is worth a lot today. The condition plays a significant role in determining the final price. Gold coins and bars are among the most valuable pieces of Confederate currency. During the Confederacy, coins were issued in the denominations of one cent and fifty cents. Today, both of these items are worth thousands, and there is said to be thousands in the boxcar containing all of the Confederate treasure in Lake Michigan. A portion of the gold was stamped with the Confederate States of America Treasury stamp.

Did Anyone Ever Find the Treasure?

Two treasure hunters, Kevin Dykstra and Fredrick J. Monroe, claimed that they found the treasure though it has not been proven. The pair claims to have found a shipwreck in Lake Michigan in 2011 that directly correlates with the treasure, though they didn’t want to let anyone know about it until they’d consulted more experts. In situations like these, the state of Michigan has the final say in what to do. 

Did the FBI find Confederate gold?

A new chapter of the Dents Run gold legend began when FBI agents and state officials unearthed buried gold in Benezette Township, Pennsylvania, off Route 555. The case has been at a standstill, and there have been no updates in recent years. No one knows whether they found the treasure or not, though there have been rumors that the FBI got involved and went to retrieve it. A gold cache from the Civil War has been discovered, say, treasure hunters. The two treasure hunters (father and son) Dennis and Kem Parada, believe the government may have found gold and kept it secret to avoid having to give them a cut of the treasure. At the remote Pennsylvania dig site, the FBI says they found nothing. It is now up to them to prove it in an appeals court. Pennsylvania state officials were ordered to produce their communications with the FBI about the excavation, which occurred on state-owned land in the Dents Run region of Elk County. The case had been prompted recently by court documents that were recently released. The gold's location was reportedly discovered by FBI special agent Jacob B. Archer in Elk County at a cave on state-owned property. Furthermore, the gold might be seized by state officials for their own use, prompting him to apply for a federal warrant to do so without the permission of the state. 

How Much Treasure is in Lake Michigan?

As with everything else with this treasure, the rumors vary drastically! Some say the treasure is worth $2 million today, while others claim it is worth as much as $100 million!

The treasure of Lake Michigan and the lost Confederate gold is a huge mystery waiting to be uncovered by skilled treasure hunters. The idea that millions of dollars worth of historic gold is lingering at the bottom of a lake is something that has tempted the brave for years and years.

But does it really exist at all, or is it all folk tales that have been passed down through generations? I’ll leave that to you to decide! 

Is It True That the Confederate Cabinet Gold Was Stolen?

Bank of Tennessee and its Augusta, Georgia branches are also alleged to have had assets worth more than half a million dollars confiscated. Jefferson Davis transported Georgia's most renowned American Civil War treasure via wagon as the Civil War concluded. The Confederate state's principal businesses were gold mining, currency minting, and trade, which inspired these stories.

President Davis was given until early evening by General Lee to put the bullion, jewels, and cabinet members aboard two trains. Two trains were supposed to leave with the soldiers and treasure on the last line between Richmond and Danville, Virginia. The first train would take Confederate troops, while the second train would transport the gold of the buried treasure.

Numerous accounts claim that Robert Horatio George Minty, a Civil War Brigadier General, worked as a train attendant after the war and was in charge of transporting the loot to Michigan for the Union forces. According to legend, he took some to have a necklace fashioned for his wife and put the remainder on a boat. The ferry crew would subsequently have to push it off the boat during a storm, resulting in the boxcar with millions of dollars in treasure sinking to the bottom of the lake.

Groups associated with the Confederacy and Their Origins 

A secret Confederate society, the Knights of the Golden Circle, was founded in 1854 by American George W. L. Bickley to legalize slavery in a new country. Former Confederate soldiers are believed to have established the first Ku Klux Klan chapter in the late 1800s.

Famous Authors, Movies, and More

In the past few years, famous authors such as Gerald White, Wesley Millett, and Paul Wheelahan, as well as actors such as Dirk Pitt, and notables like Rhett Butler, have come to be known for their works about the Confederate soldiers and the missing confederate gold of the Confederacy. Several of the famous stories about Confederate Gold discussed in this article were expanded upon by Robert S. Davis in The Georgia Odyssey of the Confederate Gold. 

Famous Individuals and the Confederacy

George Alfred Trenholm was a prominent businessman, financier, politician, and slaveholding planter who owned several plantations in South Carolina and supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War era. Atlanta residents believed Rhett had stolen confederate gold and a sum of gold coin from the Confederate Treasury. In truth, George Trenholm was merely the captain of a ship.

Other Stories of Confederate Gold

Even though there are numerous stories surrounding the lost gold, one of the most popular stories surrounds a group of Spanish explorers traveling up the Arkansas River in search of the treasure. An interesting story about Confederate gold bullion that was smuggled to Mexico by a group of Confederate soldiers led by Colonel Trevor has drawn a great deal of speculation as well. An equally mythical cargo of gold bullion was rumored to have been transported by the CSS Texas ship Confederate ironclad during the Civil War. 

Their goal was to bring a large number of gold bars from Wheeling, West Virginia, to the United States Mint in Philadelphia, and they had hired a local guide to assist them in navigating their way across the hills. They were now traveling in circles from South Carolina, North Carolina, and New Orleans. The guide had absconded with two horses, and Castleton had become ill while they were on the road. To protect the gold, Castleton and Sergeant Mike O'Rourke decided to split up; a small team would go seeking assistance, while Castleton and Sergeant Mike O'Rourke would stay behind.

The gold and the guys were never seen or heard from again. That is the account given to FBI special agent Jacob B. Archer by two treasure seekers, Dennis Parada and Tex willer, according to newly unsealed court papers. Archer gathered evidence of the gold's location in a cave on state-owned land in Elk County, as well as evidence that state officials may be attempting to seize the gold for themselves, prompting his application for a federal warrant authorizing him to seize the alleged gold without the state's permission.

Rumors eventually circulated among Confederate soldier' groups that their retreating commanders were carrying millions of dollars during their evacuation of Richmond. And such rumors were not limited to the southern states. Union army leaders also put the Confederate riches in the millions of dollars, aiming to galvanize Federal forces pursuing Mr. Davis and his administration. It was rumored that this civil war gold near lincoln county that the union soldiers were carrying were natural resources unearthed by Native Americans.

Most likely, the exact value of the wealth guarded by Confederate Army Captain William H. Parker and his midshipmen will never be known. The government funds entrusted to Parker's custody amounted to only "approximately $500,000 in gold, silver, and bullion." However, reports of millions continue.

Copyright 2021 Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised August 2022