Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Legend of the Confederate Gold

Please welcome guest blogger, Jennifer Purcell. She is the author of A Different Kind of War and Social Media Manager for Spark Flash Fiction.

As a born and bred Georgia girl, I love learning tidbits of Georgia history. But there are some things they just don’t teach you in history class.

One of those is the legend of the Confederate gold.

According to history, when Confederate President Jefferson Davis received news that General Lee surrendered, he packed up the Confederate treasury and left Virginia. Rumors began circulating that he had over a million dollars with him, mostly in gold coins and bullion. But when Davis was captured near Irwinville, GA, and the Union soldiers confiscated his load, he had nowhere close to the rumored amount with him.

Some Union soldiers took the confiscated money and headed to a railhead in South Carolina. When they stopped for the night in Lincoln County, GA, bandits stole the money. Some of it was later recovered, but much of it is still missing.

This led to questions about what happened to the gold. Some scholars say that all the money stolen from the Union soldiers was recovered and that much of what Davis left Virginia with was used to pay Confederate soldiers. They also say that the rumors exaggerated how much Davis was actually carrying. But one scholar has said that James A. Semple was entrusted with some of the gold before Davis’s capture and was tasked with making it to Mexico. He never made it there, though, because he spent much of the money on his affair with Julia Gardiner Tyler.

But the ensuing search for the gold created a lot of trouble for the Union Army. A general named Edward A. Wild led a search in the area where the bandits struck. He accused the Chennault family of hiding gold and tortured them for answers. This caused a huge scandal, and General Ulysses S. Grant ended up removing Wild from his command.

Today, people still search for the missing gold, and the questions surrounding it are the perfect breeding ground for a writer’s imagination. I had just learned of it and was beginning to brainstorm ways to incorporate it into my debut novel when I read Turn to Me by Becky Wade. She used it as an important plot point, so I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. But the part it played in the story just goes to show how many of us are intrigued by the idea of hidden treasure. 

What do you think happened to the missing gold?

Jennifer Purcell is a Georgia native who loves to write about
faith, family, and romance. She is an ACFW First Impressions contest winner and a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest. Her debut historical romance, A Different Kind of War, released September 2023. Visit her online at

If you love small towns and heartwarming romances that don’t shy away from real-life struggles, then you’ll love Jennifer's debut novel: A Different Kind of War.

The war isn’t over for everyone. Will these two weary hearts ever find peace? After Marjorie Willoughby lost her father and brother in battle and her mother to a fever, she cobbled together a new family. But a lingering debt endangers their future. Gregory Cartwright’s Union allegiance and pacifist beliefs forced him to leave his home, and now he’s looking for a fresh start among his fellow Unionists in Bradford, Georgia. But first he needs a piece of land. Is there a possible solution that benefits them both, or are these battles they cannot win?


  1. It's either buried somewhere, or hidden deep in a cave somewhere. Someday someone will stumble upon it probably centuries from now.

    1. I've never thought of it being buried in a cave! That's a good theory.

  2. Thank you for posting today, and welcome to the blog! It is interesting to think about where the money might have gone. It would be nice to think that the Confederate soldiers were paid with it, but of all scenarios that's the one I feel is least likely.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, unfortunately I'm not confident much went to them, either.