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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Confederacy prints money
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Roger Allen

    Note: The following is the fourth in a series of columns on the origin of currency in the American colonies and Georgia.
    Four Southern states convened the provisional government of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 8, 1861.
    The first secretary of the Confederate Treasury, Christopher Gustavus Memminger, was authorized to print up to $1 million in treasury notes for the payment of the expenses of the Confederacy.
    They were issued in numerous denominations. Although they were marked "The Southern Banknote Company of New Orleans," these banknotes were actually printed in New York.
    The U.S. mints in the South (New Orleans, Charlotte and Dahlonega) were seized by the Confederacy in 1861. Due to a lack of gold and silver bullion, the Confederate Congress closed all three mints several months later.
    The Confederacy desperately needed fractional currency in order to encourage normal commerce. Many Southern states already had issued their own paper scrip to be used as small change.
    The Confederate Post Office had printed its own "postal currency." The first stamp had an engraving of President Jefferson Davis; the second, the image of Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee.
    At first allowing English, French, Spanish and even Union coins to be legal tender, the Confederacy began printing large amounts of Confederate paper money.
    In October 1862, 57 kegs of gold coins and 201 boxes and three kegs of silver coins worth more than $2.5 million were seized from the Bank of Louisiana.
    This money was first brought to the Bank of Columbus, Ga., and then scheduled to be transferred to John Boston's Confederate Depository in Savannah. However, it was eventually taken to Augusta instead.
    By 1865, however, nearly $1 billion dollars in Confederate notes had been printed. The Confederate Treasury was nearly bankrupt, and their money was now virtually worthless.
    Just before Richmond, Va., fell to Union forces, the Confederate Cabinet fled to Abbeville, S.C. Here, they formally dissolved the Confederacy on May 2, 1865. They brought with them some $500,000 in gold sovereigns recently loaned to the Confederacy by France, as well as $200,000 in gold from the banks of Richmond.
    After an unknown group of raiders attacked the money caravan at Chennault's Plantation near Washington, Ga., the gold reportedly was hidden in several locations between Macon and Savannah.
    President Jefferson Davis and his party were captured by Union troops at Irwinville, Ga., on May 10, 1865. The Confederate treasure, however, was not to be found.
    Curiously enough, Union Brigadier General E.L. Molineux and his 159th New York Volunteers recorded seizing some $275,000 in gold from Macon and $188,000 in gold from Savannah.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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