John Mosby's Buried Treasure

Joined
Jun 1, 2010
Messages
688
Location
Culpeper, VA
#1
A local legend told to me on multiple occasions while growing up was of lost buried treasure of COL John Singleton Mosby. There's a little or a lot to this. A great deal is based on local folklore and oral tradition. All depends on who you talk to and where they are from, and I'm sure I don't know the half of it. I will attempt to tackle this with the basic story, versions I've heard and my rambling crazy thoughts along the way. You have been warned!

Premise:

Lost Treasure Magazine ran a story in September 2011 of what I consider the most standardized version that I've heard:

http://www.losttreasure.com/content/archives/state-treasures-virginia-0

In the excerpt the author notes that the treasure was recovered during the famous Fairfax Courthouse Raid of March 9, 1863. The contents in question were in BG Edwin Stanton's room (or thereabouts). The gold was deposited somewhere between Fairfax Courthouse and Culpeper that night. The article goes on to say that Mosby was not able to retrieve the gold because of life events and he moved on after the war leaving the treasure to never be found. Only on his deathbed did Mosby mention that there was a lot of valuable stuff waiting in the Virginia countryside somewhere and he wished he had gotten it.

v486yf.jpg

Shouldn't have thrown that sticky note away...

The Score:

The article above presents the treasure as, shiny and typically piratey: jewelry, ornate candlesticks, gold and silver (coinage and flatware) and priceless family heirlooms. I've heard other mentions of medicines. All valued at $350,000 of the day and conveniently placed in a burlap sack [most likely with a dollar sign on the side].

s4wfa8.png

They'll never notice...

The location:

When returning to Culpeper from the raid, Union patrols were getting close and Mosby took one of his most trusted sergeants into the woods, while the rest of the group would keep moving, and buried the treasure in between two pine trees in the middle of a particular pine grove. Mosby marked the spot with his knife. Only he and the sergeant would know of the location. The intent would be to retrieve the loot and return it all to the locals like the good Robin Hood types that they were.

rbjqtf.jpg

The last known picture of Mosby prior to the Fairfax Courthouse Raid...
Taken from the Disney Robin Hood Wiki page. Property of Disney.

Oh yes, the actual location?

2d2ekh1.png

Well that narrowed it down...

Fairfax, Haymarket, New Baltimore, Warrenton or Culpeper? Near Bull Run or was it Cub Run? Or some other nameless creek nearby? And, where at within them? But there's also a possibility of multiple stashes to have been buried as well, from different raids and escapades. And those could range as far as anywhere Mosby ever set foot in Virginia...

jl2ko2.png

I've just managed to make this worse...

Well, growing up in Fauquier, the story I was told most often (and will therefore believe) was that the treasure was buried at the intersection of Routes 29 and 211 in Warrenton. Problem with that is that there are two different parts that this could be, on opposite ends of the town, at least from my thought on how the town road system worked.

15pjoxs.png

If only they made treasure maps easier to read...

The most likely Warrenton spot would be the red 'x' while my preconceived thought was at the blue 'x'. The road numbering system in Warrenton gets weird with Routes 17, 29 and 211 intersecting and not really clearly ending/starting.

Based on Mosby's memoirs, in this particular case, the treasure would probably have to be between Haymarket and Warrenton, excluding Fairfax and Culpeper as the extremes. There seemed to be a no man's land in effect between Chantilly (Union pickets) and the vicinity of Warrenton. There were the Federal patrols that were still following, but from Mosby's memoirs, once past Haymarket there wasn't much of a bother. So it would seem, in theory, that Haymarket would be the most likely location?

The Sergeant:

In most of the stories I've heard the sergeant is unknown. In others it is believed to be a deserter from the 5th New York Cavalry named Ames. His trustworthiness at this point would be difficult, IMO, because he was just picked up before the Fairfax Courthouse raid. He had proven his trustworthiness to a degree. But, I still don't really think he'd be my first choice for an event that would invoke a pinky swear like this.

The truth!:

Ames is mentioned in Mosby's memoirs, but only just during the Fairfax Courthouse raid time frame. And during that raid there was an incident regarding stolen civilian goods (silver and medicine in a doctor's saddlebag). From Mosby's memoirs page 169-170:

We met an old country doctor, Doctor Drake, in a desolate condition, walking home through mud and snow. He told us he had been going the rounds, visiting his patients, when he had met a body of cavalry that was not far ahead of us. They had robbed him of his horse, saddlebags, and medicine. As the blockade had made medicine scarce, this was a severe loss to the community. We spurred on to overtake the raiders and intercepted a party that had stopped at a house. They exceeded us in numbers, but they were more intent on saving themselves and their plunder than on fighting.

They scampered away, with us close behind them. Soon they got to Horsepen Run, which was booming from the melting snows, and the foremost man plunged into the stream. He got a good ducking and was glad to get back a prisoner. His companions did not try to swim after him but preferred to surrender. They were loaded with silver spoons and valuables they had taken, but the chief prize was old Doctor Drake's saddlebags, which they had not opened. The silver was returned to the owners, and the prisoners were sent to Richmond.

A twist in the plot:

The chance never came up to grab the loot for quite a while or ever, depending upon the version. But, there is a version where Mosby did, finally, send the sergeant with a party of men to retrieve the loot, but they were captured and hanged. This fits with the execution of some of Mosby's men in Front Royal, VA on or about September 22, 1864. At this point Mosby was the only one who knew the location of the treasure.

Conclusion:

There may have been some merit to this at some point, but the story is very rich and easy to embellish. I think it's a nice bit of local folklore. There's probably some bits and bobs buried out there somewhere, but not to Treasure Island extent that I think some would like it to be. But I'm naturally skeptical.

Though, in the meantime I'll be sitting at my intersection of 29 and 211 in Warrenton at Carousel Frozen treats (since they open up today I think, weather cooperating, which it won't). I'll be the guy with the shovel and a hot dog.

23le920.jpg

Taken from Carousel Frozen Treats facebook page

Also, Mosby did live in Warrenton from the end of the war up until sometime in the 1870s, which would seem like enough time to go looking for his lost cache. Though, maybe by that time he had forgotten where it was. I know I can't seem to remember much of anything anymore, either.
 
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rhettbutler1865

Colonel, CSA Cavalry
Silver Patron
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
2,786
#2
A local legend told to me on multiple occasions while growing up was of lost buried treasure of COL John Singleton Mosby. There's a little or a lot to this. A great deal is based on local folklore and oral tradition. All depends on who you talk to and where they are from, and I'm sure I don't know the half of it. I will attempt to tackle this with the basic story, versions I've heard and my rambling crazy thoughts along the way. You have been warned!

Premise:

Lost Treasure Magazine ran a story in September 2011 of what I consider the most standardized version that I've heard:

http://www.losttreasure.com/content/archives/state-treasures-virginia-0

In the excerpt the author notes that the treasure was recovered during the famous Fairfax Courthouse Raid of March 9, 1863. The contents in question were in BG Edwin Stanton's room (or thereabouts). The gold was deposited somewhere between Fairfax Courthouse and Culpeper that night. The article goes on to say that Mosby was not able to retrieve the gold because of life events and he moved on after the war leaving the treasure to never be found. Only on his deathbed did Mosby mention that there was a lot of valuable stuff waiting in the Virginia countryside somewhere and he wished he had gotten it.

v486yf.jpg

Shouldn't have thrown that sticky note away...

The Score:

The article above presents the treasure as, shiny and typically piratey: jewelry, ornate candlesticks, gold and silver (coinage and flatware) and priceless family heirlooms. I've heard other mentions of medicines. All valued at $350,000 of the day and conveniently placed in a burlap sack [most likely with a dollar sign on the side].

s4wfa8.png

They'll never notice...

The location:

When returning to Culpeper from the raid, Union patrols were getting close and Mosby took one of his most trusted sergeants into the woods, while the rest of the group would keep moving, and buried the treasure in between two pine trees in the middle of a particular pine grove. Mosby marked the spot with his knife. Only he and the sergeant would know of the location. The intent would be to retrieve the loot and return it all to the locals like the good Robin Hood types that they were.

rbjqtf.jpg

The last known picture of Mosby prior to the Fairfax Courthouse Raid...

Oh yes, the actual location?

2d2ekh1.png

Well that narrowed it down...

Fairfax, Haymarket, New Baltimore, Warrenton or Culpeper? Near Bull Run or was it Cub Run? Or some other nameless creek nearby? And, where at within them? But there's also a possibility of multiple stashes to have been buried as well, from different raids and escapades. And those could range as far as anywhere Mosby ever set foot in Virginia...

jl2ko2.png

I've just managed to make this worse...

Well, growing up in Fauquier, the story I was told most often (and will therefore believe) was that the treasure was buried at the intersection of Routes 29 and 211 in Warrenton. Problem with that is that there are two different parts that this could be, on opposite ends of the town, at least from my thought on how the town road system worked.

15pjoxs.png

If only they made treasure maps easier to read...

The most likely Warrenton spot would be the red 'x' while my preconceived thought was at the blue 'x'. The road numbering system in Warrenton gets weird with Routes 17, 29 and 211 intersecting and not really clearly ending/starting.

Based on Mosby's memoirs, in this particular case, the treasure would probably have to be between Haymarket and Warrenton, excluding Fairfax and Culpeper as the extremes. There seemed to be a no man's land in effect between Chantilly (Union pickets) and the vicinity of Warrenton. There were the Federal patrols that were still following, but from Mosby's memoirs, once past Haymarket there wasn't much of a bother. So it would seem, in theory, that Haymarket would be the most likely location?

The Sergeant:

In most of the stories I've heard the sergeant is unknown. In others it is believed to be a deserter from the 5th New York Cavalry named Ames. His trustworthiness at this point would be difficult, IMO, because he was just picked up before the Fairfax Courthouse raid. He had proven his trustworthiness to a degree. But, I still don't really think he'd be my first choice for an event that would invoke a pinky swear like this.

The truth!:

Ames is mentioned in Mosby's memoirs, but only just during the Fairfax Courthouse raid time frame. And during that raid there was an incident regarding stolen civilian goods (silver and medicine in a doctor's saddlebag). From Mosby's memoirs page 169-170:

We met an old country doctor, Doctor Drake, in a desolate condition, walking home through mud and snow. He told us he had been going the rounds, visiting his patients, when he had met a body of cavalry that was not far ahead of us. They had robbed him of his horse, saddlebags, and medicine. As the blockade had made medicine scarce, this was a severe loss to the community. We spurred on to overtake the raiders and intercepted a party that had stopped at a house. They exceeded us in numbers, but they were more intent on saving themselves and their plunder than on fighting.

They scampered away, with us close behind them. Soon they got to Horsepen Run, which was booming from the melting snows, and the foremost man plunged into the stream. He got a good ducking and was glad to get back a prisoner. His companions did not try to swim after him but preferred to surrender. They were loaded with silver spoons and valuables they had taken, but the chief prize was old Doctor Drake's saddlebags, which they had not opened. The silver was returned to the owners, and the prisoners were sent to Richmond.

A twist in the plot:

The chance never came up to grab the loot for quite a while or ever, depending upon the version. But, there is a version where Mosby did, finally, send the sergeant with a party of men to retrieve the loot, but they were captured and hanged. This fits with the execution of some of Mosby's men in Front Royal, VA on or about September 22, 1864. At this point Mosby was the only one who knew the location of the treasure.

Conclusion:

There may have been some merit to this at some point, but the story is very rich and easy to embellish. I think it's a nice bit of local folklore. There's probably some bits and bobs buried out there somewhere, but not to Treasure Island extent that I think some would like it to be. But I'm naturally skeptical.

Though, in the meantime I'll be sitting at my intersection of 29 and 211 in Warrenton at Carousel Frozen treats (since they open up today I think, weather cooperating, which it won't). I'll be the guy with the shovel and a hot dog.

ftdlqd.jpg


Also, Mosby did live in Warrenton from the end of the war up until sometime in the 1870s, which would seem like enough time to go looking for his lost cache. Though, maybe by that time he had forgotten where it was. I know I can't seem to remember much of anything anymore, either.
Very interesting and entertaining thread! Who knows what's in the ground yet that hasn't been discovered...like that Confederate skull, tripped on by a tourist at Gettysburg not that long ago. I'll help you dig...
 



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