The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

16
A Confederate Goes Home

John Will Dyer

Just now, General Lee surrendered at Appomattox and our cause was lost, but President Davis hoped to transfer headquarters west of the Mississippi River and there make another effort to save the day. Our brigade was complimented by being selected as the President's escort and met him and his cabinet at Greensboro, North Carolina. We made all the haste possible, but owing to circumstances, did not get along very fast. General McCook was trying to head us off on the north and General Stoneman on the south and we had to run the gauntlet. We skirmished right and left and kept the "dogs off," as it were, until we reached Savannah River, which we crossed about five miles from Washington, Georgia. Here the news reached us of Johnston's surrender, and that we were included.

We also found that General Wilson with his cavalry corps was in front of us and that we were completely surrounded by an overwhelming force.

Recognizing the futility of a further attempt to escape with any considerable number of men, President Davis decided to divide the contents of the Treasury with the men who were with him and make an attempt to get out of the country. He failed, as all know.

On the morning of May 7th, 1865, I was ordered to report to Secretary Trenholm, who was stopping at the house of the ferryman. On presenting myself and my credentials, I was handed a little cotton bag -- sealed -- which I was ordered to turn over to the captain of our company.

On breaking the seal, the captain found a pay-roll, allotting officers and men the same amount, without distinction of rank, and we were all handed $26.40 in gold and silver.

There has been much written about the buried "Confederate treasure," but this is all "moonshine." We got all the money there was in the Treasury and the only wonder is that we got to keep it. The Yankees didn't know we had it or they would have prowled us sure.

And then, I have read an article purporting to give an account of a night raid on the Confederate Treasury wagons near Abbeville, South Carolina,

JOHN WILL DYER, Reminiscences; or Four Years in the Confederate Army ( Evansville, Ind., 1898), Chs. xix, xx.

-241-

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